Three Lessons for Creative Cultures

Three Lessons for Creative Cultures

Camaraderie, collaboration and trust foster inventive, stable teams

Of all realms of the business world, advertising likely enjoys the reputation for being the most fun. It's full of people passionate about the industry, enamored with the creative process and proud of their ability to boost the business of their clients. Below the surface, though, lie significant human resources challenges. Despite a popular image sprinkled with free cocktails to woo clients or brainstorming sessions over a Foosball table, a recent studyreported that advertising agencies lost 25 percent of their talent last year. Not only is demand high for seasoned marketing professionals, the research suggests that those who leave the field often report dissatisfaction with their management and lackluster opportunities for internal advancement.

With yearly turnover averaging just 12.5 percent, our recently announced list of the Best Workplaces in Advertising & Marketing can offer some meaningful insight into keeping these professionals happy. At the same time, three traits they have in common enhance cross-functional collaboration and the innovative thinking that businesses in any industry need to succeed:

1. The Best Workplaces build friendships.

Ninety-five percent of employees at companies on the list report a caring work environment, helped in no small part by the ample chances they have to get to know one another. Standup comedy classes, for example, have become a tradition for teams at Peppercomm. Likewise, Fluent treats its people to monthly celebrations that have included sunset sailing, Oktoberfest libations and bubble soccer. Successful firms don't pay for these types of activities just to endear their employees to the organization. These investments pay off through the business ideas and productive relationships created when people can connect outside their formal roles at work.

2. Their people work well together.

In fact, nearly all employees surveyed at the Best Workplaces in Advertising & Marketing report that they can count on their peers to cooperate. More than nine in 10 also say their organizations avoid the office politics that can destroy collaboration, creative or otherwise.

Giving employees a stake in the company's overall success is one way to create this level of unity, asCommunications Strategy Group demonstrates with profit sharing tied to individual practice areas. The freedom to try new things without fear of failure is another trait of the Best Workplaces that helps encourage trust among colleagues. At Horizon Media, teams can petition for start-up funding, development resources and dedicated time during the workweek to pursue ideas as part of an in-house business incubator. Overall, one employee characterizes the firm this way: "New York agencies are often assumed to have a certain type of office culture, where the employees are always stressed, with a fair amount of competition between them. At Horizon, I feel like absolutely none of that exists."

3. They trust their leaders.

When it comes to employees feeling their leaders are trustworthy, survey results at the Best Workplaces speak for themselves:

  • 90 percent of their employees say they can count on their leaders to handle promotions fairly.
  • 85 percent say they trust that their organization will turn to layoffs only as a last resort.
  • 89 percent say management keeps them informed about important issues and changes.
  • 99 percent agree that their managers are good at assigning and coordinating people.
In turn, these employees bring their best to work every day. Fully 96 percent of staffers at the leading companies say their peers are willing to give extra to get the job done. In an industry that depends on creative collaboration, the Best Workplaces prove yet again that camaraderie and trust go a long way.

What about you and your workplace? What do you do in your company to inspire creativity?

Ed Frauenheim and Kim Peters are Director of Research and Content and Executive Vice President, respectively, at Great Place to Work.

Explore all of our Best Workplaces lists here.