A good culture can overcome most obstacles creative agencies face

December 13, 2023

Many creative agencies have a high staff turnover. This is a problem in itself, but can also exacerbate other issues your agency may be facing, such as decreased profitability due to increased hiring expenses.

So, it’s important for any agency that wants to be profitable in the long term to ensure they’re doing what they can to reduce staff turnover and ensure their teams are happy at work. In today’s blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at how a good culture is key for this. A positive culture can not only improve your staff turnover, but also help you to overcome other problems, leading to a more well-rounded agency that’s admired by clients and peers alike.

The problem in creative agencies

It’s no secret that working in a creative agency can be pretty tough going. It’s full on work, often juggling several projects on top of demanding clients! This alone can affect your staff turnover if you’re not addressing the issue.

Then, take a stressful job and add chaos in your operations department. For example, you don’t have the right processes or communication in place for resource management, leading to projects easily going over budget and teams not knowing what others are working on. In these cases, you’ll probably find that the creatives (who should be focusing on the creative work) are having to take on some of the additional stress, which isn’t going to do anyone any good.

The truth is that, if your agency has unnecessarily stressful ways of working, your people aren’t going to stick around unless there’s a bigger motivator for them to stay. This can, of course, be very costly for any agency. The hiring process itself is expensive, then you’ll also be putting money into training people who leave you after a few months, only to repeat the process again and again. It’s not what any agency owner or leader wants for their business.

What does a good company culture look like for creative agencies?

Every agency is different and, like many things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, in my experience there are some core things that make for a good culture. Here’s a few examples:

Open communication
Open and honest communication should be modelled from the top down. Everyone should be encouraged to speak their mind and be unafraid to make suggestions. Communication means listening, too - your team members should feel that managers and leaders truly take on board their feedback and value their input.

Regular, honest feedback
When you think of company culture, you probably automatically think of things such as social events and state-of-the-art offices. But, it’s important to get the basics sorted first. This means ensuring that your employees know that their performance will be regularly reviewed, with goals that they can work towards. This shows that the business truly values them and their work which is what culture should be all about at its core.

Simply, everyone should be made to feel welcome and included, no matter their background, skills, or amount of time they’ve spent with the company. This is perhaps even more important if you have remote or hybrid teams: you must make an effort to ensure that those who are working remotely also feel like a valued part of the culture.

What’s the solution for agencies that have a poor culture?

So, how can agencies begin to overcome this problem? It’s true that working in a creative agency is probably always going to come with a certain amount of stress. After all, you’re working to the demands of clients and deadlines. It’s not for everyone, but it’s important to make sure that your agency is the sort of place that those who do suit agency life actively want to work with.

I believe that a great culture is one of the key secrets to achieving this. Putting the time, effort, and resources into developing your culture is going to benefit your agency in so many ways. The two main areas are:

Plain and simple staff retention
If your culture is fun, friendly, and inclusive, people are far more likely to want to stick with you even if the job isn’t exactly stress-free. It’s an unfortunate fact that so many jobs out there have the two-fold issue of impossible workloads and a poor culture. By ensuring that your business doesn’t fall into that category, you’re automatically going to become a more favourable place to work. A good culture makes work a more enjoyable place to be. It can even aid in communication, helping to improve life at work in general. And, as I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, improving your staff retention can cut your costs and help your agency to become more profitable in the long term.

Operational issues and loyalty
A positive culture inspires loyalty in your teams. Start with the culture, even if you’re facing other issues, and people are far more likely to want to stick around and help you to iron out further operational issues. If your operations are chaotic, but it’s a fun and supportive place to work on the whole, there’s far more incentive to stay and be a part of the solution, improving the working environment in the long term.

When faced with a choice between an organisation that has all its processes in order but a sterile culture, and one with a great culture but processes that need refining, you’ll find that many creatives will choose the latter. However, this is rarely a choice anyone has the opportunity to make. In my experience, I often find that agencies who have trouble with their processes can be split into two camps: those who have a great culture, but need to fix some issues, and those who lack a good culture and have those same issues (but often worse). So, you may as well be the agency with the great culture!

All this to say, your culture is one of the most important things about your business. This is especially true if you’re wanting to grow, as inspiring loyalty in your teams will incentivise them to help the agency meet its goals.

If you take the time to truly listen to your employees, show you genuinely care about them, foster clear communication, and encourage great teamwork (to name just a few elements of company culture), your people are far more likely to want to band together and stay at the agency to help it improve. They’ll know it has its problems, of course, but find the culture enough to want them to take on the challenge.

So, when was the last time you assessed your agency’s culture and how you could use it to improve your processes, profitability, and more? If you’re looking for someone to help point you in the right direction, I’m here to help. Click here to find out more about how I can help creative agencies of all sizes with their operational problems.

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A good culture can overcome most obstacles creative agencies face

A good company culture can take your agency a long way, from improving staff retention to creating better processes - all of which can improve your profitability. Find out more here.

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