Best Agency to Work For is possibly the only predictive award the Holmes Report gives out. By this, we mean there’s a direct correlation between the agencies on this list and those that take home our biggest honor (often times at some point in the future) — Agency of the Year. That’s, in part, because firms that take culture seriously tend to attract and retain smart and creative talent who, in turn, produce stellar work. It’s a simple formula but one that’s easily overlooked amid the breathless pace and tremendous pressures that are an  inevitable reality of agency life. But this pace is exactly why agencies shouldn’t underestimate the power its culture has on the work its employees produce. 

The firms recognized on the rankings include a few holding companies firms, but mostly independents. Some have generous benefits, others prioritize professional development or interesting work that keeps talent engaged.


#1 Zapwater (Independent)
For the first time, we broke up the boutique category into two groups to reflect the numerous agencies that participate in this competition that are under 30 employees. It's no surprise that Zapwater rose to the top of the new category, considering how successful Zapwater has been in this competition before, in our Agency of the Year ranking and within our SABRE Award competitions. The firm is exceptionally good at maintaining strong business performance, producing high-caliber work, and of course, cultivating an engaged culture.

The firm makes robust investments in its 26 employees with initiatives like ZapU, an ongoing professional development and team building program. ZapYOU is a bi-monthly professional development seminars on topics ranging from sparking creative thinking and managing teams. Approximately 1.75% of gross revenues are spent on staff training and professional development programs that include professional “lunch and learns,” membership in professional organizations and conferences and seminars.

Through its membership in the Travel Lifestyle Network, Zapwater offers staff exchanges with member agencies including week-long exchanges in Australia and Hong Kong. Zapwater has an “open door policy” with all staff, enabling them to receive advice or address any issues from any Zapwater leader in a trusted and welcome environment. All employees are given four weeks vacation/PTO per year. After five years employment, employees earn a fifth week. Other perks include summer hours that close the office at 1pm from mid-May through Labor Day, "bring your pet to work" policy and a 10-year service short sabbatical.