6. Build Flexibility into Your Organization
At a time when technology provides greater mobility than ever before, we are flexible about alternative work schedules and
accommodate individual preferences and family needs as an important aspect of keeping personnel happy and involved. It also
means that the agency keeps staff members who are important to business relationships or creative initiatives.
7. Shop at Home First
While going outside for new talent is often necessary, wherever possible we promote from within, benefiting from our investments
in management and training. This ensures that the agency's culture, operations knowledge, and values are kept within our organization,
and minimizes recruitment costs due to staff losses.
According to the US Department of Labor, workers change jobs an average of 10 times between the ages of 18 and 38. We strive
to provide a place where ambitious people can grow, and mark out the paths available for promotion. In addition, when a person
wants to go in a different direction (for example, from a junior account service role to a junior creative role), we do our
best to find a spot that fits his or her career objective, allowing change in jobs to occur all within our own agency.
8. Be Aware of the Needs and Potential of Your Staff
To keep staff motivated, you need to know what they need and want. By holding focus groups with small groups of employees,
we let our staff tell us how they feel and what they need to do their jobs better. We find out what's most meaningful to them
in their jobs so we can motivate them. Do they want more recognition or time from their bosses? The opportunity to work in
another therapeutic area? More challenge in their work? More flex time? We do our best to accommodate them whenever possible.
Finally, to make sure our managers are doing their jobs, we double check our own assessments through an outside firm that
conducts 360-degree interviews among the subordinates, peers, and supervisors of every director and above. This allows us
to spot problems early and fix them before they begin to cause bigger problems.
9. Work to Live, Not the Converse
Obviously, there are times when people need to work late, but making it a regular habit—or encouraging people to work until
midnight as a "badge of honor"—is likely to result in burnout, as well as dampening creativity. A vital life outside the office
recharges the batteries and makes for a happier staff that creates better and fresher work. Times with friends, music, books,
movies, plays, and TV can all inspire ideas, so encourage people to get out and have fun. We try to make sure we have a staffing
plan in all of our departments that allows most people, most of the time, to leave at a reasonable hour and not have to work
weekends. Of course, during a launch or other crunch time, that doesn't happen. But in our agency, those situations are exceptions.
10. Break Silos and Have Fun
It's important to encourage people to share thoughts, ideas and experiences, so they can learn from each other and pass knowledge
on to others. Every year we schedule brand update presentations, where account supervisors make 20-minute presentations to
vice president–account directors about what their brands are facing and how their teams are dealing with it. We also have
an annual brand fair that allows account and creative teams to display the work they're doing. Both of these activities give
mid-level and junior staff exposure to their peers and senior staff, and allow for cross-fertilization of ideas.
Your staff works hard, give them time for fun. Every week we provide "Free Lunch Friday," which brings people together to
talk, laugh, be with friends, and meet new ones. The nominal fee we charge is donated to a charity, which brings me to my
11. Practice Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility programs are becoming vital aspects of corporate culture. We've actively solicited causes,
including health organizations and charities, to which we contribute creativity, skills, and even cash donations. From collecting
warm coats to knitting hats, gloves, and scarves to creating ads and promotional materials for health associations, we have
a range of offerings that allow everyone to participate in activities that interest them and make them proud of our organization
and its generosity.
As Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, now professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said, "Your
most precious possession is not your financial assets. [It] is the people you have working there, what they carry around in
their heads, and their ability to work together."
As your most valuable commodity, your people are what build your name and reputation and what make a great agency. Treat them
as your most precious asset and they'll continue to pay dividends for years to come.
Michael R. Perry is vice president, account director for AbelsonTaylor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org