Event management businesses—or even event management roles within a wider organization—are often subject to a lot of turnover.
This can be due to:
- High-stress working environments
- Unsociable working hours
- Part-time, seasonal or entry-level staff
- Difficulties coordinating with other staff or teams
So, how can you reduce these difficulties and improve employee retention in your event management business?
Many common retention practices, like continuous performance feedback, training and development, may not necessarily apply if you’re hiring temporary or seasonal staff. Plus, the pressures and requirements of events management are quite different from office-based roles.
Here are six employee retention strategies that are specifically tailored for event management businesses and roles.
1. Improve Your Recruitment Processes
If you need to recruit a large number of staff, or if you’re recruiting in a rush, then it’s easy to end up hurrying through the recruitment process.
To improve retention, you need to start with hiring. Either spend time on interviewing candidates so you can be sure that they’ll be a good fit (and enjoy the fast-paced environment of event management) or use an agency that can provide you with candidates who they’ve already carefully vetted.
2. Pay a Higher Rate and/or Offer Benefits
If you want staff to stick around, then you need to compensate them well: better than competing companies. This ideally means paying more per hour, but you could also look at adding benefits. This can obviously include standard benefits such as health insurance, but you could also think about perks or other offerings like free fitness classes.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should always make sure you pay on-time and in-full. It’s best practice to use a payroll checklist to make sure you stay on top of everything related to payroll.
3. Ensure Volunteers and Casual Staff Are Included
One big issue with events management is that you may have a large number of volunteers or casual staff who are only needed at the most pressured times (e.g. during the live event itself).
This can create issues for these individuals, who may feel stressed and inadequately prepared, but it’s also difficult for full-time members of your team, who may feel that they can’t fully trust the more casual workers.
It’s important to make casual staff and volunteers feel included. Try to introduce them to key members of the team in advance. Make sure they know what to expect on the day, what their duties will be, and who they should go to (or who they should contact and how, e.g. by text) if they have problems.
Kathryn Dinsmore from Flock Events explained: “I started off my career in a volunteer role, and I know how tough the unpaid work can be when you don’t feel appreciated. Making volunteers feel engaged and excited to learn new skills is a fantastic way of keeping them around, and motivating them to go the extra mile for you.”
4. Brief Your Team Fully before the Event
If staff feel unprepared, they’re likely to feel stressed. You might think that there’s no problem, so long as everything goes smoothly during the event, but staff members may think differently! High stress levels can be a huge cause of turnover, so make sure you do what you can to help staff feel confident about the event.
Before the day of the event, have a conference call with everyone or send out a document to give details of everything they need to know. As Becki Cross, managing director of the UK company Events Northern Ltd, explains: “This will include practical and logistical information such as what to wear, directions and public transport information, who to ring in case of problems, which entrance to use and who to report to. We also outline their anticipated tasks with a chronological timeline of the day and their responsibilities. Finally, I include a paragraph about our company ethos and brand and what we expect from our staff
5. Seek and Respond to Staff Feedback
You almost certainly ask your attendees for their feedback, but do you ask your events management staff how they thought things went? It’s easy to assume that if people have suggestions or even complaints, they’ll come to you, but some staff won’t speak up without being invited to do so.
Be proactive about seeking feedback. You might want to ask direct questions, like “Is there anything we could do to make things easier for you?” or “What do you like most and what do you like least about your job?”
This feedback may well surprise you. Perhaps you think that staff members don’t like the long hours during live events, but actually they don’t mind at all. Instead, maybe they dislike sudden changes to plans or not having a chance to get to know their colleagues.
6. Give Staff Plenty of Recognition and Praise
We all like to be thanked for a job well done and your staff are definitely no exception. If they feel taken for granted, that may cause them to leave for a new position elsewhere. (If they feel that they only get criticism about things that go wrong, instead of praise about things that go well, then they’re very likely to leave.)
Make sure you recognize the efforts your staff go to, before, during and after events. As well as a verbal “thanks.” Small gestures like a handwritten card or a box of chocolates can make a big difference.
These retention strategies should make it easier to keep great staff members. By making sure they’re happy and by treating them well, you’ll have a fantastic team that stays around for many events to come.
Rupert Jones is a financial independence geek who strongly believes in the power of networking. He spends his time helping people leverage secrets of financial wealth and process to achieve financial freedom.