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5 Tips for Retaining Agency Employees

For previous generations, navigating the workforce was pretty straightforward.

Written by Ivette Monroy
on 09.26.16

Get hired, go to work every day, stay at the same company for 35 years, chat endlessly with your cubicle-mate Phyllis, and collect your gold watch when you retire.  But in 2015, the path is much more winding, especially in the world of marketing.

Although your parents were expected to stay at the same company for much of their adulthood, millennials are predicted to have anywhere from 15-20 jobs during the course of their professional lives.

So how do you make your agency enticing to a growingly restless workforce? Nowadays, employees seek out competitive benefits packages that include ample paid time off, 401k options, and sizable salaries, but they’re also looking for an agency that offers a fulfilling company culture. This change in expectations has been piqued by the demand for work-life balance, as well as there being an abundance of agencies popping up all the time that need to be creative in order to stand out while attracting top talent.

Although, just because you’re trying to keep your team happy, it doesn’t mean you need to install a hot tub in the break room or institute four day work weeks. Instead, try implementing these five tips that we adhere to at PACIFIC and watch your turnover rate drastically decrease:

1. Be Open to Discussion

No matter how your organization is structured, it’s imperative that every employee feels like their voice matters. If you have a flat organizational structure like we do at PACIFIC, it’s easy for staff members to feel comfortable sharing their ideas with the executive team, because there’s no middle man for them to go through. However, even if you work at a large company, there are ways for all levels of staff to share their ideas. Try setting up Q&A’s with departments, town hall meetings with the entire staff, or even setting up your own version of “office hours” where team members can individually schedule time to sit down and chat about any questions, concerns, or suggestions they have about your organization. Although this may involve spending some extra time around the office, your staff will feel that they have more insight and stake in the company, which is good for everyone. And you will reap some constructive ideas in the meantime.

2. Encourage Team Bonding

In 2012, Gallup proved that employees who had a “work best friend” were happier with their jobs, more productive daily, and more likely to feel loyal toward their company. Therefore, it behooves you to encourage team bonding. You don’t have to go as far as to spend your staff to the spa regularly, but it boosts morale to host team building exercises on the regular. Some things we like to do at our office includes bonding over monthly potluck breakfasts, participating in beach clean ups, and holding happy hours after work. This certainly may require reviewing your budget to set up a more robust social fund, but by investing in the people who work at your agency, you’re investing in the agency itself. People who are passionate about their coworkers are more likely to be passionate about the brand they represent.

3. Foster Education

You want to hire a team that’s personable and passionate, but they also need to be educated. I’m not talking about hiring 150 people who have PhDs. Formal education aside, it’s critical to ensure your team is knowledgeable about your industry. While it’s great if your company is able to offer tuition reimbursement, if that’s not a feasible option you can opt for hosting informational seminars or networking events. Not only has our team enjoyed presentations from outside companies like MECLABS, but we regularly offer informative sessions led by staff members. We watch and discuss TED Talks on a quarterly basis as well as promote inter-department presentations so that our team is educated on all aspects of the business. These presentations range from “Google Analytics how-to’s” to “How to locate valuable content partners.” Not only is it beneficial to have an educated staff, but if your team feels like they are receiving value from your organization they’re more likely to remain engaged while working.

4. Recognize a Job Well Done

Want to make your team stick around? Let them know what a great job they’re doing. This tip seems like it should be obvious, right? Unfortunately, many workers create exceptional work day in and day out that never gets recognized by their superiors. In the same Gallup poll, it was determined that employees who are given recognition for their achievements will continue delivering high quality work. Conversely, the study cited that “Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they will leave their company in the next year.” A distinct lack of praise can result in a 10-20% decrease in productivity, which translates to a major loss of revenue. At PACIFIC we try to always share kudos with one another in person as well as recognize excellence in our internal newsletter.

5. Provide Room for Growth

Praise is great, but if your staff doesn’t feel like they’re making long term progress in their career, something needs to change. You need to open up new opportunities for them at your agency. Scheduling regular check-ins with your employees (yes, also referred to as “reviews”) is imperative to monitoring their growth. My manager and I have established check-ins every six months. During our meetings, we go over what I’ve accomplished in the past six months and what needs to happen in the upcoming six months. These meetings establish accountability and strengthen trust. This also opens the door to discuss next steps (e.g. if I accomplish these 10 tasks in the next six months, will I be eligible for a title or salary change?) and allows your team to feel more in control of their role at the company.

Above all else, follow the golden rule and treat your staff as you would like to be treated. While bells and whistles (and hot tubs) are nice and may entice people to work at your company, at the end of the day employees want to work somewhere where they feel like they’re valued and truly making a difference. Remember to be open to conversation, allow room for growth, and present learning opportunities for your staff–no matter their position within the company. Although these steps will require some extra time and effort put in by management, the end result will be an office full of productive, happy, healthy people who are enthusiastic about your brand.