BY YOMI BADEJO-OKUSANYA fnipr – CMC CONNECT
We are in the middle of a work revolution. Globalization, the rise of Artificial Intelligence and digital transformation paired with a new generation of consumers who desire more personal, intuitive brand experiences, are forcing PR companies to rethink their approach to talent management and acquisition. Employees with capabilities that allow organizations to keep up with this pace of change are now in steep demand with employers struggling to keep them on board.
High employee turnover is worrisome to any employer, considering the expense to recruit, interview, and train new employees, not to mention that these employees may be less adept at their jobs than the experienced workers they are replacing. As the economy improves and the job market grows, employees have more options, making employee retention even more challenging.
In any organization, PR inclusive, the Middle Management are the set of employees who provide strength as they have the knowledge, experience and also possess the required skill set needed to promote competitive advantage. They are popularly regarded as being departmental heads and operational managers who interpret and convey information between the workforce and the leaders of the organization.
Employee retention is one of the highest priorities in organizations, particularly regarding middle-level managers. It requires a long-term strategy that aims to identify talented employees, help nurture and utilize their individual talents, so as to meet the growing demands of the business. Retaining talented middle managers in a PR firm plays an important role in the retention of intellectual capital for the organization while losing these talents not only results in a loss of individual skill and ability but also disrupts the relationship and networks between teams, clients, suppliers and other stakeholders, as well as the structural capital such as systems and processes.
At middle management, employees are either looking for companies with good career development programs, better pay and benefits or want more challenges which makes career development critical to retaining talents.
The major problems plaguing PR agencies, as they struggle to retain talented employees, specifically at the middle organizational level is; Ineffective Retention Strategies. Conscious efforts should be made to deploy the various strategies needed for talent retention within the middle management, which include;
- Leadership: The effectiveness of employee retention tactics in organizations is directly influenced by leaders. Poor and ineffective leadership styles may influence the retention of talented employees. A high level of trust between employees and leaders is associated with employee commitment and ultimately, high employee retention rates.
- Specific Career Development Strategies: Career development also can help with retention because employees can develop a sense of loyalty for employers who are willing to invest in them. When employees perceive that their organizations encourage career development, they feel more confident about their long-term career path. Likewise, when it is time to hire new employees, career development programs can be attractive to job-seekers.
- Organizational Culture: Organizational culture refers to the general behaviour of employees, the characteristics of the organization, and the shared meanings within the organization. Having and maintaining a strong and positive organizational culture is imperative for retaining talented employees. It is evident in the structure of the organization, their values, general working conditions, the atmosphere among the employees, as well as the performance drive of employees. Leaders should articulate and live in accordance with the vision, mission and goals of the organization. Committed employees become frustrated and develop turnover intentions when they witness their work and input going to waste due to inconsistent strategies and vision.
- Performance Management: Performance management is the formal and systematic communication between senior managers and employees regarding behavioural expectations, objectives and goals and ensures that feedback is provided to employees relating to their performance. Performance management is used to identify talented employees as well as to identify and exit employees who sabotage productivity. As an employee retention strategy, middle managers are often given the opportunity to work with HR managers and senior managers of the organization to understand managerial expectations, the long-term objectives of the organization and targets set by the organization. This practice develops, in middle managers, an appreciation of what is demanded of themselves and their teams and, in turn, contribute to feelings of job autonomy.
- Reward management: Reward management, which is closely associated with, and follows on from the practice of performance management, is also utilized as a strategy to retain managerial talent. However, the rewards offered to employees must be tailored to suit and satisfy the middle-level managers. While not completely excluding extrinsic rewards, employees at managerial levels generally prefer intrinsic rewards that promote self-fulfilment. When rewards match the desires of middle managers, which may differ in employees, it enhances the psychological contract, stimulates commitment, reduces turnover intention and retains the managerial talent.
Summarily, in terms of implementing effective retention strategies for middle management employees, it is recommended that PR agencies focus on these strategies. The leaders in PR agencies should also create healthy relationships between them and employees and their intentions for the organization should be communicated transparently and consistently to create an atmosphere of trust.
HR managers should also work with the leaders to ensure that leadership behaviour and all business practices are ethically sound and in implementing leadership retention practices. HR Managers need to ensure alignment between the leaders, the employees and the HR practices in the organisation.
According to the Right Management study, employees at a company with a favourable career climate are four times less likely to say that they are planning to leave than those at a company with a unfavourable career climate. Having these strategies present at their companies will help employees feel encouraged to advance in their career.
Yomi Badejo-Okusanya is the current President of the African Public Relations Association (APRA) and the Group Managing Director of CMC Connect (Perception Managers), one of Nigeria’s leading strategic communication groups. His contribution was put together with assistance from Folashade Olorunyomi, Head of Human Capital & Olasunkanmi Ogunniyi, Senior Business Executive at CMC Connect (Perception Managers)