In 2005, I started my PR firm as a sole freelancer. I remember being 23 and crying outside of my 9-to-5 job because I could not stand the thought of going in there one more day. I have always said that my company will never be that for any of my employees.
We have always been a "different type of PR firm," and a different type of work experience all together. Over the years we have honed a culture of "leave work at work" after 6 p.m., because employees deserve a work-life balance. Of course, because of the nature of the industry, there can be extreme work days and PR emergencies. However, we have found that because our culture truly promotes balance, the team does not mind putting the pedal to the metal when needed.
The thing is, finding the perfect employees within the public relations industry can often be a long, drawn out and daunting task. Internally we developed a strong pre-screen process that really narrows down our applicants, but after that, the next largest challenge presented itself: How do we keep employees happy and with us long term in a market of millennial job-hopping, especially in an industry that's near the top of the list for the most stressful jobs ever?
Two of my team members were chatting with me after one had come back from Paris. She mentioned that the work-life balance internationally was much different than here within the United States. Outside of the U.S. they work to live, and here we live to work. It can be draining, and at times way too much. We burn out younger and have less person-to-person connectivity. We don't have the time to experience the world because we are very busy, particularly in key PR cities like NYC and LA, trying to afford to simply live there.
At that moment I decided I did not want that for my team — this team that works so hard for me day to day. I believe that a publicist is made better if they can apply their outside life experiences. Their creativity thrives, pitch angles expand, and they make real connections, as a publicist should. So what was I to do about it within an industry that never disconnects?
A policy change to change their lives
A few days following the conversation with my employees I decided to implement 30 days paid vacation a year for them, on top of sick days and personal days. The thrilled faces when I announced it were exceptionally rewarding. We immediately noticed a shift in employee morale and dynamic. Employees began planning trips and having discussions about how it will be amazing to spend much needed time with their family. One employee with a newborn told me that I had made it easier for her to transition back to work because of the policy, as she would get to see her baby more.
We saw the happiness quotient begin to skyrocket as the pressure of squeezing life into work schedules vanished. We also noticed that employees began working a bit harder and immediately saw an increase in what were already amazing placement results for our clients.
In all, I think that our generous vacation policy provides us with the satisfaction of knowing that there is no other PR firm within NYC that is currently offering this. So, on top of ensuring our employees have amazing clients to work on daily, why would they ever want to leave our team?
About the author: Monique Tatum is chairman and founder of Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR, a boutique PR firm headquartered in New York City. Her firm works cross industry to assist with corporate PR needs, political, experts, authors and consumer products. The firm is also well known for its strong specialty divisions in fashion, beauty and lifestyle PR.