Driving Employee Engagement for Creative Teams
By Danny Rickard, Director of Creative Operations, TeamPeople

There is a lot of buzz these days around employee engagement, but it is often confused with levels of satisfaction or happiness. The true meaning centers on the psychological investment of employees in their organizations — how connected they feel to the missions of their companies. For many “in-house agencies,” the dominating factor for employee engagement is often based on how much their projects feed their creative spirit. Studies show that 64% of employees in North America are disengaged from their jobs. Surprisingly, it’s not about the money, as only 12% leave for higher paying jobs. Conversely, 75% of employees who voluntarily leave their jobs do so because of dissatisfaction with their bosses. The cost of keeping these unhappy, disengaged employees runs a whopping $450 to $550 billion a year for U.S. companies. 

While 90% of executives believe an employee engagement strategy is important, only 25% have a plan. Studies show that companies who invest in employee engagement experience increased productivity, improved staff retention and increased client satisfaction. Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their company, and those companies experience 2.5 times more revenues as well as two times more net income.  Why wait any longer when the pay-off can be so rewarding?

There are many ways to improve employee engagement, but when working specifically with in-house creative teams, here are a few important lessons I’ve learned along the way in partnering with my clients.

Engagement Improves Profitability
A close up of a map  Description generated with high confidenceThe cost of losing a disengaged employee and having to recruit, hire and train a new employee to replace the position costs you a third of the employee’s salary. For the creative industry, it can be expensive and time consuming to find the right person with the appropriate technical background, never mind the onboarding and training associated with the new hire. Another data point to consider is that higher productivity leads to higher profit margins. Senior leaders within my client companies have responded to bottom line data, so you may need to start calculating those figures to gain buy in.

The Brand Is King
Often you hear “content is king,” and it is; however, for employee engagement, a surprising number of studies illustrate that the employment brand is essential to driving the employee value proposition (EVP). EVP measures a company’s ability to articulate and deliver on its promises to employees. Many companies call this the stickiness factor. When possible, I recommend that HR consider partnering with its in-house agency to develop or enhance the employment brand.

Improving Employee Engagement Differs by Department and Person
Certain departments, like sales or recruiting, have an elevated level of competition that can bring out the best in people. However, in-house creative teams are a different animal. For the most part, in-house teams perform best when the individual team members work together rather than against each other. When there is a free flow of ideas, creativity and innovation, everyone wins. The team mentality we live by at TeamPeople starts with each individual. Understanding and magnifying each person’s unique strengths means that we place them in roles that enable them to regularly use those strengths. When employees can do this, they are far more productive and passionate about their projects. For some, mixing things up is key; therefore, we have also adopted rotational programs or shadowing to avoid stagnation and potentially uncap unknown strengths. 

Nonfinancial Motivators Can Be Effective
One of the biggest frustrations I’ve heard from creatives is that they are expected to keep up with emerging trends and software advances, but don’t get the appropriate training from their companies or funding to seek it elsewhere. There are many ways companies can help support their creative and technical employees through seminars, local workshops or self-paced online alternatives. We support contractors with our own training benefits as well as continuing education especially for some technical roles where key certifications are mandatory. Alongside training, getting employees involved with volunteer opportunities can also support engagement. A study by PWC discovered that 88% of millennials gravitated toward companies with prominent corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, and 86% would consider leaving if their employer’s CSR no longer met their expectations. Another important way to keep them engaged is through feedback loops. The best part of this strategy is it’s free and requires only time. Studies show that 48% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. Maintaining open lines of communication and transparency around equity and opportunities for growth in the creative department are key to maintaining a highly focused team.



HR Pulse is a bi-monthly resource published exclusively for the members of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association.

www.CTHRA.com  c c [email protected]