Preventing Employee Turnover in the PR Industry

It sometimes seems like as soon as you hire someone, they’re putting in their notice. Even at the best companies, employee turnover can be an issue. Our own Jolie Downs, Partner at Paradigm Staffing, shares her insight into why employees leave the PR gigs and how you can reduce your attrition rate. Why Employees Leave […]

It sometimes seems like as soon as you hire someone, they’re putting in their notice. Even at the best companies, employee turnover can be an issue. Our own Jolie Downs, Partner at Paradigm Staffing, shares her insight into why employees leave the PR gigs and how you can reduce your attrition rate.

Why Employees Leave

Downs says when more than one person leaves the company, it can create undue stress on the rest of the team, which can cause more turnover.

“If you have more than one person within a team leaving, this influx of work needing to be dealt with by other team members can become very difficult to handle. Too much work, long hours and [being] short on help can create negative environments that lead to an even higher employee turnover.”

She says poor management can also lead to employees jumping ship: “the majority of talent are looking for leaders who inspire them to do and be greater, as opposed to micro-managing their daily responsibilities. Micro-management tends to make strong talent want to run in the other direction.”

If there’s no clear-cut path, goals or vision, employees may feel adrift, and that they’d be better off elsewhere. Downs says people need to feel they are working towards something. If that goal or vision becomes too far from reach or if promises aren’t kept, then people begin looking for something new.

And sometimes it’s simply a case of thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Agency PR people may want to focus on one company, so they start looking for an in-house role, says Downs. Corporate people who more variety or something different may look for agency positions.

For corporate PR, she says the number one reason top-level executives start looking for a new opportunity is that the executive team often doesn’t respect or support the PR/marketing function. Who wants to waste their brilliance constantly swimming upstream?

The Cost of High Turnover

Besides the strain of adding an expense of anywhere from 50 to 400% of your salary cost when you have to rehire and retrain new staff to replace the (not so) old ones, the stress that turnover causes, especially for PR agencies, extends beyond just the team. Clients, too, can get agitated when their favorite account manager leaves, and may even take their business elsewhere.

It takes time to find new talent to fill that role, then train the employee to ramp up to where the last person was in the role. This can affect project time and deadlines.

How to Reduce Turnover

Downs says it’s important to check in to make sure your employees are happy.

“Find out what is most important to your personal team and implement the appropriate culture. Depending on dynamics, little needs can be met through a variety of options, from flex time to work from home options, summer hours, happy hour outings, team getaways, peer groups or even a book club.”

She says soft perks go a long way in exciting people about an opportunity and keep people happy within the organization. In looking at the companies she works with, Downs sees family-friendly and flexible work environments as the most successful for retention.

But at the end of the day, says Downs, “people want to be heard, understood, appreciated, rewarded and to feel as if they are an important part of a whole.”

What types of programs does your company have to help curb turnover?

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