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Small Agency of the Year, Culture, Gold: Connelly Partners

Workplace Attracts Creatives Who Are Talented but 'Have No Ego'

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Connelly Partners
Connelly Partners Credit: Connelly Partners

Connelly Partners' highly social culture is best reflected in the shop's homelike physical office space. The Boston-based firm is designed to resemble a place of residence rather than a place for 9 to 5. With music blaring throughout the open floor plan and neither an enclosed office nor a receptionist in sight, the building's layout forces employees to move around and interact with others in all departments and on all levels.

CEO Steve Connelly said this unique working environment attracts creatives who are talented yet "have no ego." Narcissism is rampant in adland, he said, and the arrogance of self-important marketing professionals is a barrier that distances some agencies from their clients.

For the past 16 years, staffers and their families were invited on three-day bonding trips to Disney World in Florida. These trips ultimately boost productivity back at the office, Mr. Connelly said, because well-acquainted co-workers are more likely to consider each other's ideas and perspectives. And, for those who like their vacation and professional experiences totally separate, employees earn a free trip to Bermuda for themselves and a guest every five years they are with the company.

Connelly Partners also takes good care of younger staffers who are still grappling with student loans. Through participation in a program called Gradifi, it can shave up to $10,000 off an employee's loan tab. That gives them a lot to be thankful for each year at the agency's traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Mr. Connelly said the shop's culture helps it thrive by leading to key client referrals. "Our culture gives us great people and our people get us clients and our clients get us more clients," he said.

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