We were lucky enough to pick up a third ‘best employer’ award in less than a year at last weeks inaugural Gatwick Diamond Business Awards. Adding to the two awards we picked up in 2008, it has been fantastic to be recognised for our hard work.
But why do we do it? Why do we spend so much time (and money!) in making Leapfrogg a great place to work? Why is it particularly relevant to a digital marketing agency?
Well, first a little background. Going back twenty or thirty years, businesses operated with the intention of delivering a product to their target market, often at the expense of the workforce who were viewed as the means to an end; a commodity, a tool if you like. This probably stems in part from the growth in industries at the turn of the twentieth century, such as manufacturing and mining where working conditions were poor, the rights of workers almost non-existent and therefore a prevalent attitude in employers that workers were simply a disposable commodity.
Times have changed an awful lot. The gradual decline of manufacturing and related industries in the UK, the growth in the services sector and changes to legislation designed to protect workers has seen an ’employee-centric’ model grow in popularity. Business owners have come to realise that successful companies have happy employees at their heart, who feel committed and motivated to deliver according to the their own goals and those of the organisation.
When Leapfrogg started out in 2003 we made it our mission to deliver competitively priced search engine optimisation consultancy (we do an awful lot more now of course!), along with an exceptional level of service. But we realised this could only be achieved by creating a workforce sharing our ideals. Our view is that by getting our house in order, particularly where our employees are concerned, everything else (to a certain degree) will take care of itself…and through the years we have been proven correct.
So in a digital marketing environment like ours, why is it particularly important to look after staff and therefore retain them?
- Because the digital marketing industry is still in its infancy, and our schools and universities have been slow in incorporating specific training into their curriculums, there is a lack of skilled workers in the search and digital marketing industry. Therefore, once we have skilled people under our roof we want to keep them!
- We operate in a competitive market, especially here in Brighton where there is a large number of search, social media and digital agencies. Failure to reward and nurture staff will see them go elsewhere
- More and more companies are realising the importance of digital marketing and therefore they are employing in-house teams. In terms of recruitment, these businesses represent competition
- As an agency we do not offer anything tangible. We are not creating a product as such. Instead, we offer help, advice and expertise. If an employee walks away, ‘our product’ goes with them. As money and time is invested in staff training and development we simply cannot afford to lose the intellectual property we have acquired and nurtured
To retain our staff we offer a range of benefits including competitive salaries, bonuses, flexi-time, ‘duvet days’ and regular days out. But also by being transparent with the success of the business and involving employees in key decisions, they are viewed as stakeholders in the business leading to a sense of ownership. From a clients perspective this leads to staff who are motivated to deliver great work leading to a high client retention rate, increased revenues and overall business success. I am somewhat amazed that so few companies share the same philosophy. The number of horror stories I hear from friends and family about their treatment at the hands of their employers astounds me. I therefore wonder how many of these companies will still be here come the end of 2009 through their failure to realise that success in business must be driven from within.
So the next time you see Leapfrogg nominated for an employer award (goodness that is rather presumptuous of me!), I hope you will understand just why we place so much emphasis on our staff and their happiness.