Retain Your Best Employees

As the economy begins to improve, retaining key members of your team will be critical—and more challenging. According to a survey our company conducted with, 45 percent of professionals plan to change employers, careers or industries after the inevitable recovery. Now is the time to ensure you’re keeping your team engaged and inspired. Following are some tips:

Check compensation. Salary is the first place managers should look when evaluating the strength of their current retention strategies. In our survey with, nearly half of workers polled said offering higher compensation will be the most effective way to retain them after the economy improves. Simply put, workers who feel undervalued are likely to look for greener pastures. Research current compensation standards and trends to make sure the salaries you offer employees are above or at least on par with competitors in your area. The Creative Group’s annual Salary Guide, online salary calculators and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics are all excellent resources.

Keep in touch. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business of running a creative department and not give adequate attention to ongoing communication with employees. Don’t wait until performance reviews to talk to your staff about their long-term prospects at your organization or assume that they know they’re candidates for advancement. Meet with those on your team regularly to discuss what they like most about their work, what challenges they face, what they’d like to be doing at your firm in the future and what type of support you can offer to help them reach their career goals.

Say thanks. Never underestimate the value of expressing your gratitude for a job well done. Did one of your designers work long hours on a branding initiative? Write a thank-you note or acknowledge the effort in a team meeting or the company newsletter. Again, don’t wait until annual review time to praise an employee for stellar work. Timely recognition boosts morale and shows employees you are paying attention to their efforts and value their contributions. 

Get flexible. Maintaining work/life balance is important to employees, and there are many low-cost programs firms can implement to help workers balance their lives, such as offering alterative work arrangements, telecommuting, flextime or job sharing.

Listen. Maintain an open-door policy so people can come to you with questions and concerns. By encouraging feedback, you’ll send the message that their ideas and opinions matter. And don’t wait around for them to stroll into your office—make it a point to check in with each member of your creative team frequently. In addition, share appropriate information about the business and how their efforts benefit the company. You’ll help staff feel personally invested in the firm’s future.

Embrace mentoring programs. Designers at various stages of their careers can benefit from working with supportive and experienced mentors. Providing opportunities for tutelage also show that you care about your employees’ professional development. Moreover, mentors can enhance their own leadership skills while facilitating a protégé’s career growth.

Sell the firm. Continuously emphasize the positive aspects of your company, even if you’re not in hiring mode. News of company honors or awards, recent press coverage, or important milestones should be shared—and celebrated—with the group. Remember, your job is to ensure your staff feel good about working for the company and realize that it is the best place for them to be.

Trust your staff. Let team members take ownership of their assignments and empower them by encouraging entrepreneurial thinking and smart risk taking. People tend to do a better job on projects when they’re accountable for their own decisions and actions and are allowed to put their personal stamp on work, as opposed to being micromanaged and asked to simply “follow orders.”

By employing the retention tactics above, you can hang on to your best design stars and avoid the high costs associated with turnover. Though you can’t stop every good employee from leaving your firm, you can get a jump-start on retention to better your chances of keeping top talent on board for the long term.

The Creative Group
is a specialized staffing service placing creative profesionals and HOW’s official career partner.