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

With offices in Singapore and London, the agency was named one of PRWeek Asia's Best Places to Work in the small agency category.

Answers from Marianne Blamire, managing director, pictured below.

Number of APAC employees: 10

Number and location of APAC offices: One office - Singapore

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

Salaries and benefits are reviewed annually against industry benchmarks by an independent third party, 33 Talent, who specialise in agency placements across Asia. Our benefits package is higher than APAC norms and reflects the reality and needs of our multinational team.

For instance, we provide pension contributions for those not eligible for CPF in Singapore and all employees (‘salties’) receive 26 days’ holiday, private healthcare and monthly wellbeing allowance. Everyone participates in Salt’s bonus scheme which is reviewed annually to ensure fair rewarding of success.

How do you ensure your teams receive the required training?

In 2016, we doubled our training budget. We believe in developing salties to meet the needs of the business. salt’s annual Outlook Day sets the strategy and salties are asked what training they need, from which the MD creates a bespoke training plan. 

Regular performance reviews give everyone opportunities to evaluate development areas and line managers identify training sessions and conferences for their reports.

We combine external courses with ‘guest’ speakers, mentoring, best practice sharing and peer-to-peer seminars. 

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

We encourage salties to become better through two things: stretching themselves with great clients who want to achieve more; and our behavioural framework, inspiring them to find their strengths, bring personal passions to work, and live salt’s distinctive culture.

Every saltie has a line manager responsible for their career development and wellbeing. Regular one-to-one catch-ups are supported with budget provided for lunch dates!

We run appraisals annually in January, followed by structured development meetings in March and September. SMART objectives are cascaded after appraisals to ensure salties are clear on personal development and can contribute to the overall business plan. 

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

Salt trusts employees to get the job done in a way that suits them. Salties can work flexibly and from home – whether Singapore, London or Manila. There are London secondments, sabbaticals, study leave. Our annual 26 days’ holiday can be supplemented by buying 5 more days and salt also provides a monthly well-being allowance.

Our social committee arrange regular events: art classes; wine nights; birthday celebrations. We also have a monthly book-club: ‘Brainfood Breakfast.’

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

Salt is based in a shared working space which reflects our company values. We have access to well-designed meeting rooms equipped with the latest technology. Our work stations are well-lit, chairs designed to support good posture and open layout and glass walls creates a friendly atmosphere. We have a well-stocked pantry and are in walking distance of many restaurants, bars, gyms, and entertainment options.

Because we’re surrounded by other entrepreneurial businesses in the same building, we have great networking and collaboration opportunities. We audit annually our needs and do an office refresh to ensure the space is optimised. 

How does your company effectively communicate with employees?

The Outlook Day sets the tone for the year and progress against KPIs is shared openly with all staff. Weekly calls between country MDs ensure global alignment and each month we have an all-agency virtual meeting between London and Singapore to revisit goals and openly share learnings. An annual staff survey helps us understand where improvements in communication are needed.

We keep salties and alumni in-the-loop with company news such as recruitment, promotions, best practices, even personal celebrations. We do this through a ‘Friday Shout Out’ and our closed Facebook group.

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

Salt is committed to a policy of treating all employees and job applicants equally. During the recruitment process, we use the behavioural framework - developed with a ‘no cultural boundaries’ lens – to identify people who embody what a saltie is and hire those who are aligned with those behaviours we believe drive a successful organisation.

We encourage people to embrace their differences and new recruits are given a copy of ‘The Strengths Finder’ which helps us understand each other and how we can best work together as a team.

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

We take pride in the fact that our staff turnover in 2015 and 2016 was zero. We believe this is because our mantra, ‘become better’, encompasses every aspect of our business, from personal improvement to client servicing. We’ve worked hard to try and do business the right way and believe this makes us an attractive place to work. 

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

Better never stops. 

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