Heads of Comms, Agency Heads – Are you doing everything you can to retain your star players?

24 May 2016 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Findings from our salary survey showed that the highly sought after roles in PR and Communications are being handsomely rewarded: Account Directors, Senior Account Managers and Account Managers have all benefited from significant salary uplifts across the agencies; the most movement and demand in the in-house firms is at PR Manager level and there were impressive gains to be had here, too.

Candidates for these prized roles are hard to come by, and they know it. The most in-demand talent are well aware that they have options; it’s now standard that their search will generate multiple offers and counteroffers.

Another survey statistic worth mentioning is the 47% of participants who believe they are underpaid, showing just how candidates’ expectations exceed local market rates, particularly if they are in a strong negotiating position, which is certainly the case when faced with a shrinking talent pool. The message here is clear – when you hire a top performer with sought after skills onto your team, it’s a must to offer meaningful pay rises and other stay incentives if you don’t want to risk losing them and restarting the hiring process.

Remember – however handsomely you reward them, your best players will know that they have the key skills that could take them anywhere they fancy, giving them increased confidence in their employment prospects elsewhere.

So what are the secrets to making sure the top talent isn’t tempted to explore pastures new? What exactly should Heads of Comms and Agency Heads be doing to encourage retention?

Create a clear career path

When asked what motivates them to stay with their current employer, 46% of our survey participants said career progression. By giving employees a clearly defined career path with realistic timelines for reaching professional goals, they can visualise themselves attaining the role they are working towards, and you can offer the appropriate support and guidance. Enhance their chances of success and you will build loyalty in the process – and it should stop them from heading for the hills.

Play to their strengths

While increasing salaries is a positive way to boost employee retention, it’s worth noting that in another of our survey questions, more than half (51%) of respondents said that career progression is the most important factor in their decision to stay or go. The career path is without doubt king. Take the time to identify a person’s natural strengths and ask them to lead/champion on this – whether it’s bringing in new business, handling the company’s social media platforms or organising team socials. Giving responsibility, ownership and freedom leads to happy, engaged employees.

Listen – and understand

Not recognising what’s important to the members of your team can translate into job dissatisfaction, lower productivity, and higher voluntary turnover. It’s critical to regularly ‘take the temperature’ of the workplace and survey employees to identify where the company excels in providing a positive employee experience as well as opportunities to improve.

Don’t neglect the team culture

With almost one third (32%) of respondents saying that the work culture is an important factor when considering a job move, this is clearly a statistic not to be shunned. While many leaders may think that this is ‘the fluffy stuff’, it is anything but. Your team culture is built on the values that inspire and motivate your employees, creating a productive, exciting and fun working environment. There is tremendous value in creating a strong workplace culture – it gives employees a sense of unity, promotes healthy competition, brings the best out of each team member, and gives everyone that all-important sense of direction, promoting long-term loyalty and retention.

The long and short of it?

Employees want to feel valued. They want to be compensated well; they want to be challenged and have the opportunity to progress; they want to contribute to something meaningful; they want to be part of a positive work culture; and they want to have a good work-life balance. Yes, salary increases and bonuses have a role to play in retaining the quality talent, but money by no means does all the talking…

To read the full survey results click here.

The Works Search specialise in placing mid to senior level PR and communications talent in leading PR agencies and in-house organisations across London, on both a contingency and executive search basis. For our latest roles visit our jobs page, or contact the team on 0207 559 6690 to discuss your career in confidence.

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