When it comes to employees, I often encounter religious organizations and non-profits who have an "us against them" mentality. Rather than creating an environment of creativity and innovation, they believe a culture of domination works better. So for all you religious and non-profits that still try to "manage by fear and respect," here's some highlights from a Wall Street Journal article by Joann Lubin describing the techniques of innovative ad agency "Mother" in the U.K.:
Keeping Clients by Keeping Workers
Unique Efforts to Encourage Employee Loyalty Pay Off For U.K. Ad Shop Mother
By JOANN S. LUBLIN
LONDON — Happy employees make for loyal, profitable customers, studies show. Yet few businesses apply this simple concept well.
Then there's Mother, a small London-based advertising agency known for its plentiful perquisites, strong corporate identity and offbeat ads. That translates into rapid growth and extraordinary employee loyalty. Mother's billings more than tripled between 2002 and last year, to £141 million ($267.1 million), according to Campaign, an industry trade publication.
The firm says fewer than 10% of its 165 employees leave annually — the rate for its United Kingdom rivals is 19%, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising estimates. Quitters often return. Cecilia Dufils, a 36-year-old art director and copywriter, rejoined a year after departing for a Dutch agency in 2001. She says she and her fiancé, another returnee, felt more at home when they came back.
The agency rarely loses important accounts either. Clients that have stayed for most of its 10-year existence include Unilever PLC, Coca-Cola Co. and Orange, the mobile-phone unit of France Télécom SA. They like an ad shop "with a highly motivated, happy work force…because we get better work out of it," says Pippa Dunn, brand marketing director for U.K. Orange.
Too few companies have figured out that connection, says Diane Durkin, president of Loyalty Factor, a Portsmouth, N.H., consulting-and-training concern, and author of the book "The Loyalty Advantage." She urges businesses to offer employees more training and rewards that are "frequent, timely and meaningful to the person."
Paul Rogers, head of the global-organization practice for U.S. consulting firm Bain & Co., says managers undervalue long-term customer relationships because traditional accounting doesn't measure them.
Another explanation: Many bosses don't assess employees based on customer satisfaction. Scott Cawood, a New York organizational-development consultant, suggests judging workers mainly on behavior that "resulted in additional customer loyalty, learning, service or spending."
Mother promotes an egalitarian, fun-loving culture that appeals to employees and clients. There are no private offices at its headquarters. Except for bathrooms, "we don't have any doors in the whole place," notes Mark Waites, a partner who favors blue jeans and flip-flops.
He and his colleagues work from a huge oval table and switch assigned spots roughly twice a month. Perks include a daily £1, or roughly $2, "self-improvement bonus" applicable to gym memberships, yoga classes and the like, as well as two types of weekly massages, free hot lunches, winter ski trip, three-month sabbaticals — plus days off for birthdays and the day after Mother's Day.
Many U.S. ad shops scaled back such extras during a downturn five years ago. By contrast, Mother has introduced perks during industry slowdowns. "Mother goes a bit above and beyond" what U.S. agencies do for their workers, says Amy Hooper, an executive vice president of Talent Zoo, an Atlanta search firm specializing in advertising. "They are hot."
To reinforce Mother's image, employee business cards lack titles, but include a picture of the employee's mother. Mr. Waites has seen the cards posted on clients' walls. An especially popular one depicts a scantily clad former Miss World whose daughter works for the agency.
"Mother is a brand in its own right…that's creative through and through," remarks Orange's Ms. Dunn. A distinct corporate identity attracts creative people and clients who prize innovative advertising, she adds.
Mother employees say clients sometimes show up hours before a meeting because they know the agency team members well and enjoy working beside them.
"The last thing you want to do is for these people to get bored," warns Bain's Mr. Rogers.
Write to Joann S. Lublin at email@example.com
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