NEW YORK—Fleishman-Hillard, Text 100, Davies and GroundFloor Media have been named the 2007 Best Agencies to Work For following a survey of close to 5,000 employees at approximately 80 of the leading public relations firms in the United States. The firms will all receive their awards at next week’s SABRE Awards dinner, to be held at Cipriani on New York’s 42nd Street.
Best Large Agency to Work For: Fleishman-Hillard
Innovation has been a major focus of professional development activity over the past 12 months, with more than 200 sessions during 2007 covering topics ranging from collaboration with other client partners to team-building to idea generation. The firm continues to offer an even broader range of training opportunities through Fleishman Hillard University, supplemented last year by its Leadership Institute for Managers, which offered five two-day courses in the U.S. and the U.K., attended by 300 managers. And more than 250 of the firm’s leaders from around the world attended a major leadership conference in Orlando in February. On the internal communications front, the company’s new and improved intranet, the source, provides career development and benefits information, and is supplemented by CEO Dave Senay’s popular internal blog. Says one respondent: “We have undergone significant change this year with management and employee transitions. Our team is more united and supportive that it has been since coming here more than a year ago. That is a testimony to the management team that is here, and each employee that if focused on making this an even stronger agency!”
Best Midsize Agency to Work For: Text 100
Text 100 has been a leader in employee recruitment and retention since the U.K.-based technology agency opened its first U.S. office. The firm develops its people through a holistic approach to fostering a culture of learning, which means that professional development is not the responsibility of just a single trainer, or even a professional development team, but of all employees, who are expected to act as teachers, coaches, mentors and students. The process starts with a new hire orientation program, Text Start, and includes PRotocol University, an in-house training program open to all Text 100 staff with local PU ambassadors in each office are accountable for developing a training calendar tailored to the local office needs; the LIFT Program (Leadership Investment for Text 100), focused on leadership development; and the Performance Management Program, which seeks 360 feedback based on a range of competencies. In addition, a significant investment has been made to implement a global database that supports talent management and succession planning around the world. The result is a “Supportive environment full of smart, fun people that want you to succeed,” says one respondent. Still, for some the differentiator is still the firm’s emphasis on work-life balance. “Five weeks of vacation is unimaginable anywhere else,” raves one happy worker.
Best Small Agency to Work For: Davies
Davies’ objective is “to build the most strategic, most knowledgeable, highly motivated, best equipped, client focused organization of winners in the nation.” To achieve that objective, it starts with a tool called The Talent Readiness Generator, which involves a series of processes that together enable the agency to attract, orient, develop, motivate and retain top talent. Recruitment begins with The Talent Locator, a unique sourcing process, and The Talent Identifier, which employs several assessment tools. On the professional development front, the firm uses The Performance Builder, which is segmented into three areas of focus—company, client, and craft—and includes focused staff retreats, presentations, on-the-job training as well as companywide reading and discussion, formal coursework from outside vendors, in-house workshops, and industry conferences related to our practice areas. Meanwhile, the Career Path tool defines the progression in proficiency, client focus, and responsibility for each practice level. It’s an approach that keeps standards high. Says one respondent: “They expect me to do my best, prepare me to do my best and everyone around me does their best. We are all focused on quality and winning with integrity for our clients.”
Best Boutique Agency to Work For: GroundFloor Media
According to the author of Topgrading, Dr. Bradford Smart, the key to building a superior company is the ongoing ability to recruit and retain superior personnel. In Topgrading, Smart expands upon that concept by examining in great detail exactly how leading organizations have assembled such top-level employees, and then showing precisely how others can do it, too. In 2006, Denver-based GroundFloor Media implemented a “topgrading” process for hiring new employees, separating A, B or C player characteristics and hiring only the best. In addition, current GroundFloor team members participate in an annual “topgrading” peer review process. The process has paid off in terms of attrition rate (around 6 percent) and employee satisfaction. The culture is “very positive, empowering, supportive, flexible,” says one respondent. Another cites “The people. GroundFloor Media has a team of only senior-level PR pros that respect each other, spend time with each other outside of work, encourage one another and deliver excellent client work.”
More details on the U.S. Best Consultancies to Work For survey will be published in the June issue of The Holmes Report’s PR World, our new global newsletter