How to deal with staff turnover in a PR agency

By January 18, 2017September 10th, 2018Marketing & Communications Agencies, Staff


A perennial headache for PR agency owners is high staff turnover. Whilst this is an issue for many businesses, it seems to affect the communications industry much more than other industries – in particular small-to-medium sized agencies. High staff turnover has a huge impact upon the bottom line of any agency, not to mention a huge impact on the sanity of the owner!

High staff turnover costs the business in many ways, including:

  • Training of new staff
  • Losing clients due to frustrations at dealing with a revolving door of people
  • Recruitment costs
  • Loss of work due to having nobody to complete it
  • Time cost of advertising, interviewing, etc.

So it’s clear that there are benefits to keeping your staff turnover nice and low. What follows are some strategies you can employ to help keep the staff turnover of your agency down as low as possible. Please remember that everyone is different, so you’ll need to try a range of strategies to see what works best for your team.

  • Salary

    You should be regularly reviewing information from a wide range of sources to ensure your pay packages are fair and marketable. You can do this via publicly available surveys, browsing the online job listings, discussing with fellow business owners in the industry, etc. Be competitive so that salary isn’t a reason for your team to start shopping around. That said, don’t let it become the be all and end all – if you’re not in a position to pay market rates, be transparent about this and offer things you can afford (for example, extra leave).

  • Setting clear goals

    People like to know what is expected of them and there are few things more demotivating than not knowing what your boss expects of you and what the path to success looks like. Ensure that all team members have clear position descriptions which include a clear outline of their duties, responsibilities, reporting lines, as well as key performance indicators and the path to success.

  • Bonus payments

    There are many ways to do this. One, for example, for staff that are fee earners you can have a bonus scheme based on achieving individual financial targets. These schemes can work really well provided they are simple, transparent, and fair for all involved.

  • Birthday leave

    Some staff like cakes and having a room full of well-intentioned people singing happy birthday at them, and some do not. With that in mind, why not offer your team members a day off on their birthday? Just keep in mind that some people really like coming in on their big day, so perhaps make it available any time within a week of the actual day.

  • Social events

    Everyone has a story about a miser boss who only took the team out once a year and they had to pay for their own drinks or a boss who made them bring in their own birthday cake. Don’t be that person. Staff outings don’t need to be expensive or debaucherous. What they should do is let the team know that you care and give them an opportunity to unwind. Most importantly they are an opportunity for team members to bond outside of the office – teams who play together, stay together! Whilst an afternoon in a beer garden is always welcome, throw in some curve balls from time to time – go-karting, amazing races, dodge ball tournaments, etc. These kinds of events are also great fodder for your firm’s social media and can help when it comes to recruiting new staff, particularly the younger ones.

  • Interesting work

    Speak with your team members regularly about the kinds of work your business handles and what in particular interests them. They may like working with particular types of clients, or particular types of work, or they may be interested in helping you run your business by handling things such as HR matters, systems and policies, IT, marketing, social media, etc. Ask, listen, and action to keep your team members engaged and happy.

  • Regular feedback

    Don’t save feedback up for the annual review. Give feedback regularly! Positive feedback should be made publicly where possible so the team member can feel valued and to ensure other staff are aware of the person’s achievements. Negative feedback should always be handled with care and should include a path to improvement – don’t say “this was rubbish”, say “this wasn’t great, next time try XYZ, we can run through it together”. Annual reviews should focus on pay and the plans for the coming year – they shouldn’t be used as a chance to dump on the team member for stuff that happened months ago. We use a piece of software called Small Improvements to manage staff reviews including the dreaded 360 degree feedback process.

  • Charitable donations

    Each year it’s good to give something to those less fortunate than ourselves, so take some time out and engage with your team on the issues that matter to them and then make some donations accordingly. The team will appreciate being asked for their input when it comes to charitable giving.

As mentioned earlier, these won’t work with all team members. Have a think about what will work with your team to keep them engaged, energised and productive!

We work with countless business owners to help them with staffing issues. In fact, it’s probably the most common problem we help our business advisory clients with! If you feel you’d benefit from help managing your staff and the myriad issues that comes along with having a team, please get in touch today. We’d love to help.