The 5 Keys To Conquering Employee Turnover in a Challenging Marketing Climate

3 min read
August 30, 2011

Dear Boss I QuitIn this time of economic uncertainty the only thing we can be sure to expect is change.  Change in the way we live our lives and do business.  No where has that been more apparent than in media and advertising.  Our field has been decimated by layoffs, consolidation and turnover.  As corporations look to trim the fat, marketing and ad budgets have often been the first to go, scattering teams to the far reaches of the globe. Ok, I'm being dramatic.

The fact is our clients all demand more with less and as such Advertising and Media Agencies have been penny pinching from the top down. Unfortunately however, turnover has had a ripple effect at every level creating fundamentally less effective organizations.   Despite the inevitable strategy to pick up the slack, peer groups have become distracted from achieving performance goals and management has been busy devoting time to hiring new team members. In the end we all lose; the client, the agency and ultimately the consumer.

Constant turnover breaks rapport with the client and reflects poorly on account teams and management.  Advertising and Marketing when done right is a team sport.  Like any other team mixing and matching parts is a recipie for disaster.  When there is no continuity and chemistry, its demoralizing for existing employees and the product suffers.

But all is not lost.  I said at the top one thing we can be sure of is to EXPECT change.  For far too long, the sight of a resignation letter or a goodbye email has surprised us.  Expecting change makes it easier to accept it.  Here are some ways to be better prepared.

1. Encourage Group Collaboration:  Its important for your more junior team members to feel a part of the creative process.  Not only do they sometimes provide the best ideas but they become more prepared to fill the void when vacancies arise.

2.  Invest in your Team:  Much like Marketing and Advertising, investments in human resources have been slashed.  Its true what they say "Cheaper to Keep Her."  Take your team to lunch. Encourage them to voice their opinions and complaints and most importantly make them feel heard even when you disagree. Even if they jump ship they will value your leadership and can always be a resource to you.

3.  Step outside the box FORGET the box:  The proverbial "box" has become cliche for the norm.  Its also synonymous with boring, expensive, inefficient and ineffective.  Forget it.  There's a common misconception that there are no new ideas.  Hogwash!  New ideas only stop coming when you stop thinking of them.  It kills me to see a lack of creativity in our industry.  We should be on the front-line right along with digital technology.  Exploring new creative horizons makes us the framers of change, not consumed by it.  Being creative costs nothing, its the risk we're all scared of.  which brings me to to #4.

4. Exercise Calculated Risk Taking: Calculated risks are 100% a must for survival through any tough economy.  With fewer players, the rewards are up for grabs but if you are unwilling to take risks, unfortunately there's not enough sustained growth to support a conservative approach in this business.

5.  Make Your Vendors Do All The Work: Good relationships with your vendors is important.  Everyone hates an annoying salesperson but he can be an excellent resource. Instead of ignoring his phone calls, make him work for your business.  It will keep him busy, productive and more importantly out of your voicemail and inbox.  Most vendors will gladly go above and beyond to earn your business and build rapport.  Ask them to conduct research, mine data, recommend replacements for vacated positions on your team, heck they'll even create your PowerPoint decks and lend you their creative resources if you ask.  There's no limit to what a vendor will do for you if they value your relationship but remember its a two way street.

There's no question this is a tough time for media and advertising and even more challenges loom on the horizon.  A proactive strategy however will help your prepare your organization and team to succeed in light of the inevitable employee merry-go-round.


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