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This week we hosted a roundtable on Managing Digital Teams, and some useful tips for recruitment, retention and internal communication came out of the discussion. 

I wanted to share those tips here as I know these are big issues for marketers.

Recruitment:

1. Offer incentives to employees to refer friends to your firm

One attendee recently worked at Google and said that employees there are offered between £4,000 and £5,000 for each new employee referred to recruitment.

This helps create buzz for a company as employees encourage friends to join them at work and encourages sharing of roles through social channels.

One participant at the roundtable said that it encourages employees to "drink the Kool-Aid". If your employees are trying to recruit friends, they are in essence convincing themselves of the value of working at your organisation.

And, wouldn't you rather give the money you are currently paying in fees to recruiters to people on your team? 

2 Offer temp contracts and encourage star performers to apply for permanent roles. 

Another attendee said that he has recently had some success hiring temporary employees. After he evaluates performance, he encourages the star performers to apply for permanent roles.

There are risks with this strategy - it may appeal to 'promiscuous' employees who are more likely to change jobs frequently.

However, the attendee who had experimented with this had success recruiting a fairly senior candidate. 

3. Poach

There was agreement at the table that sometimes the best approach is simply to contact the person you want directly.

The sense was that recruitment agencies contact people directly on LinkedIn and sometimes it is worthwhile to use the same tactics without the hefty fees. 

Retention

1. Job swap

An attendee at the roundtable shared a strategy her firm has used for retention - job swapping. In digital, in order to really understand a channel, you need to do it. It's even difficult to manage someone if you haven't done it yourself.

So to help employees grow and broaden their skills, she is experimenting with job swapping on her team. This allows the social manager and the email manager and the PPC manager to get a real understanding of what is being done in other channels - and how it's done.

This reduces boredom and grows skills on her team. It has also helped with internal communication as there is a better understanding across the team of what each other are actually doing. 

2. Access to senior managers and leadership

Another key to retention mentioned by several attendees was giving employees access to senior managers.

This can be done through mentorship but recognition and exposure in meetings is also important. There was much agreement that compensation is not the most important factor in retention.

Recognition and new challenges are arguably more important. In fact, a recent survey by LinkedIn found just that - compensation figured third in the list of reasons employees quit their employers.

Advancement opportunities and leadership were the top two factors. 

LinkedIn Exit Survey

3. Diversity

Depending on the size of your business this can be tricky but trying to give employees the opportunity to move and grow within the organisation is important.

This diversity in roles and teams can be really important to retaining talent beyond two or three years. Looking for internal transfers or promotions can help reduce employee churn. 

Internal communication

Another key challenge that was raised by attendees was communication, in particular internal communications.

We are increasingly looking for marketers to have deep vertical knowledge, to have data analysis skills, to be technologically savvy. But we also need people who are storytellers, can manage stakeholder relationships and who are creative.

It's a tricky balance and the few people who meet these criteria are very hot commodities. Here were some tips to address this challenge. 

1. Pair up employees

An approach taken by one attendee was to pair up members of her team - put a good communicator together with someone with really strong vertical knowledge.

As a team, they will be able to deliver the result and communicate it across the business. 

2. Mentorship/shadowing

Set up a mentorship programme to help develop communication skills. It was universally agreed that teaching communication skills is near impossible.

The most effective way to teach it was thought to be through mentorship. 

3. Face to face

Make sure teams are meeting face to face (or screen to screen on skype) regularly. Nothing replaces face to face communication to understand what is going on within the team and across the business.  

You may also be interested in our recent Skills of the Modern Marketer report that defines the skills that senior marketers are looking for on their teams. 

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Published 5 June, 2014 by Heather Hopkins @ Econsultancy

Heather Hopkins is Senior Analyst on the research team at Econsultancy. You can follow Heather on Twitter.

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