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DECEMBER 1, 2017 //     

The Secret to Being a Best Place to Work? Putting People First

By: Scott Allison

Over the years, we’ve been blessed to be recognized for our work for amazing clients. But learning today that we were again named one of PRWeek’s “Best Places to Work” makes me even more proud, as it was based on a survey of our employees. It also validates what Andy Hardie-Brown and I set out to do from the very beginning: create a great company where talented people at all levels could do great work, grow professionally and build a long-term career.

The agency business is not an easy one and we recognize the importance of collaboration with all our colleagues. In a competitive industry, the most important thing we can do is create an environment that is conducive to doing consistently great work.

Allison+Partners was founded in 2001, and has grown from a 12-person start-up public relations agency to a global integrated marketing communications firm with 29 offices and more than 300 employees worldwide. At the onset, we decided to put our people and culture first, and trusted that everything else would flow from there. Our core values were developed agency-wide from every level of the organization to focus us, and continue to guide our company today:

  • Keep promises and exceed expectations
  • Be passionate and enthusiastic
  • Empower people to reach their full potential
  • Nurture a collaborative environment
  • Be entrepreneurial

We put several things in place to help achieve our vision: “Open Door” meetings with founders to foster direct communication between staff and senior leadership; Allison University to arm staff with professional skills; and sabbaticals to employees after only five years to provide work/life balance that would allow them to return refreshed and enthusiastic about their work. These and other programs fueled our culture, which also fueled our growth.

As we evolved our capabilities and grew globally, we took care that our culture remained central to all we did. We put great emphasis on whether those invited to join us were a “cultural fit” and implemented numerous activities to ensure they remained engaged after being brought onboard. As we embarked on global expansion, we made it a priority to embrace the local cultures where our offices are based.

Along the way, we continued to check in with our employees to see if we were on track. Our annual Culture Survey has helped us identify and respond to challenges, implement new benefits such as unlimited vacation days, Workout Wednesdays and organic growth bonuses, as well as refine our review processes and professional development offerings.

While we put all of this in place, it wouldn’t have mattered unless we had the right people in place to help our culture flourish. And our people are the best. It’s hard to explain, but there is a sense of comradery here that isn’t seen at other agencies. People are bonded not just by the work they do each day together, but also by the friendships they have outside of our walls. They volunteer and spend time socially together – even after their hours put in at the office are done.

At the end of the day, we’re proud of the creative, collaborative and entrepreneurial culture we’ve worked hard to build. If our employees are happy, it comes through in their work which, in turn, is good for them, our agency and our clients.

Scott Allison is co-founder, chairman and CEO of Allison+Partners.

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