How to Retain People in the Competitive Creative Industry

After carefully composing your job ad, sifting through resumes, interviewing, reference checking, and training, you (finally) have that much-needed team member. And provided that person doesn’t morph into their lazy, evil doppelganger in the first few weeks, you’re going to want to hold on to them. So how do you keep your valued team members yours? Here are a few of our favourite ideas for retaining your creative types:

1. Be Sincere

I don’t know too many people readily swayed by inauthenticity, but do expect those with a creative flair, to have an even lower tolerance. If your company is genuine in their goals, communicates openly, has an obvious allergy to red tape, and clear in their values and mission, you’re more likely to be able to attract and keep staff.

2. Think Global, Act Local

People often gravitate towards companies who have a mission bigger than themselves. Offer staff a set number of paid days per year to volunteer, organize canned food drives, make your Secret Santa event all about charitable donations. Getting your company involved in the greater good feels great and allows your staff member to pursue their altruistic passion to Save the Pangolin for example. A charitable mind set also helps to keep work and business stress in perspective. 

3. Take Holistic Health into Account

A healthy staff member is more than just one who goes to the gym. Mental and emotional health is hugely impactful, as is maintaining a decent work/ life balance. Offer mental health days, add a set number of counseling sessions as part of your health plan, or bring in a massage therapist once a month to work out some staff neck knots.

4. Offer Flexibility

Some staff are more productive from home, others are more productive working alone, and yet others are night owls. Organize your company so that staff can work where or when is best for them. This doesn’t mean that you have to compromise productivity. It just means you need to be smarter in how you track time and measure work capacity.

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5. Offer Incentives

Sure we all like a regular wage raise, but there are plenty of creative ideas to motivate staff to stick around. Start by celebrating staff milestones in team meetings or group emails. Consider offering RRSP matching or extra vacation days for long-term hires. How about an Aeron Chair as a treat for your 5 year anniversary with the company?

6. Create an Inviting Environment

Happy people are contagious, If you’re surrounded by people who are legitimately having a good time, you’re more likely to want to be at the office. Lead by example, make sure having fun is part of your company mission, and make time for team events that let off steam and allow people to mingle on non-work levels.

7. Think of the Little Things That Add Up

Invest in a great coffee maker and decent coffee.  Have nice, clean coffee mugs – think of how a cupboard full of dirty and chipped cups could sully the start of your day. Let staff get the office supplies they need or want – like a decent writing pen or fun coloured post it notes. Start a morning huddle routine, where the company gets together for 10 minutes every morning, to review good news, bad news and set a goal for the day.

8. Up the Ante of Your Physical Office Space

Include both social and quieter spaces. Keep inspirational materials in the office – design magazines, art on the walls, coloured markers and the like. Get an office space that allows staff to bring in their dogs (so long as they’re housebroken). Or what about doing something like Squid Ink Creative, with their Lego conference table.

9. Offer Opportunities

No one likes to be locked into a box, but this might be especially true for creative types (and Schrodinger’s cat). Build a company that provides chances to grow, to try new things, and develop new skills. Let staff attend local events related to the industry or their career goals.

10. Provide Mentorship

No amount of Lego tables, office mutts and fancy coffee will atone for bad interpersonal vibes. Yes, of course, we all need to suck it up and get along, but there’s no harm in trying to create an environment where people get the best mentors for their skills and personalities. Also be sure to have staff assessment tools in place, that take skills into account accordingly. You can’t criticize a fish if it can’t climb a tree – or something like that.

We’d be glad to hear your thoughts on how to keep your staff happy, or what you’d like to see from your company emperors as an employee!

This article was written by former Function Point employee, Emma Lauder

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