Who stole my staff?

The internet and new media companies still tempt away your people. After the bankruptcies and failures of Web 1.0, many young people returned to the more traditional businesses they had left. WPP lost a number of such bright talents and later welcomed some back to the fold. I conducted re-entry interviews, and hoped to see and hear that the returnees were relieved to have their jobs back. Far from it: few grovelled. Instead they admitted that given the opportunity again, they would take it or seize a similar one. And recently, in the last year or two, with the emergence of the second internet boom, it is clear there is another wave of bright, young people attracted to new technologies and opportunities within those companies.

Clearly, the era of apprenticeship inside large corporations is finished. It was weakened by the corporate downsizing of the 1980s and 1990s, the final nail in the coffin coming with the internet boom of the late 1990s. Young, bright talent will always seek out new, flexible, un-bureaucratic, responsive companies. Staying with one company for 40 years or so – as my father did and both my parents advised me to do – no longer seems the best career choice. However, some recent polling and attitudinal analysis in the UK shows younger people want a better work-life balance. Hedge funds, for instance, have until recently proved more attractive than investment banks, offering fixed work times and not demanding all-night toil.