Retaining our agency’s talent is naturally always top-of-mind for CID’s leadership team, and not just because our clients often cite our people as a reason they love working with us. We have an average employee tenure of about 6 years. That’s a pretty strong number, but it isn’t the whole story. We have a handful of people who’ve been around for 10 or even 20+ years. (When you find a good place to work you tend to stick around as long as possible.)
I asked CID’s HR Director, Terry Westfahl, to share some of her tips for retaining top talent in a highly competitive industry.
CID has a strong average employee tenure. What do you think contributes to people wanting to stay here when the industry in general tends to have fairly high turnover?
TW: I have been in HR for over 30 years and working at CID is by far the most incredible place I have ever had the pleasure to work. I think a major reason that our team members want to stay here is the stability compared to some other organizations. We don’t have the “churn and burn” environment that has often been the hallmark of working at an agency. We’re kind of an “un-agency” that way. CID is also very serious about our work-life harmony philosophy. That all contributes to our amazing, talented team members wanting to work together to create the unparalleled work we deliver. I describe CID as where the best come to do their best.
That kind of environment doesn’t just happen. What are some things you and other leaders have done to help nurture and shape the culture?
TW: First, we invite the whole person to show up to work. We want people here to feel comfortable being who they are. We are also very interested in everyone's voice, both in hearing it and understanding how people work best. There are a series of tools and assessments we use to help shed light on our communication styles, so that’s one thing that helps us all have an awareness of how we can best work together.
Clear communication is important, so we made sure to develop and share career ladders for our practice areas so people are aware of paths available to them to move up in the organization.
And, we try to create opportunities to be together in ways that go beyond work, like our summer picnic or volunteer opportunities.
When does employee retention enter your mind in the hiring process?
TW: Retention is foremost on our minds when hiring and onboarding new employees. We use a number of assessments to understand how candidates work best and confirm that we are able to provide that for them so they can be successful. We can’t accommodate every ask, but we do try to be responsive.
What tips or advice do you have for keeping top talent around, or words of wisdom you rely on for keeping employees engaged?
TW: Although it's a very basic concept it's important to listen to your employees. It makes a difference. Show them you truly care about them as people. Be approachable and invite them to be vulnerable — and foster an environment where they feel safe being vulnerable — so that you really understand how to support them. Treating people like the humans they are goes such a long way, but it is unfortunately not always a standard practice in some workplaces. I think a lot of people have had that negative experience elsewhere at some point, so to be here and be treated differently becomes very meaningful.
What is the most challenging thing about employee retention?
TW: In today's job market, there is often fierce competition for talented employees. Skilled workers may have multiple job offers and can easily switch companies if they are not satisfied with their current role. But simply throwing more money at an employee is rarely the answer, and it would wreak havoc on internal equity. That is why we focus on providing both a competitive total rewards package and a work environment that demonstrates that we care about them and their career development.
Thanks for sharing some of your insider tips, Terry, and shedding some more light on why our employees love working at CID, and clients love working with our employees.
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