There is an often overlooked factor in combating employee turnover.

Some agency owners hold the view that an employee should be happy with compensation. They believe those who want or claim to need recognition, awards, public praise, etc, are “snowflakes” who should be replaced with more practical employees who are happy just doing what is expected of them and getting paid for it.

However, the more we learn about mental health, human motivation, and employee experience, the more we understand there is more to retaining employees than simply paying them well. 

Employees want meaningful work, certainty about the future, security in their understanding of your expectations of them, and to feel valued for their contribution to your agency.

If you can learn to harness that last part, “to feel valued for their contribution”, that is your secret weapon.

But how can you help your employees feel valued for their contribution to your agency?

 I’m glad you asked.

Here are a few ways in which you can make your employees feel valued.


Ways To Make Your Employees Feel Valued

  1. Recognition and Appreciation: Regularly acknowledge and appreciate your employees’ hard work and achievements. This can be done through verbal praise, written notes, or public recognition in team meetings, newsletters, or on your agency’s social pages.

    I’ve seen some agencies set up a peer-led kudos initiative. Some do it in Slack, others have dedicated portions of weekly meetings for it. This is fun, but it has the possible downside of seeing some employees overlooked while others get all the praise.

    The more team members one person works with, the more likely that person is to give kudos. Some people are also wired to be less grateful for the work of others, or find it harder to speak up in group settings. You may try pairing a slack channel for peer-to-peer appreciation with public recognition from leadership to make sure no one employee slips through the cracks for too long (if they’re putting in the work, of course).


  2. Opportunities for Growth: Provide opportunities for professional development and growth, such as training programs, workshops, or mentorship opportunities. It can be scary to invest a lot in an employee’s education because they may take that knowledge and go off on their own.

    However, if you show your employees that you are invested in their career advancement and allow them opportunities for growth within your own agency, you can provide them with a safe, fun, and rewarding environment in which to grow and learn.

    That’s pretty hard to leave.


  3. Empowerment and Autonomy: Trust your employees to take ownership of their work and make decisions. Empower them with autonomy and give them the freedom to innovate and experiment within their roles.

    You do need to pair this with accountability, but if you hire a specialist, trust them to do their job! Show them how your agency does things, train them on how to communicate, submit work for review if applicable, etc. Share all of your agency’s tools and resources, then let them do their thing!

    Accountability and coaching is expected and even helpful, but micromanaging is a quick path to looking for another employee.


  4. Open Communication: Foster an environment of open communication where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Actively listen to their input and involve them in decision-making processes whenever possible.

    Communication is NECESSARY in any human relationship. The more people you have working together on the same project or toward the same goal, the more you need to have communication. But not just communication, you have to have organized communication.

    Open communication doesn’t mean that everyone can talk about anything whenever they want. It means that people understand the channels through which they should go for various forms of requests, feedback, ideas, questions, etc.

    It doesn’t mean the communication is “open”, it means you’re open to communication in the right context.

    Complaints should not be frequent and public, they should be brought to leadership and discussed with sincerity and leadership should respond with a desire to understand and adapt if needed. If the employee is in the wrong, they should be gently brought around to the truth, not belittled and chided for their complaint.

    That doesn’t breed open communication, it breeds toxic employees who mutter behind your back to their coworkers.

    Conversely, if they have ideas on how to improve, they won’t bring them to you if you haven’t shown you are open to listening and will give their ideas serious consideration.


  5. Work-Life Balance: Support your employees’ well-being by promoting a healthy work-life balance. Encourage them to take breaks, use their vacation time, and prioritize self-care.

    I don’t really need to expand on this much. I know some people who never use vacation time and their employers make them leave for a week or two. Those employers are good leaders.

    I have also seen agencies that let their employees go on too many vacations, putting the rest of the agency under excessive stress. Young single employees can go on vacations with friends more often and more easily than older married employees who have kids.

    Part of work-life balance is work, though most want to focus on the life side because it is most often neglected.

    Be sure to promote a healthy balance and reign in those who may go too far either way.


  6. Fair Compensation and Benefits: Ensure that your employees are fairly compensated for their contributions and provide competitive benefits packages. Recognize their worth by offering raises, bonuses, or other incentives based on performance.

    I’ve talked about this in the past, but you do have to pay well. Many agency owners believe they can pay $15k-$20k/yr under the average and still get high quality work. They pile on as much as possible to one person and watch them collapse before finally deciding to look for another cheap employee to help.

    This isn’t ubiquitous, but it is sadly common. I’ve seen agency owners pay well above the norm for people they believed were top talent and they gave them all the team, resources, and support they could muster.

    In these cases, it almost always pays off for the agency, though you do need to have all of the other pieces we’re discussing if you want them to truly feel valued. The more valuable they are to you, the more you need to prove to them you value them.


There are plenty of other ways to make employees feel valued, but this is a solid start.

In the end, you just need to remember that you’re leading a team of people. If you think of them as people, care about them as people, and treat them like people, you’ll have a decent chance of making them feel valued and retaining them.

If you’re curious about how I work with agencies or if you’re frustrated with your agency’s profitability or retention of clients or employees, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll see how I can help. I never charge for the first consultation and if I can solve it in 30-minutes, there’s no reason to pay for my services and you walk away happy.

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