brand-magicThe average agency employee is probably going to spend more than 2,000 hours at the office every year. That’s a huge chunk of anyone’s life, so it’s no wonder workplace culture is such an important consideration for new talent. Why spend the majority of your waking hours in a place that makes you miserable?

A truly great agency isn’t only a place where brand magic happens, it’s a place where employees feel personally invested in the company’s success. It’s a place where creativity is encouraged, not stifled, and where staff feel as if they are valued and appreciated.

Company culture is vital to the success of an agency. For one thing, it’s one of the most important factors for young talent. Rick Boyko, director and professor at VCU Brandcenter, says that graduates look at two factors when choosing where to apply: the quality of the work and the culture. “There’s a vibe that you get from a place that feels contemporary and fun, and another you get from a place that feels like a sweatshop.”

What are some great things you can do to improve culture at your agency?

Brand Vision and Values

Creating a powerful company culture begins at the core of an agency — the brand. A powerful brand stands for something: It showcases the agency’s strengths and creates an overall vision of who your company is and what you believe is important. Alongside the brand vision are the company values, or the ideals and moral compass your company strives to achieve.

The branding is vital, because trips and free donuts mean nothing if people aren’t connected to the bigger picture. Inspire people to be a part of something bigger. This includes a set of company values for how the company and everyone in it are going to behave. As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure employees are happy and content in their work.

Start a Company Newsletter

Every week, email around a fun, pithy company newsletter that highlights some of the week’s achievements, features a different employee with a quick-fire interview, and includes some industry news and great cartoons. Take submissions for content from anyone around the agency. Make the newsletter something everyone looks forward to.

Reward Loyalty

Rewarding staff who’ve stuck around for years is a common culture-improving tactic, but you can get a little more creative with it than just a few extra weeks of annual leave. What about granting a one-off fund to cover a well-deserved holiday or throwing the rewardee a killer party?

Do Good Deeds

Take the team out to do regular good deeds in the community, such as teaching an art workshop at a local school, or planting trees at a nature reserve, or painting over grafitti with cool mural art. Doing a little good in the world helps to build team spirit and gets everyone working together.

Boost Brainpower

Provide opportunities for your team to learn more about topics that interest them. I used to work at a company that would invite a speaker for a lunchtime meeting every month - on topics as varied as nutrition, personal finance, astronomy and Thai cooking. Other workplaces host a monthly book club, or offer discounts for their team at local community classes.

Encourage Grassroots Culture

Having a great culture doesn’t come from up high. It has to be part of the grassroots nature of the company, grown organically though the way people interact with each other. It’s the spontaneous pizza lunches, the “bring your pet day”, the way everyone joins forces to get an overdue project out the door. Encourage employees to suggest their own initiatives and to collaborate openly.

Be Flexible About Life

These days, one of the best things an agency can do to create a great culture and inspire top talent is to offer flexible working options, including working outside of the normal 9-5, and or working from home. Happy employees are those who aren’t dealing with traffic every day, who can fold their washing on their break, or stay home with their sick kid and still get their project finished.

What does your agency do to promote and improve your workplace culture?

Originally published Jul 8, 2014 3:00:00 AM, updated December 02 2014