2018 Best PR Agencies to Work For, EMEA UK | Holmes Report

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Best Agency to Work For is possibly the only predictive award the Holmes Report gives out. By this, we mean there’s a direct correlation between the agencies on this list and those that take home our biggest honor (often times at some point in the future) — Agency of the Year recognition. That’s, in part, because firms that take culture seriously tend to attract and retain smart and creative talent who, in turn, produce stellar work. It’s a simple formula but one that’s easily overlooked amid the breathless pace and tremendous pressures that are a seemingly inevitable reality of agency life. But this pace is exactly why agencies shouldn’t underestimate the power its culture has on the work its employees produce.

The firms recognized on the rankings include a few holding companies firms, but mostly independents. Some have generous benefits, others prioritize professional development or interesting work that keeps talent engaged. We’re working on an in-depth feature that will more deeply explore the factors that drive employee engagement within our industry. All participating firms can also obtain their own results mapped against either the industry or its competitive set. (For more information on this, see FAQ.) 

Trophies for the top ranking agencies were presented at the 2018 EMEA SABRE Awards in Amsterdam on May 23.

#1 Text 100 (Next 15) 
Last year's #2 climbs to the first-spot this year with a well-rounded package of benefits with the underlying philosophy of treating employees like adults. Among these, Text 100's flexible working is intended to make work fit around people instead of the other way around — so the firm eschews the rigid 9am to 5pm work structure for more fluid working options. Text 100 recently launched an unlimited holiday policy, guiding employees to take time-off when they need it. Other workplace perks include regular social activities, flexible benefits allowance, and hot-desking in which employees choose where they sit based on what they have going on that day.  

From a professional development standpoint, Text 100 offers city swaps and a secondment programme as an opportunity for its employees to experience different cultures and environments and collaborate with others. Employees also develop a career-path planning document that's a framework that allows individuals to customize their careers at Text 100. After six years of service, employees are granted two months of paid sabbatical.

Notably, Text 100 has rolled out mental health initiatives with dedicated mental health first aid ambassadors to spot the signs of people struggling, in addition to mental health campaign on the company blog.
#2 APCO 

#3 Cohn & Wolfe 

#1 Chameleon  (Independent) 

Chameleon makes it onto the list for the first time in the top spot with its combined benefit package that includes career development, interesting client work and an engaged culture. The firm tailors its training and development program to meet the individual goals of each employee — in addition to inspirational events and overseas trips. Strategy sessions have taken place in Athens, Bucharest and Budapest. For 'Training Tuesday' series, the team have watched the London Philharmonic Orchestra rehearse. 

The firm relies on a net promoter score which is currently +78 (anything about +50 is considered excellent.) When it comes to diversity, the management team consists of 2/3 women and 20% of employees are from ethnic minority groups. Meanwhile, 25% of the staff work part-time or flexible hours (an option that open to all) and 15% of profits are allocated for employee bonuses. Employees are given £100 per year to explore new areas of creativity and developmental interests. 

#2 Harvard (Independent) 

#3 Jargon 

#4  CC Group 

#5 Pagefield 

#1 One Philosophy (Independent) 
The Ukraine-based One Philosophy is a multidisciplinary group of communications companies. Founder Nataliya Popovych has made it a priority to grow leaders and talent through investments in employee education and development. The management ask employees about their professional priorities and then tailors its training programs for employees. In response to this, the firm developed "Wednesday Learning Sessions" to be centered on topics beyond communications. Because feedback is also crucial to the firm's culture, the annual evaluations are designed to be honest dialogues rather than a formal management-led activity.  

As part of its CSR commitment, firm started the "Has To Be So" movement for people with disabilities to integrate more fully into life in Ukraine both professionally and socially. One Philosophy also provides employees access to a free library, composed of newest and impactful books and magazines on business, culture, artwork and design, located in the new One Philosophy Space, designed for daily inspiration and collaboration. More casual benefits include additional days-off for birthdays or child’s birthday, work-from-home one day per week and office yoga on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The firm conducts monthly town halls to celebrate achievements, birthdays and other milestones. 

#2 Schwartz (Independent) 

#3 Allison + Partners (MDC)

#4 Fischer Appelt (Independent) 

#5 Canela (Independent)

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