Click here for the full list of winners in the PRWeek UK Best Places to Work Awards.
Winner: Don't Cry Wolf
Don't Cry Wolf won praise for its genuine ambition of wanting to do things differently, and clocking up significant successes.
The firm believes in getting the right work/life blend, rather than work/life balance, providing an office culture that fits around employees' lives. The structure, along with investment in technology, means the focus is not on presenteeism; staff are accountable for their objectives, but where and when they complete them is less important. One member of staff works from Berlin, for example, and another from Edinburgh.
The flexible approach has come into its own during the coronavirus crisis. Don't Cry Wolf mandated home-working two weeks before the official lockdown began. The founders shared their 'interruption' plan with the team, and every week they take staff through the agency's financial situation, updates on clients, work that's been put on hold, and more.
On a personal level, daily high-impact training sessions, a virtual 'pub' and 9am 'group huddles' have helped foster a positive spirit.
Judges commended Don't Cry Wolf for working with an HR professional from the start, and this has helped with mental health support amid the pandemic. Staff counselling sessions are available and online therapy sessions will be launched imminently.
Every employee is asked to complete a "Compass for Life Map", where they share their personal and professional goals, map out what they need and identify contingencies and milestones. These maps become the blueprint for personalised training.
The agency has equal maternity and paternity policies – which includes three months at full pay, and phased returning to work. Schemes to improve diversity include blind CVs and no degree requirement. Don't Cry Wolf is also working with a government-backed third party to deliver an apprenticeship initiative.
Finally, an innovative policy that stood out is the 'menopause clause'. Written into contracts from the start, it offers support for staff members who are affected, including time off and access to mental-health support when needed.
Highly Commended: CCgroup
The b2b tech PR agency was commended for its enlightened policies and approach to employee welfare. Last year brought a fresh impetus to make changes after a challenging trading period in 2018.
Mental heath is an important focus – CCgroup also won the Mental Health Champion Award this year and aims to normalise conversations on the topic. Actions include: regular workshops and panel sessions on mental health; mentors asking about mentees' personal wellbeing, with any issues referred to Mental Health First Aiders; providing time off for counselling; and introducing a £150-a-person wellbeing allowance.
Every member of the senior leadership team checks in with their mentees at least every two days.
Admitting it still has progress to make in diversity, last year CCgroup produced a diversity plan. Steps include: making it clear to recruiters that it wants diverse shortlists, having one 'stream leader' volunteer as a Taylor Bennett Foundation mentor, and sending four account directors to schools in diverse areas to discuss PR as a career.
Progress has been made, moving CCgroup marginally ahead of the industry average in terms of its proportion of non-white staff, although the agency admits more needs to be done.
This year, CCgroup is partnering with LGBTQ network Intercomms on skills-based training events.
Milk & Honey PR