You only have to ask around in your organisation to establish the small things that upset employees. The bad coffee they can live with. But if it comes to issues such as emotional support, career opportunities, and the magical work/life balance, it might add up to the point where they would rather work somewhere else.

Here are three practical things you can to do enhance the working environment and retain the talent in your media organisation.

  1. Draw the lines.

    Identify your role and accept responsibility for it. You are not a barman with unlimited time to listen, qualified social worker equipped to intervene in a difficult family situation, or trained psychiatrist that can assist with emotional problems.

    What you want to be is an empathetic leader, willing to assist where you can. If an employee is experiencing a personal problem or going through a tough time, be human about it.

    Acknowledge the impact of a traumatic experience like death in the family, a divorce, or a serious sickness. Put measures in place to create a safety net for people in these circumstances. Allow people the space to grieve for a loss, and be aware that it might impact their work. Offer time off and support in the form of extra help at work if possible.

    If, in the long term, it negatively affects work performance, refer the issue to the employee assistance programme (EAP). And if you don’t have an EAP, invest in it.

    According to an article published by Business Insurance, one of the biggest problems with regard to EAPs is that “employers generally don’t do a very good job communicating with their employees about the programme.”

    Sometimes people know about the EAP, but they are not sure how to use it or they question the privacy of the service. Make sure your team members know about the benefits of your EAP and how to use it. Assure people that it is not a weakness if they make use of this programme, but an opportunity to get professional help.

  2. Communicate!

    George Bernard Shaw said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

    Do you have an internal communications strategy? And how do you get your message to reach different groups of people in your organisation?

    If you can communicate the goals, values, and strategy of your news organisation in a clear and consistent way, it will create a safe environment where people know where they fit in and what is expected of them.

    To learn more about internal communications, have a look at this presentation by Ving on the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to internal communications.

    Mistake No. 6 is especially important to avoid: “Not repeating your message.” Yes, it may feel as if you are saying the same thing over and over, but it is extremely important to communicate and explain your vision, strategy, and values at every possible opportunity.

  3. Ask for feedback, and act upon it.

    Don’t just talk to your team and focus on your message. Ask for feedback. Create opportunities for measurements and ways that will enable your team to provide feedback.

    What frustrates them? What do they expect of the company? What do they expect of you as a leader? What can the company do to improve their work conditions?

    But don’t stop there. If you do not act upon the feedback you received, you will lose all credibility. Acknowledge the information you get from your team and communicate (again) if you implemented anything that was suggested. This will encourage participation in future feedback sessions.

What if you do all this and your best sales person still decides to leave? Accept the fact that people must take responsibility to manage their own careers. You can’t do it for them. Make sure you part ways in a professional way and keep in contact afterward to maintain a professional working relationship.

Ask the human resources department to conduct exit interviews to establish why people are leaving the company, keeping in mind sometimes “people quit their boss, not their job,” according to this article by BusinessPATHS.

See if there is any helpful information coming from the exit interview that will help you to retain talented people – at the end of the day your most valuable resource.