UK Best Places to Work Awards 2019 winners - Mid-Size Agency

A purpose of 'positive change' helped the Mid-Size Agency award go to MullenLowe salt, which also picked up the Culture Award. The Best Places to Work Awards are supported by CALM and REBA.

Mid-Size Agency (30-99 UK employees) Winner: MullenLowe salt

Culture Award Winner: MullenLowe salt

MullenLowe salt’s ‘purpose’ is described as "positive change through communications". It’s a principle that permeates much of its policies and approach to dealing with employees - for example, towards mental health.

The 40-strong agency has three mental health ‘champions’, with eight others set to be trained.

MD Nicky Young is using her first-hand experience of mental health to champion the issue, with a company-wide programme in partnership with ARKEO – a ‘mental fitbit’, that offers a "unified conversation tool around how people are feeling day to day".

A series of ‘Head Talks’ for individuals to discuss issues, online resources, and mental health first aiders are also in place. Private healthcare can be spent on counselling.
Individuals have benefited from the agency’s enlightened approach with, for example, extended paid leave and even paying for flights for one staff member to be with their family.

Judges were impressed by the approach to line management, with specific details of the role given in response to requests for more clarity. Staff could also choose not to be line managers, recognising that not everyone wants to manage.

Job descriptions generally were overhauled to include ‘paths to growth’: specific requirements rather than vague ones around, for example, being more strategic or creative.

MullenLowe salt’s ‘agile working’ policy allows non-office-based working for all employees, not necessary just those with children.

Unusually, MullenLowe salt has achieved B-Corp status, committing it to social good and ethical practices. Judges felt the principle of protecting the team had been built into the fabric of the agency, making it a deserved winner.

Highly Commended: Cirkle

Reward Award Winner: Cirkle

Mental Health Award Winner: Cirkle

Cirkle is among the first employee-owned PR agencies, with 60 per cent of the business owned by staff; everyone of whom has ownership and benefits from an annual tax-free bonus of up to £3,600 plus other long-term financial incentives.

Cirkle signed the Time to Change Pledge around mental health in October, and its ‘Wellbeing Warriors' produce a detailed programme of events, seminars and workshops.

‘Meditation with a Monk’, wellbeing days and yoga are on offer, alongside resilience training, line manager training on mental health and individual ‘Wellbeing Action Plans’.

Physical health is addressed too, with a gym added to the office when they found the discounted gym membership perk was not popular.

The agency’s training offer also impressed, especially the HIT (high intensity training) programme that covers several subjects in short bursts. Even hypnosis has been used to encourage a winning mindset. Nearly two hours per person per week is spent on training.

To help address the lack of ethnic diversity, Cirkle implemented a three-month internship programme with Creative Access, the BAME recruitment specialists to the creative industries.

Resilience workshops, sessions on how to network are among the many other benefits that make Cirkle a very impressive entrant in this highly competitive category.



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