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Best Places to Work 2010

Encouraging Individuality Keeps BGT Staff Locked In

Few Employees Ever Leave This Agency, Thanks to an Emphasis on Personal Growth, Sharing Knowledge and Great Benefits

By Published on . 2

YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- BGT Partners may not be the first job for its employees, but for many it is the last. The Miami-headquartered interactive marketing agency has the mantra "Trade your job for a career" -- and maintains a nearly 100% retention rate.

'Everyone is involved from the beginning.' -- BGT partner, VP-Global Strategy Andrea Fishman
'Everyone is involved from the beginning.' -- BGT partner, VP-Global Strategy Andrea Fishman
BGT PARTNERS
LOCATION: Headquartered in Miami, with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York

EMPLOYEES: 150

GIVING BACK: Donates $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every new Facebook "like" of the agency. Also partners with Junior Achievement and donates to causes including Special Olympics, Chicago Cares, Revlon Walk for Women, March of Dimes and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Recently instituted an environmentally friendly office infrastructure to reduce the agency's carbon footprint.

"We're usually not the first or even second agency they've worked at," said David Clarke, co-founder and managing partner at BGT. "We have a more mature and experienced staff that has seen how other agencies work. It's not about the millions of dollars, it's about customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction."

The agency has a flat management structure and open offices to encourage sharing of experience and knowledge. Any employee with a good idea is encouraged to speak up, and doing so can result in things such as a new job being created, a spot bonus, and/or salary increase for creativity and innovation.

"The entire team wants everyone to succeed," said Tara McGrath, director-professional services for BGT Chicago. Strategist Adam Nussdorfer agreed, adding, "BGT encourages you to take your own initiative. If you find something you are passionate about, they'll give you everything you need to pursue it."

The staff of 150 is made up of employees from around the world -- at least 25 countries -- and adds diversity to the culture and ideation process. The diversity of the client portfolio with "so many interesting clients" is another plus to working at BGT, said Mr. Nussdorfer.

Teams travel back and forth from the bigger office in Miami to the smaller and newer one in Chicago, sharing enthusiasm and talent. The client teams on specific accounts are assembled with a mix of developers, production people and strategists at the beginning of a project. Andrea Fishman, partner-VP of global strategy, said, "It's never a design team that hands off a project to another team. Everyone is involved from the beginning."

Art Expo Fridays are a favorite creative gathering for staffers. The weekly free lunch and a show feature bands, singers, artists and the other talents of employees performing for their peers. Other lunches feature professional-development and educational programs by staffers.

BGT has given bonuses and raises every year since 1996, and covers health care and insurance 100%, Mr. Clarke said.

"When people can come to work and know they're getting tuition reimbursement or health care and life insurance, especially in times like these, it makes them more productive because they're not spending time worrying about it," Ms. Fishman said.

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