10 Tips for Attracting and Retaining Talent - Herd Digital

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10 Tips for Attracting and Retaining Talent

Attracting and retaining talent is often dismissed as the job of HR or specific Hiring Managers. But retaining talent is the responsibility of every manager with a team or line management. The job market has never been better for your staff, with more open digital marketing positions than digital marketers to fill them.

This means it has never been more important for you to be aware of the reasons your staff are leaving, and what you can do to create an environment where your staff don’t want to leave.

Here at Herd we ask every candidate we work with “Why are you looking to leave your current role?”. This helps us to find them a role they will thrive in, and also gives us insight in to what their last role was lacking. And the answers we hear are always the same. We’re here to share them with you, so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

10 Tips for Attracting and Retaining Talent

  1. Have a Social Relationship With Your Employees
  2. Recognise The Signs Your Employees Are Considering Leaving
  3. Have Plans In Place For If Someone Does Leave
  4. Pay Them The Market Value
  5. Give Them Work And Clients That Interests Them
  6. Financial Benefits: Salary – Pension – Bonuses
  7. Opportunities For Progression
  8. Give Your Employees Purpose
  9. Offering Flexible Working
  10. Support Your Employees Work/ Life Balance

1. Speak to Your Employees and Ask For Feedback

Having a social relationship with your employees makes you more approachable as a manager, meaning that your employees will be more likely to approach you with problems they have with their job. It also helps you recognise when your employees aren’t happy, so you can work proactively to retain staff.

This can be in the form of regular informal catch ups, to help you gauge how your team is feeling about their work: 

Additionally this could be in the form of anonymous feedback; company wide surveys. People can give more honest feedback when it’s anonymous. But we advise making the questions generalised and not opinion based, to give you actionable insights to improve your business, instead of a varied list of complaints.

2. Look Out For The Red Flags

Be involved with and pay close attention to your employees, means you will be able to recognise the signs that someone is about to leave. These could look like dentist appointments, calling in sick, working from home increasingly with no explanation.

Recognising these signs is your opportunity to have a conversation with your employee before they leave and see if there’s anything you can offer to change their mind.

If there’s no stopping them, then you’ll know that you’ve done everything in your power. And it means you’ll have more time to start looking for their replacement before they’ve even left. Which leads to our next point.

3. Be Prepared For The Worst

To be prepared and have a plan in place for when someone does leave:

“A client I work with told me about an SEO Manager they’ve got on their team: They’re great, but there’s just no room to promote them. So they’re probably going to leave in six months, so I’d like to start looking for her replacement now.”

Alexis Wilkie, Managing Consultant, Herd Digital

With more open jobs than people to fill them, it takes time to replace your employees. And with the knock on effect their absence has on your team and clients, being prepared and acting proactively is a way to mitigate the damage to your projects, clients and team morale

4. Pay Them The Market Value Or Someone Else Will

It’s imperative that you’re up to date with changes in the market for salaries. You should strive to pay the market value for your staff as a minimum. Because this is the minimum your competitors will be offering to you staff.

Instead of asking yourself, is this employee worth the 3k pay rise they’re asking for, consider the cost of replacing this person with 3 years of experience working here: What’s the cost to the team, who now have to cover the work of the person leaving, and work late to make sure deadlines are met? What’s the cost of losing a client because work won’t be finished on time and deadlines have to be pushed back?

5. Give Them Work That Interests Them

The clients and brands that your employees have the opportunity to work on is a huge factor in attracting new and retaining existing talent. The candidates we speak to are often leaving to find new exciting work, or want to work on different brands in different industries.

According to the Major Players salary survey, interesting work is actually in the top three most important factors to attracting and retaining talent.

factors for employers to focus on attracting and retaining talent

6. Salary – Pension – Bonuses

Salary is one of, if not the most, important factor for both attracting and retaining talent.

Regular salary increases show you recognise the hard work and increasing value of your staff: As an employee’s tenure increases with a business, so does their knowledge and worth. After all, your new manager who has been there a year is easier to replace than the Account Director who started as an intern.

Our best clients have regular salary reviews. How often depends on your particular industry. For digital marketing, you should aim to provide your staff with reviews every 6 months. Not only does this make your employees feel valued, it stops them stagnating in their work, and incentivises them to work harder and perform better; knowing that their salary may be affected by the success of their performance in the not-so-distant future.

attracting and retaining talent, the benefits most important to job seekers

Other financial factors that are important to retaining staff are pension and bonuses. An above market pension contribution shows the businesses long term financial commitment to staff, and bonuses incentives hard work and reward success to more than just shareholders.

7. Attract and Retain Talent By Offering Progression Opportunities

Progression doesn’t just mean being promoted and moving upwards in the company. It means different things to different people. And it’s only through discussing with each individual employee what progression looks like to them. 

  • Is it vertical? Are they working towards moving into management? If so, do you have clearly defined timelines and targets that need to be hit to progress?
  • Or are they more interested in moving laterally? Learning other areas of the business, other areas of the industry and becoming a more rounded marketer? This can actually be one of the most important factors for employees, 2.5 times more important than salary and 12 times more important than offering a promotion.
  • Or is their biggest focus on professional development? Are they looking for training and development, to become an expert in their industry? Offering internal or external training is crucial to retaining employees, and so is letting your employees know it is there for when they want or need it.

The two best pieces of advice we can give are to have regular conversations, as these priorities change over time; and let your staff know that training and development or lateral moves are there, they just need to ask.

8. Give Your Employees Purpose

While not as important on our list as say, flexible working hours, it can still be important to address one of the often forgotten motivators in someone’s work, purpose. The feeling that the work your employee does, matters. For example, an SEO executive who works on one section of a client campaign that also involves PPC, Paid Search and Social could easily feel like their work doesn’t matter.

So involve them in the bigger picture. Show them how their work is instrumental to the client account. And giving them an overview of the company plans can be a great way to make your employees feel more involved in the business.

So what’s the overall strategy for the client account? What’s your 3, or 5 year agency plan? And how does each person fit into it? Making them a part of the company’s growth makes it harder to leave and to throw away the years of work they’ve put into the business and their own personal progression plan.

9. Offer Flexible Working Where Possible

Like recruitment, digital marketing is an output focused industry. With KPIs, data and analytics, all the work you do is trackable: meaning it’s easy to support your workers to work how is best for them, to give them the autonomy to: 

  • Choose what days and when to go into the office. 
  • Decide the hours they work, when they get the work done.
  • To be responsible for their own workloads and get the work done that needs to be done.

Giving your employees the autonomy to work how is best for them shows you trust them, which goes a long way. But there are also benefits for yourself as an employer to attracting and retaining talent.

By not requiring your team to be in the office for the sake of being in the office, you open yourself up to whole new talent pools. Some agencies we work with only require their teams to be in the office for the occasional in person client meetings: And this means that talented digital marketers, who wouldn’t consider the daily commute, are now a possibility.

10. Work/ Life Balance

Agencies are renowned for their long hours and crunch times when it comes to delivering campaigns for clients. But more and more we’ve seen agencies disrupting this by not just offering flexibility in their working hours, but putting their employees first when it comes to client deadlines. 

Unlimited holiday is becoming increasingly commonplace throughout the UK, and not just in digital agencies. But what this does signify is a shift in priorities. Employees are seeking quality of life when it comes to work life, and are willing to find work that will support this.

There are even currently multiple digital marketing agencies taking part in the world’s largest four day working week trial; alongside digital agencies undertaking their own independent four day working week trials. 

Agency owners are having to think of innovative solutions to outbid each other for the best talent, while showing that they are taking an employee focused approach.

Attracting New Talent When Your Employees Leave

Sometimes your staff leave for reasons out of your control. They may be looking to learn new skills, enter an area of digital marketing that your agency doesn’t offer, or could be moving geographically.

But your employees leaving is also an opportunity. An opportunity for you to improve your business by finding out why your employees are leaving. Or an opportunity to bring new perspectives and skillsets into the business. Brilliant marketers who you may never have hired if you hadn’t needed to. 

Here at Herd we’re experts in digital recruitment, after all, it’s what we do. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us here to let us know about your hiring needs, or you can contact us here for advice on attracting and retaining talent.

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