Location: 18 West 23rd Street, New York, NY
Number of employees: 44
Number of years in business: 4
What they do: Conversation is an integrated communications agency that leverages emerging media with old-school traditional media.
Why they are great: Conversation agency takes a work hard, play hard philosophy. From the orange office walls to the music pumping throughout the office, the space is designed for employees to actually enjoy the space they work in. Pets of any kind are welcome and Winston, the office miniature schnauzer, can be found at almost every meeting.
The agency strives to be inclusive of all employees. One way they demonstrate this is through The Convo Blog (www.theconvoblog.com). Each week, three blogs are posted by a rotation of employees. Staff members can volunteer to write and the content could be about anything from industry trends and new technologies to personal interests and music playlists. “A blog is a necessary part of marketing any company,” says founder Frank O’Brien. “When you’re selecting what to write about, it could be technical things that have to do with the industry, or you could choose to have fun with it. And we kind of go back and forth. The blog is a great representation of our culture and how inclusive it is because it is driven by the team. And before you know it, we have a blog full of great content, which really showcases the culture.”
Employees are welcome to contact senior management about any issues that may arise. Meetings are regularly scheduled; however, employees can speak with senior management anytime, including after hours by phone, email, or even text. O’Brien recently instituted “Keeping It Real,” a system that gives employees the ability to give feedback and make suggestions anonymously. O’Brien then addresses the questions or feedback at weekly agency status meetings.
“I’m part of an executive roundtable and that’s where the idea for Keeping It Real came from,” says O’Brien. “It came from this whole idea of perception versus reality in a growing company. From the get-go, we wanted to make sure that we had transparency when we were five people and we have it now that we’re bordering on 40 to 50. The challenge is, how do you balance perception versus reality so that everybody feels comfortable asking questions, raising issues, and making suggestions? Keeping It Real came out of that challenge that I was having with maintaining culture. The biggest challenge I have as a business owner going forward is making sure that we maintain the culture and the feel that we have today, when we’re three, four, five hundred in size.”
O’Brien says his employee programs have not only helped with employee retention, but also with attracting the right clients. “Year over year, we have close to a hundred percent client retention rate. When we look at the clients that we work with now, they’re clients that really share our culture and appreciate it,” says O’Brien. “So we’re actually attracting clients that share our vision and that appreciate the culture that we have.”
Daria Meoli is the Executive Editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org