5 Critical Elements of Agency Culture

Do the math, and you may find you spend more time interacting with co-workers each week than your family or friends. And we all take our work home with us, even when our task lists are complete.

Your agency culture permeates the personal lives of employees, and impacts most areas of the business especially in talent acquisition and retention, overall job satisfaction and client relations.

Agency culture begins and ends with the character of the people that you employ, and a shared internal drive.

But there are critical things you can do to build and manage a successful culture.

It goes beyond working together as a team. It’s performing as a winning team, and challenging others to push beyond their potential, which doesn’t happen without some bumps and bruises along the way.

Ebbs and flows of agency life are inevitable. It’s the tough times that reveal the true strength and resiliency of your team. This is where a tight-knit culture of openness and inclusion can make the difference between advancement and regression.   

Following are elements to consider:


  • It may be common sense, but also easy to forget. This involves treating employees with kindness and professionalism, showing genuine care and concern, appreciating their feedback, and giving constructive criticism without shying away from the tough conversations when needed. It’s respecting diverse backgrounds, opinions and skill sets, and bringing the best out of your team.
  • Any team can learn to get along, especially during upswings, but teams built on respect can weather hard times and growing pains.
  • The best thing you can do is to demonstrate unwavering respect for employees, clients, partners and yourself. Breed a culture of security, where people know their thoughts count and contributions matter. 

Collaboration + Empowerment

  • Winning teams don’t thrive on falling in line, maintaining the status quo, or simply making it through the season. Great teams know when to come together to find solutions, and when to turn to standout players for guidance, leadership and action.
  • Strong leaders will develop and nurture employees to their utmost abilities, and put them in the roles where they can perform best, achieve personal fulfillment, and contribute to something greater.
  • Give employees the chance to branch out into unknown areas and take risks, always knowing they have the team behind them. Also, find creative ways to give all employees the opportunity to lead an initiative, and set a positive example by playing a support role.   
  • If your leaders work with the mentality of elevating employees far beyond their potential, and maybe even their own individually, you’ll find your agency reaching places you never thought possible.

A Strong Agency Brand

  • A brand is the sum of perceptions and experiences that people, including employees, have with your organization. When you create something to be proud of, and that others admire, you’ll build loyal fans for life. This includes the stability that comes with seeing the impact of their work, and desire to spend a long-term career with the agency.
  • On top of building an organization with a strong reputation, when the time comes, make employees part of brand decisions to get them fully engaged. Also, find fun ways to interact and showcase the brand. For example, at PR 20/20 we offer branded clothing and swag into personnel contracts.

Productive Work Environment & Policies

  • This includes the physical and psychological aspects. Set the stage for efficiency through workspaces, systems and policies that support productivity, creativity and focused attention.
  • Your office space (I use the term loosely in modern times of mobility) needs to have at least three features to accommodate varying levels of productivity preferences and nature of interactions: 1. Personal workspaces 2. Secluded areas to tune out, or conduct private meetings and 3. Common areas for collaboration, socialization and more.
  • Adding the fun stuff (ping pong, bean bag chairs, etc.) is nice, but secondary, and you need to be prepared to remove if it has a negative effect.
  • Consider workspace and mobility when looking at technology, social media and other policies that can either inhibit or support productivity.

Celebrating the Wins

  • Not to get all warm and fuzzy, but employees in good agency cultures feel when their coworkers feel. You will face challenges, sometimes battles, and mourn losses together. You also have the opportunity to celebrate the good times, so make focused efforts to live them up.
  • You’re going through it together, so keep your inside jokes sacred, and make room in your lives for spending time together outside of the office. Keep the stories and legends going as new employees join the force, and take measures to make them feel immediately welcome.
  • In a strong culture, when employees might forget what they’re working for or toward, just looking at the people around them can keep motivation and morale high.  

For What it’s Worth

You can judge your culture by how people feel as they prepare to come in each day, and how they feel when they leave each day.

Build a good one and you’ll have employees for the long haul and friends for life.  

There are some great nuggets in the recent Fast Company post, Culture Isn’t Costly. What can you add to the mix?

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