Support your staff and they'll support you

Support your staff and they'll support you

Struggling with staff turnover? The answer could lie in your office culture – the one you help create and shape.

They say people leave bosses not jobs, and of course this isn’t a blanket case for staff turnover, but it definitely carries enough weight to stop and consider as a leader of any sized team.

In my 11 years of running Elevate, I, like many other founders, have found myself farewelling staff so they can pursue their dreams to travel, work in-house or move away, but early in my start-up days, I also learned the hard way that staff can leave because the culture didn’t motivate them, didn’t inspire them or didn’t challenge them.

Common mistakes managers make that make staff leave (I admit, I made a few of these)

Micromanaging – remember why you employed your staff in the first place? You needed HELP! Training and feedback in the early days is important, but then you have to hand over the reigns and let them help you. Staff deserve to feel like they are important, helpful and can work autonomously.

Too much leeway – Opposite to micromanaging, some leaders don’t provide any feedback or training to staff simply because micromanaging is so heavily criticised so they swing the opposite direction. Staff like guidance and direction, and even appreciate feedback!

Leave your personal problems at home mentality – there’s a school of thought (somewhat archaic in my opinion) that suggests work is work, and home is home. People should be expected to put their game face on at work. But the reality is, a person is a person whether they are at home or work – their emotions and mental state follow them everywhere. There’s certainly a time and place for everything, but asking how a staff member is, giving them a forum to express themselves and then finding solutions so the workplace and clients aren’t impacted is all it takes to address this.

Try to create a space that’s void of challenges – This is one I struggled with in my first year or two of being an employer. It’s not that I didn’t trust my staff to do a good job, I actually wanted to protect them from being exposed to any sort of crisis, client concern or the pressure of running a multi-client agency. But most staff want to be challenged and thrive the experience of real life – warts and all.

Poor culture fit – It’s one thing to hire based on skillset, but if your new recruit would clearly clash with your current team, is it worth it? Skills can be taught, personalities are inherent. Hire for the personality, experience and desire, and technical skills can come later. Don’t hire one person perfect on paper only to have your current team members decide later to leave because of a clash.

How to build a culture that inspires, motivates and challenges staff

Everyone will do it differently, but if you’re looking for inspiration, here’s how we work at Elevate, and what has helped us win Small Agency of the Year two consecutive years at the Public Relations Institute of Australia awards.

The key is in culture, flexibility and balance

When staff feel valued as an individual, they perform stronger as a team.

Employees consider culture, flexibility and work life balance as some of the top reasons they enjoy their work and we’re proud to deliver this environment at Elevate. We provide stand up desks, casual Fridays, the systems and technology to work from home, regular staff awards and we’re soon launching a paid volunteer day to allow staff to give back to the community in a charity they’re passionate about.

We also offer quarterly off-site workshops and team bonding experiences where I am completely transparent about the business financials and projections, and staff have an opportunity to openly or anonymously make suggestions for improvement in any aspect of the business.

Of course, saying all this requires the technology, procedures and investment to back it up, so we have moved all our documents onto a cloud-based program which allows staff to access them outside of the office. This reduces the need to physically be in the office at all times, which gives our staff more flexibility over their workload.

Any employer can start creating a positive culture shift today. Start with asking your team what it is they would like and go from there. Invest in them. They invest their time and career potential with you. 


About the Author - Mel Deacon

Mel is the founder and CEO of Elevate Communication. She started the company in 2007 and has built it into one of the most successful, independent communication agencies in Australia.

In a career spanning more than 20 years, Mel has worked...

Other Posts by Mel Deacon

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