The ad tech and martech industries have long been fast-paced and dynamic—an attribute that has made them an exciting career choice for many adrenaline seekers.
But if you feel like we've reached Mach 10, you're not wrong. Shifts in the industry have reached a breakneck pace, creating a frenetic energy, along with a lot of uncertainty.
Much of it is reactionary: Google's flip-flopping on third-party cookies, Facebook's algorithm changes, a congressional vote that turns everything on its head... Employees are understandably concerned. All the upheaval can have an impact on employee morale.
Add to that the ominous "great resignation," the recent rash of IPOs, and an influx of VC investment, there's also tremendous temptation for employees to change jobs (or even careers) to seek better (or merely different) opportunities. And with a surfeit of vacancies to fill already, you can't afford to lose great talent.
Here are nine tips to help the martech and adtech industries keep their employees happy, engaged, and loyal even during massive changes.
1. Emphasize your core values
Employees want to know that they're working toward something meaningful, not just driving company revenue. Be clear and intentional about communicating, promoting, and implementing your core values, and do it frequently so that employees feel they're on the same team, working for a common goal that supersedes the company's success.
2. Adapt your management style
To feel valued, your people need to feel trusted and cared for. Unfortunately, that's not the case in many organizations that are still suspicious of employee productivity during remote work.
Managers must adapt their style to have more frequent check-ins with employees on performance and engagement, and to address any issues or concerns. If you're blindsided to learn that employees are unhappy when they turn in their resignation, that's on you.
Start immediately to build a culture of trust based on communication, clarity, and empathy.
3. Be flexible
One bright spot for many employees since the pandemic has been a new level of flexibility in the way they work. Although it's tempting to implement a more rigid structure or mandate that everyone come back to the office—especially heading into the crazy Q4 season—that could be the final straw that sends great employees packing.
Instead, embrace flexible, remote, or hybrid work that emphasizes performance and results over time spent at the computer. Now that 9 out of 10 employees say flexible work is an important factor in their job search, it is not the time to renege.
4. Provide mental health resources
Your team members have just been through arguably one of the most difficult periods in modern history. They're stressed and burned out, and they could be struggling with mental health issues. You must make caring for them your top priority.
At my company, we offer a whole week's worth of programming around World Mental Health Day, helping employees understand how to care for their hearts and minds, including relaxation programs, meditation, etc.
5. Bring your pets or kids to the screen
Remember "BBC Dad" who went viral after his children adorably burst into the room during a live interview? Cute as it was, it was also cringe-worthy for a lot of people. Being on camera at home was a foreign concept in 2017, and kids and pets were to be kept unheard and unseen.
But that's just part of life now. Don't worry about trying to hustle them off, pretend they're not there, or be embarrassed by interruptions.
Instead, embrace and normalize them. Schedule specific meetings to bring your pets or kids to the screen, or make it a monthly feature of a weekly recurring meeting. It takes some of the pressure off and it helps everyone feel more comfortable, connected, and less stressed.
6. Step up recognition
It's harder to make employees feel rewarded when the options of in-office celebrations and recognitions are off the table. Instead, get creative in recognizing their work, effort, and contributions.
Managers should hold regular check-ins with their team and publicly acknowledge a job well done in front of the group. Don't wait for performance reviews to provide positive or constructive feedback—make it a normal part of the daily workflow.
Also, in your bid to entice new hires, don't make the mistake of offering sign-on perks that you're not willing to offer current employees.
7. Communicate—A LOT
The transition to a hybrid workplace has caused some employees to worry about being excluded. And if they feel left out, they'll likely eventually walk out.
Avoid those feelings of isolation by communicating frequently and consistently in a way that includes everyone. Keep your team informed of company goals, activities, and events over channels everyone has access to, and even if things are changing fast and frequently, keep them up to date.
The best way to head off rumors and worries is to be transparent, even if—or perhaps most when—you don't know all the answers yet.
8. Emphasize growth opportunities
Personal and professional growth is now the No. 1 attribute said to make for great employee experience.
Employees may want to move to a new city to experience a culture outside their current one. Give them an opportunity to investigate and explore their passions.
For example, we've recently had several employees volunteer for our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiative, heading monthly discussions among colleagues on various topics that they connect with. Even though it's outside the employees' formal training, it was something they felt strongly about, and we were excited to create a forum for them to lend their voice.
9. Invest in the community
Employees today don't want to feel like just another cog in the wheel; they want to have an impact both at work and in their communities, and they want their employer to do the same.
Give them that opportunity by offering volunteer time off and lending corporate support to causes that align with your values. Don't just donate money, but actually spend time, roll up your sleeves, and lend expertise. Employees will recognize the value in a genuine effort being made by their organization.
* * *
Among all the rapid (or perhaps "rabid") change that's happening, it's no wonder HR professionals don't know which fire to put out first. Between devising programs to retain current staff and filling an unprecedented number of vacancies, it's a huge responsibility. And unlike other organizational functions where the principals remain largely unchanged, HR is responsible for keeping up with fast-evolving expectations.
Refocusing on our responsibility to the people within the organization—not human resources or human capital, but actual individual human beings—can make the difference in creating a culture and environment where employees can thrive.
More Resources on Boosting Employee Morale
10 Tips for Boosting Employee Engagement and Creating a Happy Workplace
How to Level-Up Your Company Culture [Infographic]
Overcoming Isolation to Boost Employee Engagement: 'Back to Human' Author Dan Schawbel on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
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