2011 Best Companies: Professional Services & Communications

Young and agile communications companies are familiar with the challenges of keeping a Gen-Y staff engaged. Their secret: building loyalty outside of the office.

6S Marketing | BCBusiness
At 6S Marketing, weekly meetings are a forum to discuss operational details and recognize staff.

Young and agile communications companies are familiar with the challenges of keeping a Gen-Y staff engaged. Their secret: building loyalty outside of the office.

Young and restless: that’s one way to describe the staff that fuel companies in the professional services and communications sector. At Benefits by Design Inc. (BBD), a custom benefit program administrator, for example, the median age of employees is 33. At 6S Marketing Inc., a new-media communications agency, the only people over 30 are the two founders, Chris Breikss and John Blown. Keeping this youthful workforce motivated means finding that perfect blend of party and professional. 

In the 6S offices, you’ll find staff hanging out in the newly renovated kitchen with a restaurant-style booth, cable TV and plenty of organic produce and coffee. Or they could be kicking back and playing Nintendo Wii games over a Red Bull from the dedicated Red Bull fridge. A popular pastime is dressing up the office dog Kiya; the Bichon-Shih Tzu cross has been transformed into a Santa, a lobster and Minnie Mouse. Staff outings have included zip-trekking, go-carting and ski retreats in Whistler. 

Services & Communications

1. 6S Marketing Inc.

2. Habañero Consulting Group Inc.

3. Chemistry Consulting Group Inc.

4. Benefits by Design Inc.

5. Cobra Integrated 
Systems Ltd.

Marketing manager Kelly Robertson describes the culture at 6S: “We have at least one company event each month. We are a very tight group of people, and we actually hang out quite a bit outside of work as well.” 

Kim Macey, COO at BBD, also cites the value of external relationships: “A lot of our staff are friends outside of work. So there is a strong connection and sharing of both personal and professional milestones throughout our organization.” 

Being open to non-traditional work arrangements is another way of keeping staff happy. Macey points out that “80 per cent of our employees work a nine-day fortnight schedule and about 20 per cent of our employees telecommute.” The company also allows for personal time (regardless of whether it’s to take a toddler to a kids’ concert or a dog to the vet). “Because we do believe it’s important for everyone to balance their life and their work, we offer time in lieu, health and wellness subsidies, professional development . . . and, of course, we have benefits.” 

All the benefits and good times won’t keep the young and restless happy unless they are also developing professionally. This is where inspiring leaders come in. To assemble teams, 6S and BBD both host regular staff meetings where operational details are disclosed to nurture trust and create a culture of transparency. At 6S, the mandatory Wednesday meetings are held in the round, and each person’s achievements are acknowledged. Robertson is emphatic about the critical role 6S’s co-founders play in building loyalty: “They make a point of bonding with all of the employees. They will take them out to lunch, one on one, and really work with them when they first come on board to make sure that they fit in with everything.”

For these companies, personal attention and plenty of perks – that’s how the young and restless become the driven and devoted.
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