The employees have spoken. In our second annual review of the best small, midsize and large agencies to work at, staffers tell us why their workplaces rock.
Small Agency Winners
While many companies promote a work-life balance, Arteric takes the concept a step further by offering a $1,500 “disconnect bonus” to employees who abstain from emailing or working while on vacation. Arteric employees who took our Best Places to Work survey were unanimous in their appreciation for this “unheard of” practice, which has given them the opportunity to unplug and return to work ready to tackle new challenges. The consensus of our judges was that this benefit was something every agency should implement.
Employees also pointed to Arteric’s hefty investment in digital as a positive. The company’s stated aim has been to provide employees with access to new technologies and the opportunity to acquire new skills in the workplace. One Arteric staffer wrote: “I’ve learned more about digital in my two years working here than I have my entire career.” Employees’ “insatiable hunger for learning” is aided with compensation for advancement courses and several employees noted that ongoing education as well as new ideas are encouraged.
This ability to “straddle the line between analytics excellence and more traditional creative know-how,” ticked another box. One judge said that “working at Arteric seems almost like working in a laboratory, because every day its people have the chance to fill a range of roles.”
Brick City Greenhouse
When assessing this “100% virtual” agency, a factor our judges found most notable was the high level of collaboration among employees, with several commenting that even though they’re based in different cities, they feel “completely in the know” regarding all companywide developments. Employees commented that Brick City’s leadership is open, honest and timely when communicating any news (good or bad), ensuring widespread support.
As one staffer noted, “remote working does not equal disconnect at Brick City.” This seems to be due in part to the efforts made by leadership to encourage camaraderie through seasonal gatherings, daily video meetings, video check-ins and a shared workspace account for live meetings. “We’re accountable for contributing to and creating the culture,” said one employee, “so we want the best from and for each other in order to foster a positive atmosphere.”
Respect for a healthy work-life balance seems to be a management approach admired by all Brick City’s employees, and it earned the company a perfect score in the work-life balance category. Many credited the company’s virtual model, flex time and unlimited PTO policies for allowing them to feel “completely present” in both their personal and professional lives.
Stability is a hallmark of this Philly-area agency, which garnered one of the lowest employee turnover rates among those surveyed. “I don’t even look at recruiter emails anymore because I have no interest,” one staffer shared.
Elevate’s model and size ensures consistent access to senior-level execs, with employees noting they receive a clear development plan from their supervisor and attend biweekly check-ins to help achieve their goals and evaluate their performance. “Everyone’s career is a priority here,” one staffer said. Another noted that the company funds training and professional development classes for interested employees. “They are always looking for ways to advance their employees, whether it’s access to workshops, online resources or conferences. I am given opportunities here I was never afforded at other agencies.”
Judges also admired the agency’s flexible work environment — employees receive unlimited PTO, have the option to work from home and are actively encouraged to leave at a reasonable hour each day to spend time with family and friends.
A high performer in the employee development area, Ignition DG staffers rank their agency’s culture of open communication as particularly notable, with one employee noting that management “works incredibly hard to keep communication frequent and consistent throughout all levels,” and another stating that “frequent one-on-one meetings with supervisors help to keep everyone on track and completely aware of where they stand for a raise or promotion.”
Mutual respect and generosity were also cited as characteristics of the agency, with staffers noting they make a point to “watch each other’s backs and never point fingers or throw anyone under the bus.” This commitment, along with frequent laughter and a shared responsibility for innovation and growth, has led to an “extremely tight-knit staff who truly want to see each other succeed.”
Some additional perks employees noted were team outings and celebrations, work from home allowances, summer hours, comp days for travel and time off between Christmas and New Year’s to give employees more time with family. “Ignition works hard to cultivate a positive, fun and welcoming attitude,” said one staffer. “There is amazing camaraderie here,” noted another, “which makes people truly enjoy coming to work.”
Midsize Agency Winners
A camaraderie and “amazing” spirit characterize Biolumina, which earned high grades for staff morale and was cited by employees as “a great place to learn, grow and stay curious.”
Staffers praised management for taking the time to mentor, with sessions held frequently to provide career guidance in a private environment. Also noted was employees’ appreciation for managers enforcing a cutoff time during launches to prevent burnout, and providing a Seamless corporate account as well as Blue Bottle coffee for the occasional late night. It doesn’t hurt to have chief happiness officer Rufus strolling around the office either.
The company also earned high marks from staff for celebrating wins with spot bonuses and fostering an inclusive setting with a seating arrangement created specifically to cultivate better relationships between accounts and creatives.
Offering a wide range of personal development courses, from personal presence to leadership skills throughout the year, the agency also offers a “Summer of Curiosity” program in which employees can attend weekly presentations given by outside companies such as Google and Twitter.
It was evident to each of our judges that employees truly believe in the work that they’re doing with many of the latter noting they’ve had the opportunity to do work for pro bono groups and causes they are passionate about, and others sharing that the work they’re doing in the oncology space gives them “a higher purpose each day.”
Concentric Health Experience
Winning high marks for its entrepreneurial culture, including a fast-track program for junior executives and a summer apprenticeship that can lead to full-time employment for interns, Concentric Health Experience is an agency “fully invested in the development of its employees,” our judges said, thanks to company funded trainings and educational programs that have helped staffers “excel in a clear trajectory career path,” as one categorized these efforts.
“This is a lift yourself up by your bootstraps kind of place,” said one staffer. “It’s a place that thoroughly encourages self-driven curiosity.” With an office layout rated “highly collaborative,” the company works hard to encourage “an entrepreneurial spirit,” with one staffer saying, “Any time I’ve brought an idea to leadership with a thoughtful rationale, I’ve gotten the green light.”
Staffers can also take advantage of the company’s onsite gym, Naam yoga classes, walking/biking desks and summer kickball league.
Concentric’s “family first” mentality was praised by numerous employees who noted that the company provides subsidized child care at a new state-of-the-art facility, as well as backup daycare for all employees, through its partnership with Vivvi Day Care.
Health and Wellness Partners
Judges were impressed by this agency’s commitment to “walking the walk,” when it comes to ensuring that its employees’ health and wellness are a top priority. “They truly seem to value the growth and development of their employees,” one judge stated. In addition to perks such as weekly in-office massages, personal training sessions, yoga and meditation classes and an onsite gym, Health and Wellness Partners also offers its employees full medical benefits with zero employee contribution and no waiting period — something many staffers noted they had never seen before.
Employees are encouraged to seek out professional and personal development opportunities, and many employees noted they’ve taken advantage of the tuition reimbursement program. One staffer said the company takes a holistic approach to performance reviews as these are based on both personal and professional development, teamwork/mentoring goals and how much the employee gives back to the community.
The company also places a high value on volunteer work, with employees receiving 21 paid hours to use volunteering for causes they believe in. In addition, the agency pays for all staffers to attend several companywide fundraising events throughout the year. “I feel so fortunate to work for a company that has grown but still maintains the sense of compassion it had when it was a smaller company,” one said. Another commented that he/she has grown career-wise, and has become “a better person overall.”
With the implementation of programs such as New Hire Buddies that ensure new employees are integrated, and Beat Basics that promotes synergy across divisions, coupled with department mentors, a boot camp for emerging managers and plenty of half-day workshops, Heartbeat has made clear that investing in its people is paramount to its success.
To see more about what makes Heartbeat a Best Place to Work, read the feature.
Large Agency Winners
FCB Health New York
FCB Health New York garnered high marks in employee development and work-life balance, with one employee stating, “They care about you and where you’re going career-wise and life-wise.” One judge noted, “They really seem to celebrate their staff’s personal time and encourage people to actually use it,” as evidenced by the company’s Out of Office series, which showcases employees’ hobbies outside of work.
As for the work part of the equation, “Never before have I worked harder than I do here, but I’m thrilled to do it, because the work is rewarding and gratifying,” one staffer shared.
FCB offers an extensive curriculum of learning and development in every facet of business, Lunch and Learns with agency and external experts, 80 different classroom workshops and more than 9,000 online courses. It also stages an innovation week during which employees get to hear from cutting edge technology experts from across multiple industries. “Knowledge sharing is strongly encouraged here,” noted one staffer.
Another aspect our judges felt deserved recognition was the “personal feel” achieved by the agency despite its large size. In illustration of this quality, employees praised the company’s efforts to give back to the community through volunteer work, as well as by donating proceeds from the company’s coffee bar to charity.
“FCB is a company that cares, and that trickles down from upper management,” one staffer shared. “We are a huge agency that feels like a family,” noted another. “Every day I come to work I feel safe, happy and supported, and I leave with a sense of accomplishment.”
Top scores in workplace considerations and diversity and inclusion, and one of the most highly rated management teams, helped this agency network impress our judges.
Intouch boasts a robust offering of education-based perks including an internal training and development department focused on individual departments, an onsite “university” dubbed ICE (Intouch Continuing Education) with course offerings on a wide variety of topics that employees noted were “far superior” to any courses they had ever taken previously; tuition reimbursement; and perhaps most notable, a student loan paydown policy of $100 per month until the threshold of $12,000 is met, a benefit many employees called “a game changer.”
While acknowledging that the workload can sometimes be challenging, employees noted that hard work is frequently rewarded by management throughout the year, whether through spot bonuses, with real time promotions and enviable holiday party prizes — i.e. an all-expenses paid vacation to anywhere in the world.
In addition, the company offers a plethora of recognition tools that allow peers to praise each other for a job well done and that are tied to a financial component with financial rewards, prizes or stipends. These, employees said, foster a highly collaborative atmosphere where employees “work hard to build each other up.”
“I genuinely like and trust all the people I work with, and feel like they always have my best interests at heart,” one staffer said.
Lockwood was particularly praised on the career advancement front, presenting clear direction for career succession, and despite the fact that it operates with a largely virtual office, it offers one of the most comprehensive live training programs in the industry, with each track specifically tailored to an employee’s individual role.
Judges were impressed by the company’s extremely low turnover rate, (less than 5% year-over-year) with employees noting that they had seen many people who left return within a year, affectionately dubbed “the boomerangs.”
“I’ve only seen a handful of people leave in the several years I’ve been here,” one staffer said. “Half of them are now back with an even greater appreciation for the company. That’s saying something.”
The company’s commitment to maintaining a team atmosphere shone through to our judges. The company promotes team spirit with a 2-day meeting held every January, usually in a tropical location, that includes structured team building, training and activities as well as a variety of informal events for socializing.
This agency offers great career-development paths and mentoring, and takes work-life balance seriously. Some of the innovative perks offered include a fourth trimester program for new moms, with the option for flexible and part-time schedules to help ease the transition back to work, coaching for new parents and pet insurance.
Earning the highest praise from our judges was the five-week sabbatical W2O offers to all employees who reach the 5-year mark, all of them dubbing it an “incredible” and “rare” perk for a very stressful industry.
Employees noted company founder Jim Weiss makes it clear that “the people are everything,” and that work-life balance is key to the company’s continued success in attracting and retaining talent. Staffers shared that managers encourage them to work from home one day per week and are respectful of employees’ time outside of the office.
Formal goal setting and professional development conversations take place quarterly. One staffer wrote that the company is “very clear on its expectations for your role and growth, and it is genuinely interested in helping you meet those expectations.” In addition, employees are encouraged to engage themselves in work they’re interested in. “The process for rewarding employees who demonstrate excellence is very well established,” one staffer said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded staff in this industry.”