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Continental/Middle East/Africa | UK | Networks | About/FAQ
The Holmes Report’s Best Agencies to Work For are determined by a comprehensive survey of agency employees at more than 25 consultancies throughout EMEA. The process solicits employee views on a wide range of issues ranging from the integrity of senior management to the quality of professional development, from empowerment and risk-taking to compensation. For more information on the methodology — and how you can order your own agency's results — visit this section's About/FAQ page. The top winner in each category was recognized at the 2017 EMEA SABRE Awards, at the Roundhouse in London on May 23.
1. Hope & Glory (Independent)
In just five years, Hope & Glory has solidified its reputation in London’s fiercely competitive consumer market with a consistent outpouring of impressive, award-winning work. The 61-person shop is run by founders Jo Carr and James Gordon-Macintosh with a focus on ‘fame, fortune and fun’ as a way to keep staff — and ultimately clients — happy.
The firm does two 360-degree appraisals per year, plus employees are assigned a personal manager who takes a proactive role in their training and development. The “Rise & Shine” training programme includes monthly learn and lunches; external training courses; and field trips to spur creativity and insights. Already, 18 people have completed the firm’s graduate training programme (15 are still there). The agency recently launched a programme to help non-graduates enter the PR workforce directly from school as an apprentice with the potential to become a full-time employee.
On top of generous time-off, the firm’s sabbatical program allows anyone who has been with firm for 2+ years to take three months unpaid, as they wish, with a job guarantee. As an LLP, employees can buy into the partnership over time. New mothers are encouraged to take on year off (with a portion of this paid) and new fathers are allotted two weeks paid. Hope & Glory debuted on the list last year as a finalist.
2. Manifest London (Independent)
The firms that get culture right skip the gimmicks and focus on building an environment that fosters engagement, creativity and collaboration. The seven-year-old Manifest London does this by empowering its 26 employees to build their own future at the firm, take responsibility for their actions and be proud of their successes.
Manifest has also reinvented the traditional benefits package with a system designed directly to reduce employee stress, incentivize healthy living and reward contribution. The staff work with the agency’s ‘Happiness Officer’ to curate the benefits that are most meaningful to them. Among these are unlimited holiday, interest-free holiday loans, communal breakfasts on Monday mornings, help with moving, monthly massages, house cleaners, and others. The parental leave policy is structured around an employee’s tenure and includes up to three months at nearly full pay before the statutory benefits apply. Parents can also take leave at any point during the first three years of the child being born — something it calls “real parental leave.”
Every quarter an anonymous survey measures overall emotional well-being, processes that are working and colleagues that are making the biggest impact. All new employees are given “a buddy” to help them settle into the culture, offering guidance and advice. Budget is also allocated for employees to work on passion projects. The annual Manifestival brings together employees across offices for collaboration and team-building. This year marks Manifest’s debut on this list.
3. John Doe (Independent)
The 20-person shop offers a variety of perks under its “gift of” umbrella to keep employee engagement and morale higher than average. Among these, the firm gives “the gift of time” (as it calls it) to employees, including extra holiday per year of service, paid sabbaticals, late starts on birthdays and early close on summer Fridays. The “gift of spreading payments” includes a cycle-to-work and as season ticket loan scheme. The “gift of health & safety” includes health insurance for when employees leave the country, flexible working hours for parents and a return-to-work bonus for new mothers after six months. Other perks include National Art passes for employees, cultural courses, technology devices, contribution allowances for gym memberships and professional development at every level. This is John Doe’s first showing on the list.
4. Racepoint UK (Independent)
The global firm Racepoint has 25 people in its London office, where it serves clients across Europe. The office takes career progression especially seriously with two formal reviews per year with promotions aligning with those. This process pays off for staff looking to be recognized — in the three review cycles from December 2015 to December 2016, nine team members were promoted with another seven slated for 2017. The agency also conducts a steady stream of professional development and opportunities for staff to continue their industry education.
Cultural development is fostered with talent exchange between offices, travel opportunities for events and conferences and through its quarterly Global Exchange Programme in which staff with one year’s service can apply to work in another office for a week, all expenses paid. Balance is achieved with methodical processes that keep tabs on over-service. For instance, at the start of each month clients hours are forecasted, then management conducts a check-in two weeks later and adjusts workload accordingly. Holiday entitlement starts at 28 days, plus service days, personal days and summer Fridays. New mothers are compensated beyond the standard statutory pay during their maternity leave.
Racepoint UK organizes several social events throughout the year and offers additional benefits like wellness payments, sabbaticals, bonuses among others.
5. Unity (Independent)
For the third year in a row, Unity makes our Best Agencies to Work For in the UK list, so it’s not surprising the firm was also ranked number one in our Global Creative Index (weighted by headcount) for the second year in row. There’s no doubt its strong culture contributes to the spectacular work produced by its 30 employees. The firm describes its purpose as “Increasing Human Happiness” — with the caveat that this mission begins “at home.” “We know what each and everyone of our teams’ top five personal needs are, and this has influenced what we have focused our time and money on, as far as fostering a healthy culture,” says managing director Davnett Doran.
Among these, the agency gives team members access to exclusive memberships (including a Soho House membership last year), pro-bono work driven by team passions, an “antidote” to Trump and Brexit by tasking employees to find joyful news to share, encouraging team members to publish their own work, and having dogs around the office. The standard perks include half-day Fridays, unlimited fruit, flexible working, spot treats, 28 days holiday, among others.
BEST AGENCIES TO WORK FOR EMEA 2017:
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