Propellernet – One of the Top Ten Places to Work in the UK.

21 May 2015 | Leave a comment

We caught up with our friends at Propellernet and heard about why they’re in the Top Ten of the Best Places to Work for the third year in the row. Nikki Gatenby, MD, shares their story.


Group Photo 1st Day

What is your approach to keeping and fuelling your people? Who’s involved and how does it work?


Our approach to keeping and fuelling our people permeates every level of Propellernet.  It’s the most important part of what we do – our people are our business. Our approach also goes beyond the agency…

I’m constantly looking for ways to build on our healthy retention rate, fuelling everyone’s talent as far as possible.  Full time, part time, every job role is important. And the more flexibly we aim to work, to encourage a more diverse way of working, the more it’s good to get external inspiration for what we do as well as generating ideas ourselves.

Part of that external inspiration comes from regularly benchmarking ourselves against other great places to work. And lucky for us, The Guardian and the Great Places to Work Institute provide the perfect place for this to happen. Each year we take part in the Great Places to Work Award, along with 6,000 other organisations, represent 11 million employees.

This year we have been voted the 9th Best Place to Work in the UK (small category).

It’s the 3rd year in a row we’ve been in the Top 10 in the UK and I’m pretty stoked. The best thing being that the scores are made up of the views and contributions of everyone in the agency, it’s not an award written by one or two people, all 46 of us played a part – full time, part time, all ages, genders, job roles.

The evaluation behind this award can go a long way to demonstrate our approach to keeping and fuelling our people.

Winning the award is a celebration of being purpose driven; striving to Make Life Better. Whilst living our values of adventure, fun, innovation, creativity & wellbeing; resulting in our team being able to bring their most productive and creative selves to the party each day.

What’s really uplifting is the exceptional halo effect ‘being a great place to work’ has on absolutely every part of our business. Not only are our team connecting and innovating in ways we never imagined, the ripple effect is more like a wave across into our clients businesses.

  • Because we’re a great place, we have low levels of staff turnover (c5%), resulting in consistent points of contact with clients and ever deepening relationships. Every agency works better in partnerships like this, and we’re all reaping the rewards this brings.
  • We instil in our teams to be ‘Stunning Colleagues’, to have a healthy disrespect for job descriptions – by operating outside of them on a regular basis. It makes life more interesting and naturally broadens horizons; we regularly review the shape and structure of our team, playing to peoples strengths and creating space as much as we can for them to grow, both personally and professionally.
  • We live the viewpoint that you must care about people’s dreams. By creating a company that encourages each person to lead full lives and follow their dreams, you can land a full roster of creative, innovative, award winning talent – that makes everyone’s lives better. It’s working. And our teams dreams are part of our business plan, we’re making them come true and our bucket lists are growing.
  • With our team happiness high, our clients feedback their high satisfaction levels. 94% would be extremely happy to recommend us to someone else – in fact a number of the already have and continue to do so.
  • That means we’re not constantly cold pitching. We do pitch, clearly, it keeps us sharp and challenged in specifically pressurised bursts. But not to the level that is detrimental to our current clients and current staff.
  • Being in the position where all that takes priority is new business, is not healthy for anyone. We never have a ‘new customers only’ approach and we certainly don’t talk about second tier clients.  Being a great place to work drives quality and that’s a bar we intend to keep high.
  • And clients are our priority, we structure ourselves around their business – not agency silos. We never talk in separate P&L’s, the focus is on client impact and driving value for them and us collectively. Separate P&L’s drive a wedge through relationships and quality. Which in the end don’t keep the accountants happy either.
  • Our client retention is high, in the every tumultuous business world of course some move on, we send them off with as much love and a bunches of vibrant results as possible – whilst continuing to focus on creating quality for every client we are lucky enough to deliver inspiring search for each day.
  • Because quality is key and scaling what is as near to perfection as possible, is close to our hearts. We’re not in a race to grow, grow, grow at the expense of everyone involved. Our adventure is not about piling on more and more clients and more and more staff, it’s just not the game we’re in. Careful, managed growth, enabling innovation and creativity to thrive are the building blocks for wellbeing and being a great place to work. That’s not going to change.
  • But who said the ‘more, more, more’ approach was the only way to scale? Due to our significant investment in innovation & building technology products, (with no external investment) we are now operating in over 220 cities across the globe with our latest in technology innovation; a tool that enables all marketers show off their hard earned media, beautifully. Check it out, it may just save you a shed load of time and make your work look even more amazing.

So we thank The Guardian and the Great Places to Work Institute for recognising our approach and our value driven for the agency and clients alike.  Being listed as one of the top 10 places to work in the UK, three years in a row, is a BIG deal for us.

And we don’t intend to stop there.  We will continue to strive to Make Life Better for our clients, their customers and our team. In doing so add value to the purpose economy, innovating as we go. Keeping and fuelling our talent as the ultimate output of being a great place to work.

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