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One factor that should never be overlooked when it comes to why employees love their workplace is winning—and Cohn & Wolfe enjoyed a winning year in 2014, with US fee income up by close to 16 percent and plenty of big account additions. That was undoubtedly a factor in the firm’s ranking in this year’s Best Agencies to Work For research, but there are others, including enhanced employee communications (newsletters designed inform and inspire) and an expanded professional development initiative that includes training in the firm’s “dig deeper, imagine more” process.
It’s clear that employees have bought in: “In this day and age, creativity can fall by the wayside when deadlines, bureaucracy and tactical tasks get in the way,” says one. “However, here at Cohn & Wolfe, we are strongly encouraged to push past the boundaries paperwork and think creatively from research insights, honing in on our ‘Dig Deeper. Imagine More.’ mantra.” As for the broader culture: “My favorite thing about Cohn & Wolfe is the fact that, above everything, we are a team,” says another staffer. “When things get hard—which they do—you know that your team and the entire agency has your back and that everyone is in it together.”
Runners-up: Weber Shandwick, Edelman
Margi Booth’s firm has always had a “work hard, play hard” vibe, and over the past couple of years it has done a good job of balancing its investment in creativity, content creation, and analytics with a wide range of team-building activities. The firm’s “spirit team”—a group of employees from all levels focused on morale—comes up with team-building ideas like “Beer Fridays” or free tickets to sporting events, and the professional development efforts, including an outside speaker series, focuses on helping people unleash their creativity.
“Our team has an intellectual curiosity that makes coming to work fun,” says one respondent. “Everyone pushes for innovation, for performance, to do better—and in a helpful productive way.” Another likes the “entrepreneurial spirit” and a culture “where anyone who has a good idea is heard loud and clear, where ideas are debated and respected—a good idea can come from anyone—and people help one another to get the job done.”
Runners-up: APCO Worldwide, Finn Partners, Marina Maher Communications, Gibbs & Soell
California public affairs firm Davies has a track record second to none in our Best Agencies to Work For survey, having featured on these lists 10 times and ranked second in this category last year—a testament to founder and CEO John Davies’ belief that “we are only as good as each member of our professional team."
“While we do stress-filled work, our office is uplifting, low-key and very fun,” says one respondent. “We all learn a lot from one another.” Adds another: “After a number of firms I found a home here at Davies because the work is stimulating, the clients really depend on us and the leadership cares and are very generous. There's not a lot of that going around.”
Runners-up: Chamberlain Healthcare PR, Shift Communications, Biosector 2, PAN Communications
For the second consecutive year, New York’s Group Gordon takes the top honors in the boutique category, reflecting founder Michael Gordon’s ambition to cultivate “an open, contemporary culture like that of Google; yet the quality of our work product and approach aspires to be like that of Kekst.” GG looks for people who are critical thinkers and emotionally intelligent.
“We're a meritocracy that values and recognizes quality work,” says one respondent. “Because we're small, each member of the team has a lot of responsibility and an opportunity to engage with client leadership on a regular basis. We only take on clients in which we believe, making it easy to come to work each day.” Adds another: “I have been actively engaged with my clients since my second week here, encouraged to take ownership of tasks and consult on strategic decisions. We are not just given feedback, but the opportunity to apply it.”
Runners-up: Fish Consulting, CooperKatz & Co., 360 Public Relations, Zapwater,
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