In recent years, creative departments turned their attention to budgetary concerns as their companies went into cost-savings mode. As a result, programs designed to boost staff morale frequently fell through the cracks. Now that the job market is improving, managers are realizing they may lose employees who decide the grass is greener at other firms.
The good news is that it doesn't take a lot of money to create the type of work environment that will convince your creative staff to stay. Following are some suggestions for improving employee retention in your group:
Keep it exciting. In a recent survey commissioned by our company, 34% of advertising and marketing executives polled said they're most thankful for interesting work. People want to work on engaging and meaningful projects, particularly within the creative field. In fact, many industry professionals will sacrifice job security for compelling work.
Encourage employees to develop different approaches to routine tasks or take on new projects. Sometimes you need to mix it up. Often there is a creative way to accomplish objectives more efficiently. For example, rather than submitting designs to individual employees for approval, have everyone review and discuss the work at a group meeting. Also suggest that staff members attend industry conferences and events and share what they've learned with the team. They'll increase their creativity as well as everyone else's.
Get to know people. Take the time to find out what motivates each employee in your group. What type of projects do they enjoy most? What are their professional goals? Some people may be driven by the opportunity to work on high-profile marketing campaigns while others may prefer ongoing assignments. The better you understand individual needs, the easier it will be to customize workloads for each person. You'll send the message that your firm cares about your employees' long-term potential with your company.
Trust your staff. Creativity is seldom generated in an environment where risk-taking isn't supported. Make sure employees are empowered to generate ideas and run with them. While you obviously don't want to ignore the potential pitfalls—for instance, the fact that a last-minute design change could cause a project to go over budget—it's important to let employees be in charge of some tasks. They'll know you trust them. Give your staff the necessary resources and guidance to do their jobs, and then allow them to make decisions on how initiatives should be managed. If they seek your advice on problems, ask them to suggest potential solutions. Employees who feel trusted are more likely to stay at a company.
Value their work. Keep in mind that a simple "thank you" still goes a long way with people. Managers who recognize and appreciate exceptional performance increase loyalty. The acknowledgement doesn't need to be expensive in order to be meaningful and effective. Offering praise to an individual or team during a staff meeting can be highly motivating. Don't overlook the contributions of those who frequently take on added responsibilities or increased workloads. Their efforts play a big role in your team's accomplishments and also deserve special thanks.
Pay them well. Most people don't go into the creative profession for the money; however, they still expect to be compensated fairly. If your salary levels aren't competitive, you risk sending the message that your employees are not valuable to your organization's success. This can definitely play a role in the decision to quit. Take the time to stay up to date on compensation trends in the creative field. Look through salary surveys, trade association reports and government data regularly to make sure your pay scale isn't out of line by current standards. (For a free copy of The Creative Group's annual Salary Guide, go to www.creativegroup.com/salaryguide.)
The greater the investments you make in creating a positive work environment, the less likely you are to lose your best employees. Think about the factors that are important to those on your team, and make the necessary changes to fulfill those needs. You'll help to retain top creative talent under any economic conditions.
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals on a project basis with a variety of firms. For more information, visit