What makes an employee happy with their employer? | Connor Broadley

News & Insights | 14th June 2023

What makes an employee happy with their employer?

By Matt Law, Corporate Consultant

Employee Benefits

5 Min Read


Why is one company in an industry better to work for than another? What can an employer do to both retain and recruit the best talent? Sponsored by Connor Broadley, Campaign’s annual Best Places To Work awards look into answering those exact questions with a particular focus on the creative agency world – from advertising and media to PR and design. Entrants from across the UK ask their staff to complete a confidential survey (over 7,500 were submitted this year) and the results are then analysed. From hundreds of businesses a Top 100 best companies to work for list is drawn up, and from there four overall awards are given to one large, medium, small and boutique company.

The data from the survey’s report throws up some fascinating insights for HR and talent professionals, not only in the difference between the scores awarded to companies who made it onto the Top 100 list and those who didn’t, but also on the impact of company size on employee satisfaction.

For years the challenge for many creative companies has been how to retain the strong culture and identity of a start-up as you grow and mature as a business. Size isn’t everything, but interestingly it still plays a significant role in creating positive working environments. This year’s results showed that boutique and small sized companies outscored their medium and large-sized counterparts across all of the survey’s categories, from culture, leadership and training, to mentoring, role satisfaction and internal communication.

As you’d expect, those on the Top 100 list outscored the companies who didn’t make the cut with higher positive response percentages – the average difference across the survey categories being 5%. However, there was one notable exception – in the ‘Pay and Benefits’ section this gap (in favour of the Top 100) rose to 10%. For Boutique and Small sized companies it rose even higher, to 14% and 17% respectively.

If the report identified one battleground where employers could make a real difference therefore, it appears to be in the benefits packages they offer to their staff. It’s worth taking a closer look at some of the key statistics to shed light on this finding, and at some of the benefits solutions that could help raise company scores.

Boutique employers (15-24 employees):

Here, healthcare provision proved decisive. Companies in the Top 100 rankings scored an impressive average of 86% when it came to their employee satisfaction with healthcare coverage, compared to agencies finishing outside of the Top 100 achieving an average of just 70%. This substantial difference emphasises the positive impact that comprehensive private healthcare has on employee satisfaction. This is gaining importance with the ever-mounting pressures on the NHS, contributing to long waiting times, especially for treatment that is not deemed urgent. Historically this is a benefit that was seen as a ‘luxury’, now though, we’re seeing it treated as a necessity, both for employers keen to keep talent fit and healthy, and for employees increasingly considering it an expected benefit.

Small employers (25-49 employees):

Many agencies in this bracket fall into the growth stage of their journey, where winning large accounts can mean the need to upscale quickly. Strong benefits packages here are a key ingredient to successful recruitment. Worryingly though for small employers who didn’t make the Top 100, ‘Pay and Benefits’ received the lowest average score across all survey categories at 67%. One trend spotted within this data is the lack of satisfaction with day-to-day wellbeing benefits, particularly vision care and dental. This can be addressed quickly though, with low-cost solutions such as cash plans and dental schemes readily available, both benefits encouraging employees to proactively manage their wellbeing and can save employer administration headaches compared to other solutions, such as an internal wellbeing fund.

Medium employers (50-149 employees):

For medium-sized companies looking to make it into the Top 100, the company pension scheme is definitely an area worth reviewing. At 75% the score for ‘I’m satisfied with the company pension scheme’ was below the ‘all company sizes’ average. Top 100 small companies fared the best at 88%. Pension competitiveness is typically assessed through the combination of contribution structure, engagement and returns; however, sustainability and ethical investing are now being talked about more often and whether company plans align with employees’ own personal values. We’re finding that more agencies are reviewing with their pension on this point, assessing the current investment setup and alternative options to make available to employees.

Large employers (150 or more employees):

Large companies in the Top 100 performed well in the employee benefits domain. For example, in the dental benefits category, an average satisfaction score of 74% was achieved, while those outside the Top 100 scored just 59%. This highlights the significance of dental benefits which are taking on even more importance in the face of ever-increasing dental treatment costs, compounded by the difficulties in securing an NHS dentist.  Dental insurance is sometimes overlooked but it is one benefit that all employees should be able to financially benefit from.

Communicating benefits

It is not uncommon for employees to misunderstand their benefits, or worse, be unaware of the total benefits package available to them. Ironically, for companies in the communications business, a lack of communication internally can negatively impact on employee satisfaction. Undoubtedly some companies will have missed out on a Top 100 spot because of this simple oversight.

There’s little point investing in a comprehensive benefits package unless it is underpinned by an effective engagement strategy, and we would urge agencies to assess how they communicate to employees as a priority. This should naturally include a new joiner’s onboarding process and benefits literature being shared and available to staff, but also, and ideally, wellbeing days, benefit platforms and annual reward statements.

Unlocking the potential of employee benefits

The findings of this year’s Campaign Best Places To Work survey reveal the critical role that employee benefits play in shaping today’s workforce. The ‘Pay and Benefits’ section demonstrated a significant disparity between agencies within and outside the Top 100 rankings. Whilst there are of course critical decisions for agencies to consider outside of employee benefits, it is clear that they do have the potential to be a powerful driving force behind employee satisfaction, engagement, and ultimately, a company’s success.

At Connor Broadley we’re proud to have sponsored the awards event but also to have been Campaign’s partner for its Best Places To Work activity across the year.

To find out more about any of the above, or how we could help in reviewing or managing your own company benefits programmes, please contact us at: teambc@connorbroadley.co.uk