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Best Place to Work

By The Drum | Administrator

May 14, 2002 | 9 min read

Full Table of Results

Trying to name the Best Place to Work is rather like trying to name the Best Place to Live, the Best Place to Eat or the Best Place to Go on Holiday.

Obviously, everyone has a different idea of what ‘Best’ actually means, depending upon the context. To some, it will mean the place with the lowest land prices, to others it will be the place with the hottest weather, while to somebody else it will mean the place you get the biggest portion of chips for the smallest amount of money.

However, what The Drum set about identifying in this review were the individual marketing services agencies that offer their members of staff the most comfortable, stable and forward-thinking working environment combined with the most appropriate rewards for a job well done.

It perhaps goes without saying that this was a monumental task in a sector that employs thousands of the 100,000 Scots who work in the Scottish creative industries, but more than 300 people working in advertising, design, public relations and new media agencies across Scotland took part in the research and for their honesty we are eternally grateful.

So, how did we go about identifying the Best Places to Work? A good question and one which will take some explaining, so please concentrate.

Due to the high number of people we needed to get involved in the research, we decided it would not be practical to send out hundreds of printed questionnaires, so instead we decided to send the questionnaire out via e-mail. We initially contacted every managing director or agency boss listed on The Drum’s yearbook database. We asked them to supply an e-mail address for every member of their staff in order for us to send the extensive questionnaire to them and to ensure that they could answer it confidentially, without their boss getting the opportunity to have a quick look before it was faxed back to us.

The questionnaires were sent out and respondents were asked to rate a number of statements about their organisation with a score of between 1 and 5. The statements can be seen listed in the panel on the right-hand side of the next page and a rating of 5 meant that the respondent ‘Agreed Strongly’ with the statement, while a rating of 1 meant that they ‘Disagreed Strongly’ with the statement.

Once all the questionnaires were returned, we set about calculating an average score for every agency in the six following criteria: Perception of the Organisation, Job Satisfaction, Internal Communication and Teamwork, Recognition and Reward, Confidence in Leadership and Overall Commitment. The higher the average score out of a top score of 5, the better the rating for the company in that category. We then calculated an overall average across all the criteria to reach an overall average score for every agency that took part in the research.

However, we decided that it is impossible to compare an agency that employs five people with one that employs 70 people, because the working culture is so markedly different. It would be rather like comparing a beach holiday in Portobello with a skiing holiday in Aspen, Colorado. Hence, we split the agencies up into three groups: those agencies employing less than 10 staff, those employing between 10 and 20 staff and those employing upwards of 21 staff, in order to ensure that like was being compared with like.

Overall Winners

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but the question remains, the other side of what?

Well, after our research, it appears that the Glasgow-based design consultancy Keywest, Edinburgh-based design consultancy Whitespace and PR consultancy Weber Shandwick, which has offices in both cities, all know the answer to that very question.

The three companies finished top of their respective leagues to be named the Best Agencies to Work at in Scotland.

However, there was very little in it, with Weber Shandwick only just nudging out KLP Euro RSCG to take the title amongst the larger agencies.

The reasons for Weber Shandwick’s win, according to staff, is the management’s openness and a first-class internal communications policy that means all staff are aware of what is going on in the company and all are involved in decisions. The management was also praised for being fair and investing in the training of staff.

One staff member said: “Weber Shandwick is the first consultancy I have worked for at which I feel strongly that there are genuine opportunities for structured career development and for getting involved with the running of the company.

“Opportunities are there to be grasped and all staff are invited to have their say in the innovative business excellence programme, which sees us all taking decisions and developing ideas relating to the running of our company and the drive to reach our business and personal goals, which are reviewed regularly.”

Primarily, according to staff at KLP, the reasons for its success in the ‘keeping staff happy’ stakes lie in the management’s ability to keep the working environment a fun one to be in whilst, at the same time, ensuring that standards are consistently high, which means staff get the opportunity to work with a range of major clients.

One staff member said: “Being grown up has never really suited me. But working at KLP gives me the rare opportunity to be thoroughly professional whilst, at the same time, letting the child in me come out to play.”

In the Medium Agencies category, design consultancy Whitespace just managed to edge out internet marketing agency Bigmouthmedia. The consultancy, which employs around 20 staff, was praised for the feeling of freedom throughout the company, which many said was conducive to the creative process.

One staff member commented: “Because of the job I do, I need a bit of freedom to do things and think things through properly and, since I always have this opportunity, it really does make my job that much more enjoyable.”

Keywest, the Glasgow-based design consultancy, threatened to run away with the Small Agencies category, but relative newcomer Hookson managed to hang on to its coat tails to take second spot.

Keywest’s staff incentive programmes, which include prizes for the person voted Employee of the Year, were roundly praised by all its staff.

One Keywest staff member said: “The atmosphere here is friendly. Sickening as it may sound, everyone gets on. The directors are always willing to listen and are dedicated to resolving problems as soon as they arise. There is never the feeling of having to ‘grin and bear it’. With staff incentives such as fresh fruit on Fridays and birthdays off, it’s hard not to recommend this business for Scotland’s Best Place to Work.”

And, with that, we will now look at the winners in the six categories.


Please rate each of the following statements with a

score of 1 – 5, with the scoring criteria being:

5 = I strongly agree

4 = I agree

3 = I neither agree nor disagree

2 = I disagree

1 = I strongly disagree

1.Perception of the Organisation

(a)I believe in what this organisation is trying to accomplish.

(b)I feel I am working for a successful operation.

(c)This organisation cares about its people.

(d)This organisation is a fun place to work.

(e)There is a future for me at this organisation.

(f)I feel a sense of belonging to this organisation.

(g)I am proud to work for this organisation.

(h)This organisation is an equal opportunities employer.

(i)Overall, I am satisfied with the atmosphere and

culture in this organisation.

2. Job Satisfaction

(a)I am clear about my role and responsibilities.

(b)I have the freedom to do my job effectively.

(c)I have the tools and resources to do my job effectively.

(d)I am involved in decisions which effect my job.

(e)My job provides me with challenges.

(f)I can maintain a balance between my

personal and work life.

(g)I am adequately trained by the

organisation to do my job.

(h)I am encouraged to develop and train

by this organisation.

(i)There are opportunities to advance in this


(j)Overall, I am satisfied with the opportunities

open to me at this organisation.

3.Internal Communication and teamwork

(a)All communication is open and honest.

(b)I am kept informed about the organisation.

(c)People in my department work well together.

(d)Communication within my department is good.

(e)I have confidence in the ability of those in my dept.

(f)Different departments work well together.

(g)I get support from others within the organisation.

(h)Overall, I enjoy working with my colleagues.

4.Recognition and Reward

(a)I understand the criteria for my assessment.

(b)My performance is fairly assessed.

(c)The pay and benefits I receive are fair.

(d)I get recognition for doing a good job.

(e)People are promoted on merit at this organisation.

(f)Overall, I feel my contribution is valued.

5.Confidence in Leadership

(a)I have confidence in the leadership of this organisation.

(b)Management acts on ideas from staff.

(c)Management provides a clear picture of where

the company is heading.

(d)My immediate superior treats people with respect.

(e)The feedback I get helps me do a better job.

(f)Overall, this is a well-managed organisation.

6.Overall Commitment and Satisfaction

(a)I am satisfied with my job.

(b)I am committed to this organisation.

(c)This organisation is a fun place to work.


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