The AFR BOSS Best Places to Work recognises organisations that are pioneering new ways of working and pushing the boundaries when it comes to workplace policies and practices. These prestigious awards are underpinned by a rigorous, scientifically-proven methodology outlined here.

For 2020, the list has been split into 10 industry-specific categories. Here are the top five Best Places to Work in the Media and Marketing category.


PHD Media, 320 employees

When PHD Group chief executive officer Mark Jarrett talks about why the Australian arm of the global communications media and buying leviathan is one of the nation’s best places to work, he attributes it to everyone in the company.

“It’s a reflection of everyone in the business and their collective commitment to developing the business, the culture and each other,” Jarrett says.

Jarrett acknowledges a lot of companies tend to mouth platitudes about the importance of their people, but PHD Group’s focus is on developing people as a starting point.

He says it’s about building an environment of trust, and that’s achieved by allowing people to work flexibly and also assisting them learn and grow.

“If you can ensure people are engaged, they bring a lot to our business and clients,” he says.

“We’ve really worked hard on developing a deeper intrinsic understanding of people’s need to grow and develop.”

Sure, the stereotypical view of a media agency is one of hard work interspersed with moments of bacchanalian joy, and Jarrett understands fun has an important role to play, but the key thing is ensuring people flourish in their careers.

The company has embedded a culture of self-leadership and accountability across the business over the last 18 months as it has focused more on its people.

“There has also been a big drive around internal mobility. In advertising, people do tend to move around companies so we’ve focused on identifying talent in the business and ensuring people are promoted and offered opportunities internally,” Jarrett says.

Obviously, COVID-19 changed the dynamic of the business last year and Jarrett says there was a six-week period when everyone was working from home. This slowly changed as lockdowns were eased in different states, but it meant the company could examine a more flexible working policy going forward.

According to Jarrett, 95 per cent of staff have taken up this option but they understand some of the best ways to learn and develop is to be “on the job, in the job”.

“People in service industries like media work best when people are in the office – it promotes ideation and collaboration.

“What we’ve done is implement a policy where everyone has to be in the office three days a week. For those who’ve been in the company for less than four years we’re asking them to work four days in the office. It allows them to be better mentored and to grow,” Jarrett says.

For Jarrett, it’s all about getting the best out of people and assisting them achieve their career goals. He says creating a great place to work is about setting out with a clear purpose and vision of what a company needs to be, and being absolutely committed to that vision.

The upshot is this will wash through to the people because that clarity of purpose will be followed through in how a company develops its people.

“You have to embed the right culture in a business to succeed,” he says.

PHD Media implemented and embedded the concept of self-leadership across the business. This was achieved by implementing a Careers Week, an online tool (Reflektive) to facilitate peer-to-peer recognition and several self-led learning programs such as the PHD Smart Fund, where “high performers are invited to pitch ideas to the business”.

According to Jarrett, the initiatives are about driving employee growth and development in the company.

He says the whole idea of the company has changed over the last 18 months as the company has really focused on driving internal mobility. As such, retention rates in a notoriously high-turnover industry have improved markedly, with a 13 percentage point decrease in staff turnover across 24 months, and internal mobility boosted to 37 per cent annually.

Further, in the last quarter of 2020, 86 per cent of staff agreed with the statement there are “real opportunities for a meaningful career at PHD and the path is clear to me”.

Read the full article at Financial Review Australia