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It takes a team to be "A Best Place to Work"
8th Dec 2014 | Posted by Jim Joseph
Winning awards and garnering accolades is certainly a rewarding part of any job; I’ll never deny that, but it’s certainly not why we are in business.
There is one award, however, that makes us here at Cohn & Wolfe stand a little taller, and in many ways it is exactly why we are in business: Best Places to Work.
For the second year in a row, PRWeek has named Cohn & Wolfe as a “Best Place to Work” in the large public relations category.
Second year in a row!
Why would we care, you might ask?
Because, aside from making our clients successful, it’s our job as executives to make our employees happy and successful at work. In fact, the more happy and successful our employees are, the more our clients are successful as a result. That’s just how the balance works!
And it’s job number one for everyone at Cohn & Wolfe.
So how do we get there?
We had a bit of an “AHA” moment this year when it comes to how we think about our agency environment. Back in the day when I was new to the business, we met colleagues in a very natural and organic way. We socialized, compared notes, and got to know each other all on our own.
Today, with the complexities of our work, the transient way we flow between locations and, quite honestly, the reliance on technology, those more organic ways of meeting people from other teams are very few and far between.
It’s an issue we knew we had to solve.
When we were brainstorming about how to get people to meet each other across teams and grow bonds that will surely help their careers, we realized that as senior leaders we have to facilitate the exchange. It doesn’t happen on its own anymore. We have to create opportunities where people across teams and across geographies can not only meet and exchange information, but also start to like each other.
That’s the day “peer groups” were born at Cohn & Wolfe.
I credit our HR Director, Stephanie Howley, for not only coming up with the idea, but for championing and pushing it through to execution.
The concept is so simple: bring together employees from across teams who all share the same titles and job responsibilities regardless of their specific assignments. Give them a mission and a budget: create something fun that will unite the teams across Cohn & Wolfe. But there’s a hook: you have to keep it a secret.
The result: suddenly, out of nowhere, there’s a fun team-building event for everyone to participate in. Like a “Back-to-College” happy hour where we all wore our college shirts (I was sure happy when mine still fit after all these years!) Other events included a tropical luau complete with grass skirts, a Popsicle snack cart for the dog days of summer and a World Cup physical challenge.
While this was happening at our headquarters in New York, similar exchanges were happening in offices across North America; including painting classes, book clubs, ping pong tournaments, and dare I say, bars in common areas for people across teams to congregate.
Now this alone won’t create an environment where people thrive.
We’ve gone a little deeper by piloting and then rolling out “personal brand plans” where each individual team member maps out how they want to position themselves and how they want their own personal brand to grow. They individually set goals based on their asset inventory and gap analysis, no small feat. It’s become a useful tool to guide people’s careers and to put them in the driver’s seat.
All of this has to be supported by the foundational elements of transparency, authenticity and a constant flow of information.
These elements are givens these days, but if you can create an environment where people really know each other, ultimately build trust with each other, and then have a personal plan for growth … then you have a winning formula for success
And if they themselves are personally the ones to create it, then the participation will be all the better.
The agency just may even become a “Best Place to Work.”