PRWeek Asia's Best Places to Work Winners in their own words: WE Communications

The global agency was named one of PRWeek Asia's Best Places to Work in the medium agency category.

Answers from Matthew Lackie, executive vice president, APAC, pictured below.

Number of APAC employees: 180

Number and location of APAC offices: Nine offices in five markets – China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Australia.

How do you ensure your company is competitive in terms of salary and other financial benefits?

WE salary ranges vary by geography to be competitive in each local market. We collect salary data from multiple sources including Mercer’s Global Marketing & PR Agency Survey and The Council of PR Firms’ Annual Survey to have a complete picture of the macro-level trends in the marketplace. More than 70 cents of every dollar we earn goes to our employees.

How do you ensure your teams receive the required training?

People stay with an agency for a few reasons: they believe in the vision/agency management, they work with great clients and they want to see investment in continual learning. This year, we launched WE UNI, a unique, localised development programme anchored in "THE WE WAY", our agency’s approach to integrated communications. Delivered in a module manner, the programme provides our teams with the means to navigate new frontiers in modern communications.

There are also global and regional exchange programmes allowing employees to participate in an immersive experience at another international office, fostering increased collaboration for clients, personal development and fun!

How do you ensure your staff have a clear career path and help them achieve their personal goals?

WE delivers a 360-degree employee experience so employees can help take control of their own career paths:

  • Annual talent review creates individual development plans that identify learning and development goals and resources to contribute.
  • Professional development opportunities through numerous forms: formal trainings, signature programs, knowledge-sharing exercises, external education pursuits.
  • Internal trainings focused on development of technical skills, leadership, management, mentoring and coaching, integrated influence, sales strategies, idea generation, creative services, and content generation.
  • Leadership Forum fosters development of technical and leadership experiences.

How does your company maintain a good work/life balance?

In a world that is always on, WE does it best to provide a flexible working environment that allows for the best work experiences for our employees and the best results for our clients. 

-      Paid time off starting at 20 days/year regardless of rank – one of the highest in the PR industry.

-      Work from home and work remote options for all staff

-      Mobile working supported through WE-Connect programme, which reimburses employees for purchases of monthly smartphone data plans

-      WE Life: a monthly reimbursement for personal services, eg gym membership, haircuts, manicures, massages etc.

  • CN: CNY250
  • HK: HKD350
  • IN: Rs.2000
  • SG: SGD65

-      1 paid holiday for employees that pass the three year mark:

  • China: CNY3,000
  • Hong Kong: HKD5,000
  • India: Rs.30,000
  • Singapore: SGD800

-      A three-week sabbatical programme for every four years of service at WE

-      WE Tour: a programme that allows staff to expense one night of hotel and expenses (if they are on personal travel to a city where there is a WE office) in order to work for a day in a WE office. 

How do you ensure your physical workplace environment and atmosphere is an attractive place to work?

Think news room.  This is an industry where your real learning comes from peers on the job. We are all about open spaces that create opportunities to collaborate and inspire. Find a space and make it yours. Offices are used for meeting rooms. No rank, no file, just people freely sharing dynamic, unexpected ideas across the board so we can shatter client expectations. Fewer walls = more collaboration, more free-thinking, more fun.

How does your company effectively communicate with employees?

Open door. Open dialogue. Hierarchy doesn’t sit well with us. Learning comes from all parts of the organisation. The agency leadership is committed to having transparent conversations with employees. It all starts at the beginning of the year when the team is involved and engaged in the annual strategic planning process. All communication falls out of that.

This takes the form of quarterly email and teleconference updates. It trickles down to regular communication via email and on social media about progress over client success, new wins and initiatives that support our annual agenda – citizenship, staff exchange, regional collaboration.  It is all in support of our mantra - #bettertogether.

Guess what? Accessible and open leadership has also led to happy clients, continued expansion of the regional offering, a team engaged and eager to learn, and industry props. Our attrition last year was only 15 percent, far below the industry average.

How do you ensure diversity at all levels of the organisation?

WE has driven the strategic expansion of WE’s APAC team through non-traditional hires. Former lawyers, ex-journalists, and converted tech specialists have been brought in to create a formidable pool of skills, knowledge, and perspectives aimed at providing clients with integrated and creative solutions.

We are committed to diversity, inclusion and freedom from discrimination in all aspects of the employment relationships.

If you had to pick the one most important factor for how your company minimises turnover, what would it be?

In the story of David vs Goliath… culture is our slingshot. Our people-oriented culture where employees feel valued, supported and prioritised, community is prized, and benefits and competition are competitive – is what sets us apart. Oh yeah, and it’s fun to work here!

In three words, describe what it is like to work at your company?

WE are future focused.

WE care about our impact.

WE want to do great work while having fun.

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