With more than a million millennials becoming moms every year and as a new mom myself, parental leave is a hot topic and one that has historically been a challenge in our industry. In traditional PR agencies, the cycle was known: young women join the PR workforce, work 70-hour weeks, burn out, have a baby, realize returning to that pace is not an option and opt out of PR agency work altogether either to work in-house, change careers or stay home.
Many of us at The Fletcher Group are working moms and dads. In an industry known for boom and bust cycles that struggles with an average 25 percent employee turnover rate, we’ve bucked the trend with a 97 percent employee satisfaction rate and a retention rate of more than 90 percent.
So, how do we reconcile the industry’s unsustainable burnout cycle with parenting and work-life harmony? The Fletcher Group’s founders realized the traditional system was broken and built a value-driven agency focused on retaining strong mid-level and senior-level talent by providing a more flexible and balanced work life. The benefits are twofold: good for the workforce and good for our clients.
By implementing several key strategies, we’ve built a family-friendly agency that values working parents and benefits our clients and our business.
Team mentality. I learned my first lesson in parenting – to embrace that kids will change best-laid plans and disrupt your schedule – when our baby showed up a few weeks early, on the same day as my baby shower with The Fletcher Group! Having a supportive team that jumped in, covered for me and enabled me to disconnect and enjoy precious time off with my newborn and welcomed me back warmly was invaluable. After days filled with feedings, diaper changes and struggling through naptime, coming back to intellectual, strategic conversations with adult colleagues and clients was very welcome.
Workplace flexibility. Remote work is increasingly viewed as a requirement rather than a luxury, particularly for millennials who are expected to comprise 50 percent of the workforce by 2020 and may not even consider a job if it doesn’t offer a remote work opportunity. Back to that idea that kids have their own agenda, babies can’t plan teething and runny noses around our work schedules, and they certainly have lots of doctor appointments in those first few months. The Fletcher Group’s virtual workspace model enables team members to cut down on commute time to work, be available to spend more time with their families, save money for the business and maximize time for client work. In fact, remote workers report being more productive, less distracted and taking less sick leave than when they were onsite. Having the flexibility to be available when the inevitable fever strikes or a doctor appointment pops up means maximizing time for both family life and work life.
Valuing long-term relationships (with our team and our clients). By creating a supportive, challenging, balanced career opportunity, The Fletcher Group has made working parents feel like a vital part of the team who enjoy our jobs and stick around long-term to further our careers and contribute financially to our families. Working alongside other parents means someone can always provide guidance or lend an ear about juggling the elusive balance of work and personal life. Less team turnover means we retain more senior-level talent, provide better client service and we have long-standing relationships with our clients, meaning that many have been with us for more than five years, and some for more than a decade.
While kiddos may bring surprises and scheduling snafus into our lives, the joy they bring to each day is unsurpassed. Having a family-friendly environment and instilling these values in the company culture goes a long way toward empowering team members and improving work-life harmony for working parents.