Ad Age Best Places to Work honors a group of companies that figured out how to get the job done in a year when the only place to work may have been the dining room table.
The winners—top companies with 200 or fewer employees and top companies with more than 200 employees—reflect the highest overall numerical scores based on an analysis of questionnaires submitted by employers and survey responses from thousands of their employees.
Winning companies navigated through a remarkable year that included a global pandemic and a deep recession along with calls to address social injustice and take a stand against racism.
From work-from-home stipends to regular business updates to open-floor discussions about diversity and inclusion, top companies went above and beyond to support their employees in tumultuous times.
Ad Age’s scoring system includes six key satisfaction areas: company culture, company environment, employee benefits, employee development, employee engagement and employee perks.
The scoring system factors in the importance of these six key satisfaction areas, an aggregate of each company’s ratings in these key areas and a collective workplace rating to arrive at an overall score.
For the third year, we produced Ad Age Best Places to Work in partnership with Latitude Research, a market research firm. The Best Places competition was open to companies whose primary business is marketing, media, advertising or ad tech. Marketers’ in-house agencies also could participate.
Confidential survey responses submitted by employees demonstrate how winning companies reacted in a year of upheaval.
An employee at one of the Best Places explained steps her company had taken to listen to what staffers had to say about issues of equity and inclusion. “They have hosted multiple virtual open spaces where people could speak about their experiences without being judged,” she said. “We’ve also spoken to our CEO and other executives to discuss the inequalities the minorities at the office have experienced and continue to experience.”
Another employee lauded measures her company had taken amid COVID-19. The company “has been unwavering in its support during the pandemic,” she said. “From ensuring job security to allowing flex hours and providing resources to help manage work from home, their response to this crisis has provided reassurance during a time of mass uncertainty.”
At another top-scoring business, a staffer said his employer “has been extremely supportive providing stipends, wellness time off, regular check-ins and support for working families. [The company] hasn’t made one misstep with the shift to fully remote, which has helped enormously with all the other things going on in the world. It’s enabled us to focus on our family and our clients, which helps our ability to produce the best work for our clients.”
So what distinguishes top performers? Winning companies embrace a culture of caring for their employees. In 2020, these Best Places made a focused effort to maintain that culture amid the global pandemic and the national racial justice movement.
Among key takeaways based on Latitude’s analysis for Ad Age Best Places to Work:
What’s most important to employees: Core employee benefits (fair pay, health insurance, paid time off) are must-haves and have even seen a rise in importance over the past year.
What most affects the workplace ratings: Employees value benefits, but benefits alone don’t translate to a high workplace rating. Instead, company culture and a supportive environment are most likely to be associated with high marks.
“For me, company culture is very important especially now that I am working at home,” one employee explained. “I don’t see my colleagues personally (because of COVID-19), but I feel that I am strongly connected with them. Despite the race and cultural differences, we are united by our strong company’s culture and values. And because of that, I enjoy my work, I understand our goals, and doing my best for the success of the company just comes naturally.”
The good news for employers is that most of the surveyed employees perceive their workplace positively and give their company high marks.
Companies expected a lot from staffers in 2020. But the best employers also stepped up to the challenge.
A young working mother said: “I believe true character comes out when the business and finances are tested, and with COVID, nothing is guaranteed. But leadership took a people-first approach to ensure that employees were supported and did not put profits in front of people. I feel 100% supported from a mental and physical perspective and also as a working mother who had a child at home. … I never had to feel like I was doing a bad job for putting my family first at times. All of the other perks, benefits and career opportunities are great. But I feel that leadership truly cares about my personal and professional well-being, and that is why [the company] is a great place to work.”
In building company culture, Latitude’s analysis found, leaders of top companies already had policies and procedures in place to support employees. In 2020, they just needed to focus on how to manage with the new conditions brought on by COVID-19 and the social justice movement. Winning strategies included:
- Acting swiftly to close offices and keep employees safe.
- Full transparency when communicating with employees about financial prospects, with an emphasis on job security.
- Retraining employees for a rapidly changing way of business.
- Increased commitments to employee health and wellness, including free mental health services and paid time off for participation in civil action.
- Support for parents.
- Focused efforts on diversity and inclusion.
- Re-committing companies to community service.
- Experiments in perks and gifts for remote employees.
- Experiments in maintaining virtual social connections.
While 2020 came with new challenges, the key factors that drive company satisfaction did not change. These factors encompass feelings of support, encouragement, empowerment and purpose—all areas where top-performing companies exceed expectations.
That’s how the best places work.
See what works: Check out Ad Age’s 2021 Best Places to Work Industry Report. To learn more and purchase that report, visit AdAge.com/bptwreports.
|Rank||Company||Business||Percent senior leadership||Percent employees||Top executive|
|3||Goodway Group||Digital agency||16||75||13||70||No||No|
|6||Quicken Loans||In-house agency||25||38||40||47||No||No|
|7||Harmelin Media||Media agency||0||75||24||65||No||Yes|
|8||Horizon Media||Media agency||25||62||35||64||No||No|
|9||3Q Digital||Digital agency||22||47||26||57||No||No|
|13||Viant Technology||Ad tech||31||27||41||40||No||No|
|15||Campbell Ewald||Ad agency||26||50||24||56||No||No|
|16||The Marketing Store||Marketing agency||20||30||24||53||No||Yes|
|19||Carmichael Lynch||Ad agency||20||53||15||66||No||No|
|20||Critical Mass||Digital agency||15||37||41||55||No||Yes|
|21||Havas New York Village||Ad agency||14||53||31||63||No||Yes|
|22||Innocean Worldwide Americas||Ad agency||32||33||41||52||Yes||No|
|23||Digitas Health||Ad agency||6||53||12||61||No||No|
Up to 200 employees
|Rank||Company||Business||Percent senior leadership||Percent employees||Top executive|
|1||Grow Enrollments||Marketing agency||50%||40%||50%||40%||No||No|
|4||Closed Loop||Digital agency||0||40||13||75||No||No|
|5||XX Artists||Digital agency||67||67||68||64||Yes||No|
|6||Marcus Thomas||Ad agency||30||31||15||58||No||No|
|7||High Wide & Handsome||Ad agency||0||25||40||60||No||No|
|8||LinkedIn Creative Studio||In-house agency||0||33||23||54||No||Yes|
|11||Octopus Interactive||Ad tech||33||13||35||27||Yes||No|
|13||Marketing Doctor||Media agency||0||100||18||82||No||Yes|
|14||Mower||Marketing and PR agency||2||50||9||58||No||No|
|16||Night After Night||Marketing and PR agency||22||55||30||64||No||No|
|17||Hanson Dodge||Ad agency||9||33||26||50||No||Yes|
|18||Adjective & Co.||Branding agency||0||60||0||60||No||Yes|
|19||Havas Annex Atlanta||Ad agency||50||30||20||45||No||No|
|22||Soapbox Influence||Digital agency||0||100||25||88||No||Yes|
|23||MAS||Event/experiential marketing agency||75||80||15||57||Yes||Yes|
|24||Digital Remedy||Ad tech||0||25||20||44||No||No|
|25||Cogent World||Event/experiential marketing agency||40||45||40||50||No||No|
Winners reflect the highest overall numerical scores based on an analysis of questionnaires submitted by employers and survey responses from thousands of their employees. Companies wishing to participate submitted entries from June through September 2020.
For the third year, we produced Ad Age Best Places to Work in partnership with Latitude Research, a market research firm.
A summary of Ad Age Best Places to Work 2021 appeared Jan. 11, 2021, on AdAge.com and in the print edition. Reprints are available through Laura Picariello at [email protected].
Want to dig deeper? Check out Ad Age’s 2021 Best Places to Work Industry Report, which synthesizes key learnings from the DNA of top company leaders and their employees. To learn more and purchase that report, visit AdAge.com/bptwreports.
Ad Age Best Places to Work 2021 rankings are based on results from two surveys—a company survey and an employee survey. Ad Age broke the rankings into two groups: top companies with 200 or fewer employees, and top companies with more than 200 employees. Employee size is based on what companies listed on the company survey for full-time employees in 2019.
The company survey captured basic information about a company as well as additional detail so we could analyze what factors set apart those that rank highly as a best place to work.
The employee survey was designed to get at what matters to employees in the workplace and how a company rates on the topics that staffers care about.
Ad Age’s scoring system factors in the importance of six key satisfaction areas, an aggregate of each company’s ratings in those key areas and a collective workplace rating to arrive at an overall score.
The six key satisfaction areas are: company culture, company environment, employee benefits, employee development, employee engagement and employee perks.
To be eligible for Ad Age Best Places to Work 2021, a company must have operated in the marketing, media, advertising or ad tech industry for more than one year; have its headquarters in North America or have a North America headquarters or main office if its world headquarters is outside of North America; and have a minimum of 15 full-time employees.
Want your company to participate in Ad Age Best Places to Work 2022? Email [email protected] to be notified as soon as entries are open.