Campaign Best Places to Work 2021: Top 5 medium companies

It's third time lucky for Somo as it tops the rankings having finished in second place for the past two years.

Somo
Somo

1. Somo

Digital product agency, London 
UK employees: 82 | Female: 26 | Male: 56 
Most popular benefit: Culture of "leaning in"

Somo credits its “humane approach” to work and its people for making it a top place to work. Ranked second in Campaign’s Best Places to Work for medium-sized companies for the past two years, Somo has topped the list this year, and achieved fourth place overall. 

While the agency hasn’t been able to offer its annual ski trip, free food and weekly massages during the pandemic, it has provided a £200 cash allowance for WFH set-up, flexible hours to help Somo staff juggle home-schooling and working and regular mental health check-ins. The agency’s movie nights and ski or summer trips changed to virtual escape rooms, wine-tasting and quizzes, and it found another way to relieve stress: Quarantine Craft, where teams took part in online Minecraft sessions to create the most flamboyant homes, MTV Cribs-style.  

2. Octopus Group

B2B tech marketing agency, London 
UK employees: 55 | Female: 30 | Male: 25
Most popular benefit: Social package

Committed to providing employees with the social benefits of work, even during the pandemic, Octopus Group switched its efforts to online delivery. There was a Huggme gift service, including movies, vouchers, cupcakes and hampers, as well as virtual wellbeing days, with staff encouraged to find time for meditation and yoga. 

It also facilitated walk-and-talk meetings, break boundaries, and Covid-secure local meet-ups outside for employees who live near each other. It blocked out all calendars from 12.30pm to 2pm, to ensure everyone is free to eat a proper lunch and get away from their desk. And it removed standard working hours, as well as supporting employees to return to overseas homes and work in different time zones where needed.

3. RocketMill

Ad agency, Brighton 
UK employees: 84 | Female: 29 | Male: 55 
Most popular benefit: Profit share, paid on a quarterly basis

From their first day at the agency, each RocketMill employee works to a flexible contract. This enables them to set their own daily hours, providing options for longer lunches, early finishes and the capacity to work from home. 

During the pandemic, RocketMill made and delivered care packages to all employees, increased the regularity of team meetings and allowed employees to tweak their hours to enable them to home-school. 

As restrictions ease, employees will be able to book a desk within the office or work from home, according to their needs. This has afforded RocketMill employees more flexibility in their home lives and, in some cases, the option to relocate. 

The agency promised not to furlough any staff, and invested in LinkedIn Learning so that employees could improve their soft skills in preparation for progression into leadership. 

4. Harry’s Grooming (marketing and PR division) 

Marketing and PR department, London 
UK employees: 55 | Female: 25 | Male: 30 
Most popular benefit: £800 a year to spend on learning and development

Harry’s year was filled with regular quizzes, remote get-togethers, including cocktail-making or bingo, daily Slack polls and occasional, surprise treats delivered directly to employees’ doors as a reminder that, despite being apart, the team is “All in, all together” – a company value it strives to live by.

The PR and marketing department’s commitment to mental health support during the pandemic has included scheduled Mental Health Days, while one-to-ones between managers and associates became a channel to discuss how individuals were dealing with the new normal. 

To recognise staff efforts during the initial lockdown, the division awarded a 4% pay increase in July, gave everyone an extra two weeks off over Christmas, a £15 weekly breakfast and lunch allowance, a £170 initial working from home set-up expense allowance, a £30 fan expense allowance in summer, and £400 WFH reimbursement bonus.

5. Journey Further

Performance marketing agency, Leeds 
UK employees: 73 | Female: 32 | Male: 41 
Most popular benefit: Flexible working since 2017

Although WFH was forced upon the industry in 2020, Journey Further has offered flexible working since its January 2017 launch. As a response to the pandemic, it gave all staff £100 to improve their home-working space. Learning is also a key part of the culture at Journey Further, which was ranked fourth in Campaign’s Best Places to Work for medium-sized companies in 2020. Its weekly Learn Together sessions offer employees a chance to share projects they’re working on or discuss something they’re passionate about: topics in 2020 ranged from dyslexia to veganism. 

The agency’s “(Not Just A) Grad Scheme” actively encourages applications from candidates of all backgrounds and ages, no matter their level of experience, from school leavers to those seeking a career change. 

Campaign Best Places to Work 2021 full list | Top 5 large companies | Top 5 small companies 

Editor's note – Harry's Grooming has asked Campaign to clarify its employee benefits are available to all staff. Only the PR & Marketing division is eligible for Campaign's Best Places to Work.

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