It was great reading in the Globe & Mail today that H&K once again been named as one of Canada’s best workplaces for 2010.  While the positive reactions from clients and staff are very gratifying I don’t think people fully understand the significance of being a great workplace.

Our business is about people not brands.  When H&K melted down in the early 90s it was because we lost many of our best and brightest colleagues.  We continued to be the best known agency in the world but that didn’t stop our business from declining or for PR and public affairs practitioners from looking elsewhere for employment opportunities.

Without going through the H&K Canada history – that would be a book not a post – our comeback has been about putting our people first.  I have been known to say in very large new business pitches that “Clients are not my most important priority.  My people are”.  That statement usually generates a surprised look around the table until I ask what the client’s biggest problem is with their current PR agency.  Invariably, the client says, “staff turnover”.  That’s when I say, “it’s my job, is to make sure that the same people involved in the pitch will be with us a year from now”.

The relationship between client satisfaction and the stability of our account teams has been demonstrated by over 10 years of our customer satisfaction measurement.  So working hard to make H&K a better workplace only makes good business sense.  It is amazing how many of my peers in the service industry just don’t get this and love to make ‘hairy chested’ claims about putting their customers first.

So I am pleased to accept congratulations on behalf of the great people who really do the heavy lifting here at H&K day after day.  Being named as one of Canada’s best workplaces is a critical proof point that we have got our business right.