The judges were very impressed by the practical and thoughtful nature of Citypress' industry-leading approach to training and development.
The agency had a problem: how to ensure staff allocate time for training when client work often, understandably, takes precedence. To deal with this, about 25 per cent of employees' billable time is set aside for training – and participation has accelerated.
In 2019, Citypress conducted 91 training sessions. It allocated a budget of £100,000 to professional development and personal wellbeing; a minimum of £1,000 per person, per year.
Staff receive an annual Career Development Review, where a Career Development Plan is devised to suit the individual's needs. Progress is checked quarterly and promotions are linked to progression in the Reviews.
Like many of its peers, Citypress has been keen to increase its creative prowess. Last year all staff – including administrative employees – went through a creative training scheme run by Special Sauce Training, whose clients include Google and L'Oréal. Citypress admitted that in the past it was guilty of focusing on more senior staff for creative work, and the move was having a democratising effect. A monthly creative challenge now asks teams to deliver a creative idea for a live or fictitious brief.
Judges commended how Citypress incorporated wellbeing and mental-health initiatives into training. Staff have access to an independent financial adviser to help alleviate stress relating to their finances - a particularly acute problem among younger employees. There are plans to extend this to a deeper financial awareness in 2020.
This year Citypress has also included meditation, mindfulness and counselling sessions as part of some Career Development Plans. On a more direct level, all staff received mental-health awareness training.
Highly Commended: CCgroup
CCgroup was commended for the overhaul of its approach to training and development, which followed the launch of a seven-year strategic plan about 18 months ago.
Like Citypress, the tech specialist noticed there was a problem with staff failing to use the training on offer. Its impressive training budget – £25,000 in 2019 – wasn't being fully spent. CCgroup adopted a 'carrot and stick' approach; for example, taking part in the PRCA Continuous Professional Development programme is mandatory to achieve pay rises, bonuses and promotions.
In 2019, 14 'CCgroupies' achieved CPD accreditation – the most of any agency, according to the PRCA.
The training programme includes: individual training sessions (more than 30 in 2019), from crisis management to time management; monthly 'tech talks' from industry figures; monthly 'lunch and learns' with team members; mental-health and wellbeing talks; and even a session on resilience hosted by a stand-up comedian.
In late 2019, the agency conducted personality profiling of all employees to increase understanding and ease conflict – tailored conflict-management training is planned.
In total, CCgroup undertook 2,500 billable hours of training last year.