As the current recession drags on, it's easy to forget there was a time when employee retention was every PR agency's number one business priority. In fact, for most of the last two decades, attracting and retaining strong talent was the most significant inhibitor to growth that our industry faced.
When the market finally does rebound, employee retention will once again rise to the top of our lists—only it will be more crucial and harder to do than ever before. To prepare, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you offer the option to telecommute from home and/or work part-time to employees with young children or burdened with lengthy commute times?
- Do you provide the tools and infrastructure required to take advantage of this flexibility? (E.g., laptops, smartphones, and Google Docs for increased mobility)
- Is your physical office environment stimulating, so employees look forward to coming into the office to collaborate each day?
- Do you resist the temptation to take on boring clients just for the revenue?
- Do you always, without fail, give performance reviews on time?
- Do you offer the best health, dental and vision benefits in your market and do so with no employee contribution?
- Do you offer the best 401(k) match possible?
- Do salaries align with the high-end of pay at competing PR firms in your market? Do you generally exceed individual expectations when it comes to increases and bonuses?
Like the economic downturn of 2002-2003, one byproduct of this latest recession will be a talent vacuum of people who normally would have entered the industry in 2009. In five years, we'll be back to fighting over senior account executives with expectations of six-figure salaries and sign-on bonuses, which we'll gladly meet for them plus a whole lot more. To lessen the blow, take steps now to make sure your best people stick by you when the economy improves.
Fred Bateman, CEO and founder, Bateman Group