22 June 2023

We've spoken many times before about the ever evolving nature of agencies in the healthcare communications sector. Whilst more often than not these changes positively impact the professionals who work and thrive within the industry, we know that some changes can result in upheaval and discontentment.

Mergers and acquisitions may sound like the business department you avoid, but its impacts on retaining and recruiting talent should not be sniffed at.

Tumultuous Times

A point of conversation that we often come across is how the acquisition of a smaller agency into a larger network of agencies can impact the company culture. Top talent have been and always will be empowered to seek out the culture that they feel will best support their progression and wellbeing, and as such, the best candidates will always take into account the business culture when considering their next move.

Agency acquisitions can mean that the culture cultivated by a previously independent agency suffers and upheaval, with an influx of new processes, team members and targets disrupting the non-hierarchical, familiar dynamics often associated with smaller agencies. In the same way that a spate of redundancies can impact the remaining team, the sudden addition of new staff members and inflation of pre-existing teams can disrupt the balance for talent who worked best in the previous environment.

A Knock-On Effect

Of course, anything impacting existing staff is sure to affect potential newcomers and hiring efforts. If staff feel uprooted enough to begin looking at alternative options, a potential spate of high staff turnover can be enough to put off tap talent who are actively seeking a new role. It's no surprise that one of the biggest "red flags" for talent is a high rate of staff turnover, and professionals keyed into current affairs within the sector will easily attribute this to the impacts of internal changes.

As well as this, it's natural for word to spread amongst the talent pool- as healthcare communications requires such a specific skillset, actively searching candidates are often familiar with one another and will turn to each other for advice and opinions on what agencies have to offer.

Is it always bad news?

Up until this point, we've certainly focused on the doom-and-gloom aspects of agency mergers and acquisitions. However, it's imperative that we note that these changes are not inherently negative. Change has the potential to invigorate stagnant teams, inject funding into new projects and ideas, and provide respite for overloaded team members.

By becoming part of a conglomerate of agencies, it is possible that independent agencies can have greater channels of collaboration by being given the opportunity to work with different, cross-network teams. Combined with an expanded client remit and fresh investment into pre-existing and new projects, there remain many professionals who reap the rewards of working as part of an umbrella corporation.


On reflection, perhaps the clearest way to view the potential impacts of mergers and acquisitions is on a case-by-case basis. We know from working so closely with talent in the healthcare communications sector, that no two candidates are the same, and whilst some crave the "big cog in a small machine" feeling often attributed to an independent agency, many embrace and enjoy the opportunities afforded to them by being part of a larger network.

Is there a happy medium? If so, it's more likely to be made up of a spectrum of candidates, each with their own preferences. Truthly, the best course of action is to be exact when articulating to progression partners and hiring managers about what you're looking for. The more we understand about what makes you tick, the better we'll be able to help you to explore options that match your personal preferences.

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