BEST LARGE AGENCY TO WORK FOR: PADILLA SPEER BEARDSLEY
Minneapolis-based Padilla Speer Beardsley has featured regularly on our Best Agencies to Work For list, but this is the first time it has ranked number one in its weight class, a reflection of the commitment of chief executive Lynn Casey and vice president of human resources Barb Kuklock to ensure that as the firm grows—it now has more than 100 people—it continues to operate according to the strong Midwestern values that have earned it a reputation as one of the best managed firms in the country.
One key to the firm’s culture is that Padilla Speer Beardsley looks first to existing employees and friends of the firm around the country for candidate referrals. “That’s because people who know us best, understand our values and the qualities we seek in potential employees,” says Kuklock, who says that in 2009, 65 percent of new hires in Minneapolis and New York resulted from such referrals. And while PSB looks for relevant work experience, it is also keen to ensure than new employees are committed to the firm’s guiding principles (be your best; act with integrity and respect; keep learning; and lead clients and deliver results) and bring a passion for extra-curricular leadership.
The firm helps employees “keep learning” with a professional development program called Padilla University, where courses focus on topics such as ethical decision making; difficult conversations; new business development; and media relations best practices, drawing on resources from Harvard Business School and the Council of Public Relations Firms. New courses in 2009 included “Getting to Great: How to Fast Track Your Leadership Impact,” facilitated by David Grossman, a Worldcom Public Relations Group partner who specializes in employee engagement; and Strengths Finder, an assessment that allows employees to better understand their personal strengths and learn how to do what they do best every day.
Padilla Speer Beardsley also has a passion for giving back to the communities where its employee-owners live and in 2008 its philanthropic efforts were honored with the coveted Minnesota Keystone Award, presented annually by the regional chamber of commerce to companies with extraordinary philanthropic records.
Finally, it’s clear that employee ownership remains one of the firm’s most important assets when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Says one respondent: “The fact that we're an employee-owned firm means decisions are made here and they positively impact us all rather than a faceless leader or group of shareholders and we have a role in the decision-making process.” Another cites “the dedication of some higher level team members to help lower level team members learn, grow and stay challenged with work that is important to the client. These higher level team members take the time to provide unsolicited feedback and encouragement to lower level staff.