We were honored to be named the Best Small Agency to Work For at the 2013 SABRE Awards last week. We’ve long prided ourselves on creating and investing in a culture that’s rewarding – and just plain fun – for our employees to come to every day. But what does such an honor mean to clients, since they don’t work here and they have their own cultures to care about?
I’d like to be able to say I thought long and hard about the answer to that question but, to be honest, the answer was right there – it’s about talent. An agency that creates the best environment to work in is in the best position to attract and retain the very best talent from across the communications sector. For clients, that translates to the most engaged, skilled and motivated people working on their business.
It also means less turn-over. 360 was launched just over a decade ago and our practice leaders have all been with us 5+ years and many of our supervisors have been here just as long. They’ve created a strong base for us to add to with new talent – people who bring fresh ideas and new approaches that we readily integrate with established, proven practices.
Our key learning in building a “best agency to work for” over the years is that culture is everyone’s responsibility and can’t be owned by one person or one department. We rely on our entire staff to engage in employee engagement, whether they contribute to professional development, operational, social or other activities that enrich our collective experience and keep us at the forefront of emerging trends, tools and best practices for our clients. That means senior staff have to be open to ideas coming from all levels – and acting on those ideas. We are and we do.
One of our most recent employee engagement activities focused on “strength-training.” Each staff member had an opportunity to participate in a series of 1:1 coaching sessions to identify strengths, both realized and unrealized. Next, we hosted a “speed-dating” session, in which staff members compared strengths with co-workers and discussed how they can help each other convert unrealized strengths to realized ones. 360’s strength-training program culminated with a team-building exercise in which our coach tumbled up individual strength profiles to an agency strength profile and we discovered as a team what unrealized strength – courage – we needed to work on. We found senior team members were less willing to take risks than younger team members – and that the younger team members could be relied upon to help us be more courageous as an agency. That’s given rise to younger team members taking the reins more at weekly staff meetings, presenting their approaches and accomplishments for all of us to learn from and be inspired by.
I’m so thankful for and proud of our teams in Boston and New York, and can’t wait to see what they come up with next – for 360 and our clients!