4 opportunities to reduce the churn of product team members

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


As competition for product people heats up, from both inside and outside the industry, salaries are increasing and good product people can afford to be picky. In this competitive marketplace, how can you find and keep good product managers?

In the United States, we are seeing that workers across the board are leaving jobs in droves, which has been put down to people evaluating life choices after the uncertainty of COVID amidst demand for labour picking up in a strong economy. Within product, I consistently hear that there is a high churn rate yet general satisfaction isn’t down. It’s mostly down to salaries. There are stories of tech companies doubling salaries. That’s hard to argue with and compete against. 

While tech companies may offer salaries media companies can't compete with, news organisations have much to offer their employees to keep them.
While tech companies may offer salaries media companies can't compete with, news organisations have much to offer their employees to keep them.

Some may be able to expand budgets, but we may not be able to compete with the salaries at this level. So what are the non-tangible ways in which we can compete?

  1. Mission: The value of joining a journalistic/mission-driven organisation should not be underestimated. This can tap into people’s desires to do something meaningful with their career. As one product leader told a prospect who was also interviewing at a food delivery company: You can either help people get their pizza delivered two minutes faster, or you can contribute to the future of democracy. 

  2. Flexibility: As some places are starting to get back to normal after COVID, what flexibility are you able to offer? Do you need people to be in an office, or even online, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.? Or are there ways in which you can offer more flexibility to fit into their lives? Perhaps you can focus on outcomes rather than specific hours. 

  3. Work environment: Create an engaged environment where people feel valued, secure, supported, and respected, i.e. a place they want to be. Slack has 6 simple ways to foster a positive work environment

  4. Personal growth: Consider what the employee or candidate wants to achieve in this role. You may be able to offer them exposure to areas of interest, or time to work on projects that they are passionate about, or help them get exposure to the rest of the business or industry. 

Gaurav Sachdeva, chief product officer at Singapore Press Holdings, recognises that he can’t always compete on salaries and that it’s natural that people won’t want to stay in the same role forever. However, he doesn’t see this as a bad thing. He aims to create an excellent workplace and help people develop their careers. By doing this, he is creating evangelists that will go out and tell others how great it is to work there. This is an example we can all follow.  

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About Jodie Hopperton

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