A unique formula around culture, people, work and client success – underpinned by a strong set of values – has been critical to the success and continued revenue growth of brand and marketing agency Zinc, according to its managing director Peter Cleary.

The business employs a number of strategies and processes to support this formula internally, including a structured and documented “people” model.

This is used to out the lifecycle of team members, from recruitment and induction, training and development and regular reviews to assess progress on both a personal and professional development, through to recognition and reward and adapting roles to suit the future needs or team members and the organisation.

Recruitment is a particularly important focus for Zinc, and Cleary said the firm has a stated goal to attract, develop and retain the best people.

“We look for people who hold similar values so that they will be the best fit for the Zinc team,” he said.

“As well as our team values, we look for honesty, humility, and enthusiasm in prospective new employees.

“Cultural fit is more important to us – as important as having the required skills and qualification. We can train for these, but it’s hard to train character,” he said.

“We look for people who hold similar values so that they will be the best fit for the Zinc team”

Zinc, which employs 120 people in nine offices across five countries, was recently recognised in the 2016 Best Places to Work Study and Cleary said this was a culmination of its focus on people strategy.

“Our approach to our people has also promoted greater team member involvement and allowed for our continued revenue growth and expansion into new services and markets,” said Cleary, who explained that Zinc has a number of key plans for business growth in the coming years.

These include further International expansion into new overseas markets, creating a point of difference through adding value by way of innovation, creative and digital solutions, and further diversification and evolution of Zinc’s service and product offering.

There are a number of ways in which HR in the business helps enable, drive and realise commercial value and goals, and Cleary said this is best summed up as “Great culture = great people. Great people = great work. Great work = happy clients. Happy clients = Zinc success.”

“Our internal ambition is ‘We put people first so that great things follow,’” said Cleary.

“We have a very structured introduction into the business for every new person starting – no matter what the role is within the organisation.”

Orientation, for example, runs for one to two weeks and is exactly the same for all team members.

Orientation is comprised of a number of casual and high-level introductions to all areas of the business.

“They meet everyone they need to know – we don’t leave it to chance,” he said.

“The new team member will get the opportunity to meet all team members, and understand how their roles work to achieve the goals of the business.”

This orientation includes supply partner visits and connection with interstate and international members.

“The induction process is a deep dive into the inner workings of the business with real focus on the culture and values”

“We understand that starting a new role can be overwhelming, so orientation is designed to ease them into Zinc and give them a high level understanding of Zinc and how their role fits into the business,” he said.

The next stage of the process is induction, which runs for two weeks to six months.

Sydney team members are flown down to Zinc’s heave office in Melbourne, and Cleary said this is a good opportunity to put faces to names rather than just meeting people over the phone.

“The induction process is a deep dive into the inner workings of the business with real focus on the culture and values, and for new team members to then really focus on their specific role and understand what they need to do and the tools they have to do it with,” said Cleary.

By the end of induction period all team members are expected to have a consistent and similar level of competence and basic knowledge.

“Induction is designed to introduce the new team member into the responsibilities of their role as well as being provided with a deeper understanding of what the other areas of the business do, and how their role interacts with them,” he said.

“It also focuses on a deeper understanding of our values, what these actually mean day to day (the behaviours) and why culture is so important.

“A lot of storytelling goes on in this stage. This induction process is obviously unique to each position and therefore specifically tailored to suit them.

“After six months we have normally had enough time to understand and see each team member’s strengths and weaknesses”

“The induction process works really well, linking team members closely with their own teams and their support teams and ensuring they are clear on what is expected of them, and what resources are available to them.”

At the end of the six month period, all team members sit with their team leader and the CEO to discuss, test and confirm the expected level of competence and knowledge of the business.

At about the 5-6 month mark, the new team member is also introduced into the concept of personal and professional development planning.

“This is where we encourage each team member to think about development areas in both their personal and professional lives and the team leader will support these objectives,” said Cleary.

“After six months we have normally had enough time to understand and see each team member’s strengths and weaknesses – and as an organisation we very much focus on developing the strengths.”

Zinc also runs an “accelerate training program” which approaches development needs on a number of levels, with individual, team-based or more business, theory-based training.

This program has been developed specifically to ensure team members have all the education they need to do their jobs well – and in addition – all the opportunity they need to fulfil their professional and personal development plans, said Cleary.

“It also provides a level of challenge for team members – which is something we have found is critical to maintain high levels of engagement,” he said.

“Cultural fit is more important to us – as important as having the required skills and qualification. We can train for these, but it’s hard to train character”

Zinc also offers team members access to its “Advantage benefits” which focus on the “mind, body and soul” health of its people, and Cleary said these assist in attracting, maintaining and retaining talent in the business.

Benefits include:

  • Profit pool (everyone shares in the profits made by the business)
  • Birthday leave off
  • Lunch provided to the team
  • Summer hours (Friday early marks)
  • Cake day (to celebrate team events & Birthdays)
  • Drinks fridges (available anytime)
  • Breakfast daily
  • Barista coffee
  • Financial planning/mortgage broking
  • Take a day off (TADO) – for extra time off for the months outside of those with public holidays
  • Zinc leave (additional leave based on tenure)
  • Sabbatical leave (a paid and funded week off to pursue a long-held dream to do something special)
  • Friday night drinks and nibbles
  • Team buys (access to our group buying power for individuals to enjoy)
  • Zinc help out (days off to help out those less fortunate/charity work)
  • ZincFit (including onsite gymnasium, PT trainer, boxing trainer, yoga instructor, pilates instructor and nutritionist)
  • Mental health hotline & internal seminars
  • ZincFit monthly newsletters including articles from all suppliers and trainers

Image: supplied