Best Places to Work

How Ad Age Picked Its Best Places to Work 2011

The Top 30 Spots to Be Plying Your Trade, as Selected by Employees, Employers in Our Second-Annual Survey

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Advertising is a tough business. Whether you're client-side, agency-side or in the media, these are uneasy times economically. The landscape of what you do, how you do it and even who you do it for is rapidly evolving around us. Perhaps that challenge is part of the reason so many love it so much.

Ad Age 's second annual Best Places to Work in Marketing & Media list celebrates 30 firms. Some have legendary names like Leo Burnett and some aim to be a new generation of legends. These companies are combining benefits and culture to create environments for workers to thrive.

Sterling Cooper Draper Price might be the best place for a Don Draper but maybe not so much for a Peggy Olson . Because everyone's different, we turned to New York-based Buck Consultants to help us level the playing field. With nearly a century of experience in employee and human-resource consulting, Buck was able to draft two surveys to help us find the companies with the best benefits and most-engaged employees. We used employee engagement as a measure that 's proven to work across industries and pay grades. So what is engagement? Employee engagement is an indicator of the degree to which employees feel involved and committed to their work. Key factors include open and transparent management, clear communication of company goals and obvious paths to promotion.

Any agency, media owner or marketer with more than 50 full-time employees was eligible. There was no cost to the companies to participate in the program.

Buck Consultants developed a survey for the employer and the employees. The employer survey contained 69 questions and the employee survey comprised 50 questions covering 13 topics. Nearly 150 companies applied and nearly 90 completed both rounds. Almost 12,000 employees took the survey. The employer portion focused on quantitative issues about pay, promotions, health care and other benefits, hiring practices and more. The employee survey measured aspects of the workplace environment that contribute to an engaged staff, including issues such as fairness of pay, vacation time, relationships with management and co-workers, career development and other workplace issues.

Providing great benefits only gets a company so far if no one likes working there, so we weighted the employee survey results as 60% of the overall score. That said, some companies had such great benefits that they were able to pull up less-awesome employee scores, and some companies with employees that were off-the-charts happy fell out of the top 30 due to low scores on the workplace conditions side.

You're in luck. We're changing the timing of the program, so if you want to apply for 2012, you can do so online right now at

Want to work for one of these companies? You can use our Job Finder. Pick three attributes that are most important to you, (e.g. culture, compensation and career development) and we'll tell you which three Best Places to Work scored highest on those parts of the survey. We'll even give you a link to the company's career page.

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