Why staff churn can be a good thing

Agency life, PR — By on May 7, 2006 9:42 am

Staff churn at an agency has a bad reputation. Prospects often ask about a firm’s churn rate when making their selection. Rightly so, since they don’t want to re-educate their team – consistency is important.

But not all staff churn is bad. You don’t want zero churn. Here’s why:

The selection process is never perfect – candidates often present an overly-flattering image of themselves in an interview. The selection process is designed to get behind that, but it’s not bulletproof. Sometimes new staff don’t work out and it’s best for both the new employee and the agency to recognize there isn’t a good fit early on. Hence churn – but for the right reason, no deal is better than lose-lose.

High achievers want to work with other top performers – the best staff don’t want to carry passengers. If the agency caters to the backmarkers, the best staff will look elsewhere. Agencies vary in culture, approach and style – people who thrive in one may struggle in an other. A good agency will constantly nurture its best talent, and sadly that means recognizing not everyone makes the grade. Hence churn – but for the benefit of clients and staff (even those who move on).

It provides a path for rapid progression – when managers move on their line reports often step up to fill the void. In a growing agency, these opportunities come from the establishment of new teams. But in a slower firm or harsher business conditions, opportunities for progression only come when there’s a gap in the structure. Churn again – but providing a pathway for new talent to shine.

Of course there is a level of churn which negatively impacts both clients and current staff. But the objective isn’t to have zero churn – it’s to have managed, low-level, constructive churn.

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  • http://strivepr.com/wordpress/# Sherrilynne Starkie

    You forgot about conflict resolution. People that are drawn to the PR profession tend not to be shrinking violets. Get enough strong personalities in one room and the sparks will fly. Too much of this brings down the morale of the whole team. If someone is having a personality conflict in the office, it’s nicer for everyone if they just move on.

  • http://www.morganmclintic.com Morgan McLintic

    You’re right Sherrilynne. Personality conflicts within an agency can burn management cycles and undermine morale.
    It’s actually quite a challenge to recruit people with tangible personalities, who are not prima donnas, with a variety of worldviews but consistent values. Creative tension is one thing, outright conflict, quite another.

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  • http://insidemr.blogspot.com Gregory Kohs

    Since you’re talking about churn, here’s an article that compiled 67 different churn rates in various industries:
    http://insidemr.blogspot.com/2006/06/comparison-of-churn-rates.html
    Hope you enjoy!