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Is good HR being lost in the new media age?


Did I miss something? Everywhere you look in the new media industry people are demanding increasingly over inflated salaries, and the emphasis on career development seems to be taking a back seat to the short-term development of bank accounts.

There was a time, not so long ago, when, if you asked a media executive what they looked for in a potential or current employer, you would get answers such as 'good working culture', or, more importantly 'a company that is prepared to invest in me and my personal development'. Companies which recognised the benefit both to their staff and business in investing in training and developing the very people who keep the money rolling in were able to recruit and retain some of the best people in their industry.

The green-backed monster has now taken over, but how many of those chasing the big dotcom IPO payoff are actually considering the facts, or their long term career prospects? The reality of the situation is no different to any other walk of life - the bigger the reward, the bigger the risk.

There will be some very successful winners in the race to capture the growing revenues from the online community; however, there will also be some big losers. What companies and staff in this arena need to ask themselves is "how can I ensure I'm a winner?"

The answer is very straight forward, and focuses back on basic business principles. As with any service industry, any companies' biggest asset is its staff, and any individuals' asset is their knowledge and experience. Therefore the simple answer for media owners, agencies and the like, wishing to succeed in the new media marketplace, is invest in your staff.

On the face of things, this would seem a very straight forward issue to address, however too many companies in this marketplace are trying to take on everything themselves, and basic personnel issues are put to the bottom of the 'to do' list. If companies involved with new media are going to develop and operate in an industry that is coming more the domain of the professional, rather than the enthusiast as it once was, they need to run their businesses appropriately.

In all other areas of media, companies are used to working with independent experts, allowing them to concentrate on core business issues. Areas such as production, printing, distribution, and, naturally, training will often be outsourced - the same sort of working relationships now need to be forged within the new media arena.

Many traditional businesses are actively working towards gaining an Investors In People [IIP] award. I wonder how many new media companies would even get close to meeting the minimum requirements. Equity is a great incentive, but the real investment will come from developing the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this increasingly competitive environment.

I look forward to the day when I again hear staff in new media saying 'I work for this company because I can see some clear career advancement and they are prepared to invest time and money developing me', not 'because they give me share options'. Just think, 'if' those 100 shares end up being worth an extra £10,000 to you, what happens next? - you certainly cannot retire on it.

Ben Hedges
Email: [email protected]


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