Counselor Commentary: Fine-Tune Your Workplace

Ad Specialty Companies Struggling To Fill Open Jobs

Andy CohenIn the hunt for top available talent today, flexibility may be the key attraction. Yes, there are many people who are looking for jobs today, but companies in the ad specialty market are still finding it difficult to adequately fill open jobs at growing organizations. It was a common theme during last week’s Counselor Best Places to Work Road Tour, in which three editors traveled the country to meet with a dozen of the companies on this year’s Best Places to Work list.

An oft-heard complaint? We’re growing, but we’re having difficulty finding good people to hire and keep up with our growth. And, these are companies with employee-friendly work environments, where staffers are treated like partners in the business and provided the leeway to succeed on their own. Imagine what the recruiting market is like for traditional companies that believe a decent salary is all they need to provide to receive a motivated and loyal work force?

Appealing to new hires and job candidates today takes more than the bare HR minimum. And, many of Counselor’s Best Places to Work companies are succeeding by offering workplaces that don’t thrive on the typical 9-to-5. Take eCompanyStore (asi/185782), for example. The Alpharetta, GA, Top 40 distributor believes that time off is the greatest benefit it can provide to employees, says Craig Callaway, CEO of the company. “There’s only so much money you can pay people,” says Callaway. “What you can really give them that makes the difference is free time to spend with their families.”

Callaway doesn’t just pay lip service to the idea of work/life balance. eCompanyStore practices what it preaches by awarding all employees, with the exception of highly-commissioned salespeople who are eligible for incentive trips, with 21-day mandatory sabbaticals every five years. That’s in addition to any regular vacation time they’re entitled to. “I want people to take the kind of trip they’d never take in a regular week’s vacation, whether it’s going on a mission trip or tracking down a long-lost second cousin,” Callaway says. “We want people to do life-changing stuff and come back revitalized. That’s really our differentiator here. A lot of companies say they’re family friendly, but we actually are. So people stay here 15, 20 years, and work hard.”

The Road Tour also stopped at SnugZ USA (asi/88060), which offers “recess” once a week, in which employees can take time off from work during the day to go outside and play soccer. The casual and fun vibe of the pick-up game perfectly fits the atmosphere that President & CEO Brandon Mackay seeks. “We work really hard, and if we want to go outside and play for an hour, we will,” says Mackay. Success enables what he calls “earning the right to make choices” – of the fun variety. In addition to “recess,” yoga is taught by one of the company’s sales reps during the day and SnugZ sponsors fun activities like staff softball teams and even a 200-mile relay race. Company-wide Halloween parties and barbecues are annual traditions.

Community and flexibility: It just might be the recipe for workplace success today, especially at a time when new hires aren’t just looking for a job. They’re searching for a place to fit in and call home. If that’s not how you’d describe your company today, you may want to take a “recess” from the traditional approach.