Being named to Ad Age’s 2022 Best Places to Work is something to be proud of. Only 50 companies get to have that honor and only 25 in the “200 employees or less” category. The fact that we ranked #6 in this latter group is especially gratifying considering the challenges we’ve all faced this past year.
So why Firehouse? What did we do that got the attention of Ad Age and, more importantly, made the people who work here feel special? We thought we’d share our approach and the decisions we made over the past year in case you find something meaningful to use in your organization.
We’ll start by saying that we’ve always offered a surprising ensemble of benefits and perks for a shop our size. Things like generous paid time off, subsidized gym memberships, education/skills training reimbursement and more. That’s because when it comes to personnel decisions Firehouse has always tried to use a people-first rather than company-first approach.
So, when the world changed due to COVID we didn’t react immediately—we listened. We believe if you truly listen, your team will tell you what they need to navigate the most difficult of times. What we heard was that our team needed flexibility...our team needed understanding...our team needed to come back together in a way that made everyone feel safe...our team needed additional help to protect their mental health and wellbeing.
Despite the fact that revenues were challenging, when we acted, we invested in our people. We gave them the time off they needed. We covered out-of-pocket costs for mental health care. We made our workspace safer. We provided stipends and resources to improve their home workspaces. We overhauled our parental leave to make having and taking care of families easier in these really difficult times. Lastly, when we returned to the office, we created a hybrid work week that consisted of three days in the office and two work-from-home. Our aim was to help them as people, not just employees.
In addition to investing in our people, we also sharply focused on our business. We invested an incredible amount of time and energy sharpening our positioning, our point of difference and our growth strategy. A healthy company means stability for the folks who work here. To that end, because our people are also employees, we focused on sharpening and developing career paths and articulating our shared values and providing greater transparency to everyone regarding the agency’s goals and ambitions. This made Firehouse a place where everyone clearly understands how to do their jobs, how to grow their careers and the impact their efforts have on the agency at-large.
At the end of the day, most of the steps we’ve taken feel very authentic to Firehouse and the culture we’ve created. While appreciated by the people who work here, it’s doubtful that any of it was a surprise. It all just felt like the right things to do.