Nowadays it is hard to find a "company man," an employee that comes on right out of college and stays on until retirement. You're much more likely to have someone stay for a couple years and then move on to another opportunity.
But there are some simple things you can do to prevent employees from leaving or looking elsewhere, and it is worth the effort. Replacing an employee is costly -- both in terms of time and money.
Here are some things you can do to fix your agency's revolving door problem:
The first and easiest way to prevent high employee turnover is to simply hire the right people. There are many warning signs that an employee is always interested in accepting the next great job that comes his way, including his work history and the type of questions he asks in the interview. So while he may be a good fit and have the skills you need, the person will only end up hurting your company and your client relationships is he jumps ship in six months. Understanding how potential employees work best, how they get along with coworkers, and what kind of management style is most productive for them are all elements to consider when trying to hire people that will stay with your company.
Consider the Work Environment
One of the most important factors, especially for millennials seeking personal satisfaction from their careers, is a positive and energetic work environment. Beyond the standard praise and recognition that can boost morale and keep spirits high, creating a fun workplace is key. And this doesn't just mean a beer cart or ping-pong table; it means constructing your office and aligning your teams in an open way that promotes interaction and engagement. Nobody wants to be stuck away in a cubicle or a dark office. Consider how the layout, atmosphere, and amenities can promote your culture. If you're hiring the right people (see above) that you trust to work hard, you don't need to worry about them taking a break here and there to play some office mini hockey.
Create Room for Growth
No matter if an employee is brand new or has been working with you for years, everyone appreciates a clear career path with the company. That means setting clear expectations for success, opportunities for a promotion and a raise, expanding responsibilities, etc. Nobody wants to work without knowing what they are working towards, so helping everyone in your company connect the dots between their daily tasks and the end goals of your company and clients keeps your team on the same page. When management can demonstrate how each individual contributes to both the overall agency efforts and their personal future growth, people are less likely to seek that clarity from another job.
Offering your employees an alternative work structure can yield better results and a better quality of life for your team. That means allowing people to telecommute, providing them with unlimited vacations days, and approving work hours outside of the standard 9-5. Once again, this comes back to hiring the right people: if you don't trust your employees to get their work done from home, why did you hire them in the first place? Working from home can often provide fewer distractions for employees than the noise of the office, and the time wasted on long commutes could be better spent completing important tasks.
Show Your Commitment
Investing in your employees and their personal and professional future helps everyone feel valued. Maybe this means a company workshop on time management or a trip to a local go kart raceway on a Friday afternoon. Whatever it is, team building can help people unwind and grow closer to their coworkers, which improves the work environment and results in better unity and better work.
Nobody likes working while being worried about where they stand with their company. Provide open lines of communication between management and all your employees so that everyone is clear on where they stand, where they can improve, and where they are succeeding. Giving and receiving feedback is productive for bosses and employees alike, and this can give people the security they are looking for or a kick to the backside if they need to improve their efforts. If you are regularly giving your employees feedback on the things they are doing well and the things they can work on, when it comes to review time, there shouldn't be any surprises in store. Everyone knows where things stand and what progress has been made on the career path you've laid out for your employee.
Pay Employees Their Value
There's no way around it: how your employees are compensated is always a major factor in how long they will work for your agency. Work with your human resources team to make sure that the agency is up to date on best practices for benefits and compensation. This will show your employees that you value them and will make sure they are being paid fairly for their efforts. Think outside of the box, and find creative ways to compensate your employees that aren't just zeroes on a check. If you live and work somewhere desirable like Colorado, buy your employees a ski pass to their favorite mountain every year or bring in lunches on a regular basis. If someone wants to take a bigger paycheck somewhere else, he'll probably take it. But people change jobs for many reasons, and compensation isn't always the main motivator. Invest in your employees and build loyalty beyond the paycheck.
Being able to hire and grow a core team that helps your agency get to the next level is one of the most important things you can do. If you want to avoid the constant employee turnover that plagues so many agencies and prevents you from producing consistently great work, create a vibrant culture, pay your employees well, and invest in their growth. An employee leaving can't always be prevented, but you can make it much more difficult for your staff to make the leap.
Originally published Apr 13, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017