4 Steps to Stop Losing Agency Employees to the Competition

By Jason Swenk on October 23, 2022

Do you have issues with employee retention? Are you wondering what you can do to make your agency a more attractive place to work so you stop losing employees to the competition? Today’s guest has made retention a huge focus in the development of his agency. So much so that he’s only lost two employees to the competition in the past three years. He now shares how he realized it’s all about focusing on the right things. He’s sharing some of the most important areas you should be working to improve employee retention.

Rob Gaedtke is the president and CEO of KPS3, a digital agency that builds brands and creates technology that moves people to action. They are now about 64 full-time employees with roughly $9 million in revenue and continually work on ways to take care of their most valuable resource, their employees. In this conversation, Rob shares some of the important questions you should be asking to reduce yourself in order to employee turnover.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • 4 steps to help you stop losing employees.
  • Keeping track of employee progress and being open to change.
  • How to empower employees and encourage their growth.


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Verblio: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by Verblio. Check out Verblio.com/smartagency and get 50% off your first month of content creation. Our team loves using Verblio because of the ease in their process and their large pool of crowd-sourced writers.

Learning to Value Your Most Valuable Asset

As an agency, your employees are your most valuable resource. After all, we are in the service industry and people are our bread and butter. So much so that keeping that talent could be even more important than keeping clients. If you manage to keep the right employees, they’ll keep the clients. Likewise, if your employees are happy, your clients will also be happy.

Rob and his team have been focusing on this as the agency grows. What they found is that if you’re focusing on the right things you have a better chance of retaining your staff.

For instance, are you losing employees to other agencies or to different passions? Are you filling the ranks with your own team or are you having to look outside the agency? These are important questions that could lead to why you keep losing talent.

4 Steps to Help You Stop Losing Employees to Other Agencies

Making big statements like “employees are our most valuable asset” sound like an empty platitude unless you’re making the right moves to show this appreciation.

At Rob’s agency, they took these 4 steps to stop losing employees:

  1. Be in it for the right reason. Your goal really has to be the development of the employee as a person, even if it comes to losing them.
  2. Have financial transparency. Everybody can see the agency’s full financial statement. They know how what it costs to run the agency and how much profit goes back to the owners and employees.
  3. Have an open door policy. There’s this idea that it’s bad when someone leaves you to go do something. Rob believes we need to break that connotation. When an employee leaves, they’re not doing it to hurt you. They’re doing it because it’s what’s best for them. It’s easy to take it personally, but if you step back it opens the door to part on good terms and to have them even returning at some point if it makes sense.
  4. Encourage personal growth. A lot of employees may leave a job because they want a promotion. But growth opportunities should be available for them within your agency. Rob also believes if somebody wants to grow in an area where your agency doesn’t have business in, you could give them the opportunity to develop those skills. Even if it’s half-price or at a loss. If you put it in the education bucket, it’s benefitting an employee. The same goes for a different industry that the agency doesn’t normally work in.Online Training for Digital Agencies

Keeping Track of Employee Progress and Being Open to Change

Rob’s agency has strategic growth initiatives to get employees off on the right foot. They have mandatory reviews that occur after someone’s first 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. After that, the review meetings happen at the six-month mark and eventually become annual. The idea is to get a fruitful discussion going beginning the first month and then get more in-depth as time passes and more goals are met.

On top of that, everybody is encouraged to have weekly one-on-one discussions. A lot of the discussions are focused on what each employee needs and what the agency can do to support their goals.

Also, the agency is open-minded to employees changing departments if they are not enjoying the work. A department change is very important and something you can only ever address if your manager is tracking your progress.

Encouraging and Empowering Agency Leaders

When an agency is growing, you have to make sure the leaders grow with it. Every worker needs to feel challenged, respected and empowered. You can have a fun agency where everyone is having a great time — but smart people also want to be pushed and challenged. If you’re micromanaging and they don’t feel empowered, you’ll lose them.

At Rob’s agency, they give people the opportunity to grow and manage people. If someone expresses an interest in growing support that by including them in their management and leadership training. Rob also encourages people to talk about their goals and where they want to be.

You need to promote it on one side and on the other make sure it’s actually available and allow people the opportunity to grow.

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