What's the main driving force behind losing your key PR players?

A recent survey carried out across the PR and comms industry reveals that it is not the desire for a salary uplift that is most likely to spur PR professionals into seeking out a new and more challenging role, but not being able to progress their career, writes Sarah Leembruggen of The Works Search and Selection.

Why are you losing your key players? Sarah Leembruggen might have the answer
Why are you losing your key players? Sarah Leembruggen might have the answer
It begs the question – are employers doing enough to encourage retention for the most talented PR roles? 

As an employer and executive search consultant there isn’t one straightforward solution when it comes to career progression. 

Over the past few years, the landscape has taken on a much more sophisticated and integrated approach to comms, such that heads of comms and agency heads must now be experts in digital comms, employee engagement and content creation. 

There really is no one-size-fits-all approach around what is expected of each role in the industry. A director in one corporate agency could have wildly different skills, intelligence, experience, motives and attitude to another.  

With the landscape in constant flux and skill sets changing, it’s not altogether surprising to find heads of comms scratching their heads as they try to offer a crystal clear career path.

So, how do employers keep up and offer the kind of career progression that will align with the aspirations of each employee?  

Benchmark, benchmark, benchmark
No two roles are the same – and this is where PR falls down. There is a huge assumption across the industry that a director in one agency is the same as a director in another. Wrong.

Each role needs to be clearly defined, with key requirements and salary benchmarked and a detailed job brief that is specific to the role – this includes considering who the candidate needs to be to meet and exceed the expectations of the job.

If employers don’t take the time to think exactly what each role should achieve and what great looks like, then how will employees know how they can move forward?  

No career path, no retention
Without a clear career path, both employee and employer are going to run into trouble – low commitment to the role resulting in increased job-hopping and a high turnover – and so the costly search begins all over again.

Quite simply, offering a clear career path shows that employers value employees for the work that they are able to do now as well as what they might be able to offer in the long term. The pay-off? Better retention.

It’s not all about the money
Employees are by nature motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose so by giving them ownership of a role, encouraging them to develop their strengths and ensuring that they play a part in the bigger picture, they will feel as though they are growing and developing, and that their careers are progressing.
Employers should hold a values and motives meeting with each team member every six months, as needs and aspirations change quickly. Understanding your employees and ensuring you are meeting their needs is key to helping them progress. 

The door swings both ways  
Whether you're an employee or employer, you are responsible for your own career progression so if you're unsure what’s next for you, ask. Get tangible specifics. You manage your career according to your skills, your experiences, your attitudes, your decisions and your career. It really is up to you.

Sarah Leembruggen is managing director of The Works Search and Selection

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