If you’re interested in building a team of the best of the creative best, you have to acknowledge one important bit:
The best of the best are already doing a lot of cool stuff.
If you want them on your team — and, more importantly, you want to keep them on your team — you need to make allowances for the fact that they’re probably going to keep doing a lot and it’s not going to be only your stuff. The creative employees you’re seeking may enjoy a rousing game of foosball here and there (although, when was the last time you played), and they might appreciate a beer after five. But if you really want to attract their attention, consider offering a few less tangible perks.
Room for side projects
Give them space in the day for noncompetitive work outside your company. Your company will be instantly more attractive to rockstars when they know they don’t have to say goodbye to pet projects. Do they have a monthly meeting in the middle of the business day with collaborators outside the company? Let them know you’ll make room for that. Remember you said that when that disruption comes around.
Remote working opportunities
Who hasn’t heard the sentiment that sometimes you just need a change of scenery? And who doesn’t want to spend some quality time experiencing a new city? If you rely on face-to-face collaboration, it could be tough to encourage remote working. The traditional American work style doesn’t really allow for it, after all. And managing a remote staff brings its own challenges.
But if your office can handle it, consider letting employees know they can work remotely for a couple weeks to a month or so. Exposing employees to new places means they’ll see new designs in the wild, and they’ll get a taste for how another part of the world makes design work. And then they’ll bring it all back to your place.
Time that’s truly off work
Differentiate between remote working and time that’s truly meant for vacation. With more and more work being done online and with access everywhere, you know it’s difficult to take a break, especially for self-motivated pros immersed in exciting work. If you want to make sure your employees really take time off work, that means you have to be disciplined too. Don’t send emails for them to read “later” or whenever they have time. As a professional collective whole, we’re getting really bad at recognizing nonemergencies. Help your staff out and refrain from sending those emails and group chats just because you’re thinking of it.
This works with a certain kind of employee and is completely unfeasible for others. But we’re looking for self-motivated creatives, remember? These are people who generally do not walk away while there’s work to be done (and we’re not talking about the ones who procrastinate all week and then work for 48 hours straight. That’s a different kind of laziness). Passionate, self-motivated people are by and large not going to go AWOL for two weeks every other month. Stop counting days and instead look to specific deliverables to see how you’re getting your money’s worth as a business owner.
Butts in chairs from 8 to 5 are a default sign of productivity, but what’s actually getting done? Better to devise a system of productivity checks based on specific deliverables and then provide a flexible schedule. It’s a win-win: Your staff gets to manage side projects (not to mention life stuff, like the electrician’s weird hours) guilt-free, and you get a checklist of specific goals, recurring or otherwise, that your staff plans to produce within a given time. Are your employees being productive? Well, what have they delivered on lately?
An equipment budget
At its most basic, a budget is simply a way to prioritize expenses. One of your company’s priorities should be equipment that enhances your staff’s creativity. It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest or the biggest and best. But you do need to have a plan in place that allows for regular assessment of your creative staff’s equipment (laptops, cameras, lights, software) and their ongoing education. We’re not saying you have to foot the bill for a master’s program — just try to make room for a conference or lecture series here and there that would augment their skillset.
Easy, organized benefit tracking
With the exception of specific deliverables and a budget, these are all pretty intangible/difficult-to-track job perks. That means they can be tricky for new employees to take advantage of. Who do they tell when they’re planning on taking time off? How far in advance? And who hasn’t worked at a company where something was “totally fine! Absolutely okay!” but unwritten company habits say otherwise?
If you really want to implement some of these into your office lifestyle, you’ll have to start thinking outside the box about how best to track them. Will it be a Google calendar with everyone’s vacation time filled in and visible to all? A Trello board of tasks and goals per employee? Daily Skype meetings with remote workers?
Once you figure out which creative perks really matter to your staff and everyone knows how to take advantage of them, make it a point to showcase these perks in your recruiting strategy. You’ll attract an experienced, creative pro who can dispense with the handholding. They’ll see that work flexibility for the valuable benefit that a beer fridge can never be.