How to Decrease Staff Turnover in a Marketing Agency

Once you've hired great employees, you want to entice them to stay with your company for as long as possible. So what are the best ways to decrease staff turnover? Read on for a rundown!
how to decrease staff turnover
By Katelyn Payne Oct 18, 2021
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The average annual turnover rate for agencies is about 30%, making it one of the highest of any industry. Preventing turnover altogether is ideal, but once an employee has left, creative teams face even more challenges. Handling the problems created by turnover is difficult, especially for agencies with a close-knit team. It takes time for the company to find, evaluate, and hire a new team member once someone has left, which can take away from the projects the team is currently working on. The cost of replacing an employee is estimated to be 20% of their salary, meaning that advertising and marketing agencies need ways to handle the high industry turnover rate and prevent it.

Interview vs. Reality 

The main source of employee dissatisfaction and eventual turnover begins during the first interaction with the agency in an interview. Interviews go both ways, so it is very important that agencies establish the role a creative will play on the team before they move forward in the hiring process. This ensures that they will be a good fit for the position and that they will be doing work that they enjoy. 

In some cases, interviews do not match reality. Shortly after they are on-boarded, employees can end up doing work they did not expect to do based on their initial interview. A few tasks outside of their main responsibilities are to be expected, but their first few projects should be focused on what they were hired to do as they begin to navigate the company. If they are unhappy with their responsibilities and do not see room for negotiation on this, they will leave the agency after a few months.

Depending on the style of your interview process, there are a couple of ways to ensure this does not happen to your new hires. Including someone from the department they will be working with in the interview is a great way to give the candidate insight into the types of projects they will have. If you’re hiring to fill a new or vacant position, include someone who will serve as a direct supervisor or point of contact early on in the interview process.

Another method is to survey your current employees. It does not have to be another formal interview, just a check-in to evaluate how their interview experience compares to their current position and the type of work they are doing. This should occur about three months after they have been hired so they are still able to recall how they felt in the interview. Additionally, ask them about their perception of the agency culture based upon the interview compared to their perception of it now. If there is a large gap between the two, then you will need to take their feedback and restructure how you conduct interviews. 

Goals & Growth 

One element that many marketing agencies lack is professional development opportunities for their employees, causing many to look for new opportunities rather than staying at one agency for their entire career. If one of the overall goals for your agency is growth, your team should feel like there are ways for them to participate in that growth. The same can be said for any agency mission or goal, because when your team resonates with agency values, they will feel more united. Maintaining a consistent mission and culture stems from agency leadership, but should also involve members of the team. Having your team buy into the decisions being made is necessary for them to feel valued.

If employees are not able to see tangible results from their work within their first few months at the agency, they will begin to feel distant due to their lack of recognition. Regardless of their role on the team, everyone in advertising and marketing feels proud when their efforts have contributed to great work. Depending on an agency’s structure, some teams may hesitate in giving new hires work before they have become fully acquainted with a client. Don’t be afraid to give your new team members opportunities to show their stuff, because it will help them feel more connected to your agency.

The pandemic has had a unique effect on turnover. Many employees who planned to leave their current place of work could not, due to the fact that it is difficult to find comparable work elsewhere. As these employees adapt to the industry changes brought on by the pandemic, they will be looking for new opportunities within their agencies. The future of advertising turnover will continue to decline post-pandemic if agencies adopt new practices to provide room for growth and development.  

Pay & Benefits 

Offering competitive pay and benefits to your team may sound like it will cost the agency more money, but in reality it is most effective to pay current employees more and retain their talent. Comparing industry salaries using online tools can help you be certain that you are paying your team members competitively. 

Benefits like unlimited paid time off and other vacation policies allow your employees to be more committed to their job. Creatives and strategists alike need time to recharge so they can produce their best work. It is best to commit to a policy once you have implemented it to ensure that no one has to choose between getting work done and taking care of themselves. 

While benefits are necessary, no number of free items or paid days off can completely replace agency culture, because perks are not enough to make employees stay. People must also feel like the work they are doing is meaningful and productive, as it gives them a reason to be passionate about the tasks they are completing. Some of the best benefits are built into agency structure, such as coaching and skill development opportunities. It is especially important for agencies to find the right balance between perks and professionalism within their culture so employees can reach their peak potential. Even the most casual creative agencies can provide their employees with opportunities for growth — it just might look different from agencies that prefer to be more structured and formal.

Communication = Key 

If your team is remote, you know that effective personal communication is the key to staying focused and happy. Creative collaboration should be kept at the forefront of all your projects to keep an emphasis on team engagement. This should be a priority for new hires too, as socializing with the team is important in their success and connection to the agency. Having open communication with a new employee across the first six months gives them the opportunity to ask any questions and become acquainted with the agency. Try implementing creative ways to get to know new employees, like personality quizzes, new-hire lunches, or anything to make them feel special during their onboarding process.

Using project management tools to share work and meet virtually are crucial to helping team members stay connected while everyone is apart. A centralized software helps keep all of your agency’s work and requests in one place, eliminating room for error or confusion. When your team is able to stay on track and work efficiently, they will feel proud of what they are accomplishing.

Improving communication and structure does not have to be complicated for agency leadership. It can be as simple as having project managers record how often they meet with clients, having creatives record the time they spend working with their team, and having the leadership team monitor numbers over the quarter. Then you can draw conclusions to determine where communication and collaboration are strong, and what areas need work. Having clear communication within your agency can ensure that the entire team has a clear direction, and that no employee feels left behind.