The global PR industry is dealing with a pandemic of its own – how to retain key talent, according to the ICCO World PR Report 2021-2022. Retaining talent is the number one challenge faced by PR leaders, according to Francis Ingham, Chief Executive of ICCO (International Communications Consultancy Organisation), which represents 3,000 PR firms in 82 countries worldwide. What are the reasons for this turnover in key PR staff, and what can be done about it? Here are 6 strategies to boost PR employee retention by keeping staff engaged.
Many professionals choose a job in the sector before deciding that it’s not really the career path they want. Other reasons are the stress from constant time pressure, as well as pay not being adequate for the intensive work involved. As a result, younger workers who wish to stay in the industry frequently change jobs in order to obtain a better job title and higher pay. Then, what can PR managers do to preserve talented employees? There is not a single winning strategy for keeping staff happy and loyal, but these sensible measures can help.
6 strategies to boost PR employee retention by keeping staff engaged
Loyal and long-term PR teams can lead to continuity of productivity, retention of organizational knowledge, and strengthening of media connections. Let’s dive deep into these strategies:
1. Offer competitive compensation and benefits
Numerous PR employers these days are focusing on the glitz and glam of unlimited vacations, happy hours inside the workplace, and frequent team outings. Many managers believe these steps will keep millennials engaged and will boost PR employee retention.
While such benefits are appealing, they should not be exploited to compensate for flaws in your firm’s framework, objectives, or culture. A treat now and then is welcome, but more vacation time may mean not even having the freedom to disconnect from work during holidays. A happy hour once a week in the workplace implies, well, another additional hour at the desk.
Hence, focus benefits on programs that truly improve employees’ wellbeing, such as offering breakfast, flexible remote-working options, and pay and bonuses.
Another great idea to keep up employees’ morale is to launch EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs).
What’s an EAP?
EAPs assist employees in resolving work-related issues — via counseling and consulting under the guidance of experts. It not only boosts employees’ psychologically, but also enables them to enhance their long-term engagement levels. EAPs can offer assistance through finances, improved workplace interactions, increased performance, or dealing with mental health problems.
One good example of an EAP is the implementation of a donation matching program. A donation matching program for good causes involves a company matching employee donations, allowing the individual’s investment to have a greater impact. Donation matching usually refers to monetary contributions. Learn more.
2. Revamp the performance review framework
New conventions are replacing antiquated practices when it comes to judging employee performance. Many companies are completely overhauling their employee feedback systems, abandoning the age-old annual performance reviews. A planned, efficient performance management system has a direct effect on increased employee engagement and retention.
For extremely effective performance management that leads to enhanced loyalty and commitment, and will boost PR employee retention, employers should consider 4 critical elements:
(a) Clear expectations
Whenever a new employee starts at your firm, the first phase in the employee performance process starts. It’s critical that the very first discussion between the manager and their team member focuses on defining expectations throughout the first week. Managers should assess the role requirements, clearly outline responsibilities, establish evaluation standards, define lines of authority, and familiarize the new recruit to your organization’s values and culture during this initial meeting.
(b) Key objectives
Targets and important milestones should be explicit, precise, and demanding, and they should assist employees in prioritizing their tasks. Establishing aims and outcomes at a workplace shouldn’t be done just from the top down – it should be reached jointly with your team members. Managers can assist their team members to connect their performance to the company’s success during the goal-setting process. Employees must be able to perceive how their work contributes to the organization’s success.
(c) Regular feedback
Conventional performance management relies on a single occasion for employee input — the review at the year’s end. Now is the time to establish goal-related feedback from staff that is offered on a routine basis. The role’s expectations should be reflected in the feedback.
Managers can use continuous and recurrent one-on-one sessions to build programs that support them in engaging via more regular feedback. These meetings serve as a frequent forum for employee appreciation, constructive criticism, career growth, and professional development.
(d) A sample of effective software for performance reviews
Finally, invest in tools that allow you to conduct powerful performance and 360° assessments, which are simple to integrate, execute, and useful to all parties involved. Choose a platform that will help you save resources during performance reviews while also fostering an accessible, value-generating, and transparent feedback culture. Software for performance reviews should be simple to use, straightforward, and customizable. Examine how quickly the shortlisted software provider’s customer care team responds to your criticism and recommendations.
3. Establish open communication
PR employers, as in all other businesses, need to take initiatives to create environments that allow staff to interact and readily exchange ideas.
Discussions inside the cafeteria can rapidly turn into collaborative conversations. Make the space welcoming and effective by adding comfortable chairs, tables, and, if feasible, refreshments.
You should strive to create a work environment where employees can express themselves. They require a workspace in which they may openly communicate their thoughts and concerns.
An effective communication tactic for instilling a transparent culture is the open-door policy. It demonstrates that you’re always willing to hear what your colleagues have to say.
An effective communication framework is critical for a boost in engagement and retention levels. This is why more firms are focusing on improving their internal communication policies. In fact, my article, “Employee communication policy guidelines,” is one of my most popular articles. Here, you can find out additional ways on how to use better communication to boost employee engagement.
4. Think of a hybrid work culture
One of the most sought-after qualities in a new position is the ability to work from home. It has currently become more of a need rather than a perk.
Since the COVID-induced lockdowns, hybrid workspaces have evolved into a popular alternative. It is defined as the freedom to work in an office or from home, depending on one’s preferences. In the United States, 74% of workers are willing to abandon their jobs in order to work remotely. Around 31% want to work from home, but their employer won’t let them. Some businesses, however, are not completely sold on the concept of a remote workforce. However, a blended model can serve as a winning scenario for firms and workers.
In a hybrid framework, employees save both time and money by avoiding commuting. Work-life balance is improved, and there are less distractions. Working from home is also a much safer alternative. The flexibility and benefits will encourage employees to stay with you in the long run.
Employers can save resources on infrastructure, overhead, office politics, and absenteeism. The finest feature is that employing employees is not limited by geography. As a result, you have access to a larger pool of talent.
However, during the hours that employees work remotely, it’s critical for managers to preserve positive relationships by creating a positive workplace culture in a hybrid model.
5. Be clear about their career pathway
Employees who may not think there are appealing career growth options for them with their current employer tend to leave, especially now.
As a result, you should make a point of conducting skills training sessions and providing career mentoring. Regular career planning discussions with employees are essential for them to feel their employer has their best interests at heart. Make sure that your staff are aware of the various career routes or employment prospects within the organization as a crucial part of their learning and growth journey.
Additionally, engage your team members in a range of duties and allow them to collaborate with other departments. Significant collaboration will create greater workplace knowledge for them, an opportunity to contribute to other departments’ performance, and ultimately the organization’s performance. This will aid in the generation of better ideas as well as the improvement of workplace relationships. It will also help them become more competent and accomplished in their careers.
6. Reduce working hours
When an employee works longer than typical hours, their productivity suffers. And surveys have found that PR work is in the top 10 most stressful US jobs, according to a 2019 survey by CareerCast, which found stress hazards for PR people include:
- Competitiveness in the industry
- Interacting with the public [and journalists!]
- Micromanaging by bosses
- Uncommunicative bosses
- Constant distractions
- Low potential for higher pay or career advancement.
People working exceptionally long shifts or who exit the desk late are typically considered as more committed and productive. However, just because someone is busy, it doesn’t mean that they are productive. Rather, it is a stumbling block to achievement.
Hence, focus on quality rather than quantity. Try to go for a regular 6-hour shift so that employees have the flexibility of spending time with their families and friends.
Examine ways in which tools and apps can help PR pros be more productive with their pressured time. For instance, software to manage media pitching can save a lot of labor time.
The energy of the entire team is affected by happiness. When you cultivate a positive team and company culture with the help of the above six tips, you can multiply the beneficial effects throughout your organization and work groups. This increases employee engagement overall and fosters teamwork, leading to loyalty and will boost PR employee retention.
Kim J. Harrison has authored, edited, coordinated, produced and published the material in the articles and ebooks on this website. He brings his experience in professional communication and business management to provide helpful insights to readers around the world. His wide-ranging career includes roles as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer and business manager. Kim has received several international media relations awards and a website award. He has been quoted in The New York Times and various other news media, and has held elected positions with his State and National PR Institutes.