I felt the need to weigh in with my own thoughts here as well. For the sake of ease and brevity, I’ll just go point by point.
The problem: External recruitment rather than internal support
My take: Yes, yes and yes. Once you’ve got at least a year, even less, under your belt in PR, the recruiters start calling and emailing with enticing opportunities elsewhere. Perhaps it’s the human default – the grass is always greener on the other side, and if you aren’t exactly thrilled working where you are, a recruiter might just help you jump ship before someone internally lends you help, valuable career insight or direction. Should I even mention that the recruiters always tout higher salary? Not to give my generation a blanket overgeneralization…but I will…a higher salary will always be enticing to us/me at first glance. Obviously I will do my homework and due diligence, and not simply switch jobs for a dollar sign, but man can a raise sound and feel nice. Sallie Mae is knocking on my door, people!
The problem: Low wage increase is the new normal
My take: I cannot speak from the business owner perspective and won’t pretend like I know the perfect solution to this issue. Like I said above, a more competitive salary is enticing. I used to work for an agency that gave me a raise (even if modest) every six months via formal review and that gave me the warm and fuzzies. It felt good – like I was valued and appreciated. Even if it was an “HR tactic” to keep people on board, I’ll take it. I sound like such a money grubber, sorry. I’m not!
The problem: Lack of management accountability
My take: YES. I have only ever worked for small (and one mid-sized) agencies and a reoccurring theme was lack of guidance, on-boarding, acclimation and training for new people. With that said, I truly believe that this is an issue because senior level management is time-strapped. I’m sure there are exceptions of laziness, burnouts and the like, but no smart business owner will intentionally fail their people from the start – not unless they want to lose clients left and right. I second Lawrence’s sentiments from his entry: “A manager’s responsibilities should always include training, mentoring and protecting their staff by making sure they are properly prepared to do the work being assigned to them.” There must be time allotted for these types of things. Clients’ needs will have to be put aside to allow for this time, but in the end, the better trained and acclimated their team is, the longer the relationship will last (hopefully).
The problem: Non-existent onboarding
My take: Pretty much covered in the above. The only thing I’ll add is that I too have been thrust into a new business pitch the third day I was working at a new firm. I was so unprepared and it was embarrassing. For the sake of solid client relationships and always being perceived as thoughtful, prepared and strategic, no new hire should take part in any external pitches or meetings before they are ready.
If I were to pinpoint one specific issue that threads throughout all points made in this entry, it is this: lack of time and resources. Many of the problems Lawrence points out and their respective solutions have to do with people, namely management, having the appropriate time and resources to:
- Internally support staff so they aren’t readily poached by recruiters;
- Research appropriate, competitive industry wages and review staff members every 6-12 months granting them wage increases if earned;
- Properly advise, oversee and train junior staff.
None of these “fixes” will slow or even stop the high turnover rate in PR anytime soon. This will be a drawn out process. But perhaps if we make time and commit to bettering our staff retention practices, there could be some positive change. Now repeat after me: Sorry client, we can’t come to the phone right now, we have internal onboarding to do so your AE sticks around!
What makes me stick around? Feeling valued, heard, challenged and passionate about the work I’m doing. What about you?