Are “Best Places To Work” Awards Worth It? We Say, “Yes”

August 15, 2013

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Best Places to WorkNext week, Fast Horse will be included in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal “Best Places to Work” awards program for the third year in a row.

We’ll round up a few Ponies and spend a couple of hours in the spotlight to celebrate with fellow honorees.

But once the name tags are peeled off, the trophy is placed on the shelf and the article filed, it’s worth asking: Was it worth it?

Recently, Arik Hanson had an interesting post on his Communications Conversations blog that asks that very question.

Arik is very thoughtful about the communications business, and shows no reluctance to take a strong position. His thought on this issue, if I might paraphrase, is that businesses that really walk the walk on being a great place to work don’t need to toot their own horn in this way. Arik concludes that word on the street is a better reflection of whether a place is a good place to work, so the effort might not be worth it.

So, is it worth it? I put the question to some of my colleagues. Here’s a sampling of their responses:

I think it is important and worth it. These awards and distinctions add to the mystique of the brand.
 
Building a strong agency brand is important and while I agree that the work is the backbone of the agency’s brand, there are many, many other elements that support the brand — the office space, the stellar quality of the staff, the client roster, etc. Winning these awards is just another way to support the Fast Horse brand.
 
It gives us something to tweet about and post about. And I think the clients care about this stuff. They want their agency to be a “notable” and the halo rubs off on them by extension.

I think you need a blended approach and that’s what Fast Horse does — it’s not like we’re sacrificing networking and word-of-mouth for just doing lists.

Yes, I do feel it’s valuable and gives people pride to know they work at a place that is named best places to work. Inside the industry, I can see how people may not find it’s needed, but I think the award brings our name and what we do to people outside of the industry.
 
As a company that looks to and can expand across several disciplines and mediums, that’s invaluable. A great word-of-mouth tool.

I think the investment of time a company places on such lists speaks volumes. It’s not an end all be all, but it is a shorthand for people looking for jobs.
 
And I know that if I was looking for a place to work I’d much rather work somewhere that cares enough to invest that time to let their employees voice their opinion, than a place that think it’s a waste of time.
 
What (Arik) says is right, but being on the list is a way to thin the herd of companies who can’t be bothered. And if you can’t be bothered, then I shouldn’t be bothered to apply there.

I’ll throw in my two cents from the perspective of a recent college graduate. The “Best Places to Work” lists played an integral role in my job hunt during my senior year of college.
 
I kicked off the job hunt by finding the different “Best of” lists in the cities I was considering. I would find companies on the lists that interested me, and then I’d keep tabs on them and whether they had job openings.
 
When I came across the Fast Horse summer intern job posting, the Fast Horse name rang a bell because I had seen it on these lists.
 
It also gave Fast Horse added credibility in my mind. What company would you be more excited to go to on your first day of work: One with a bunch of accolades for their work, or one with a bunch of accolades for their work AND the “Best Places to Work” credit?
 
And honestly, it’s just something fun to brag about with my other friends who are starting their first job out of school. When I’m talking about hotdesking and wearing shorts to work in the summer, I can also add how that leads us to being one of the top places to work.

So, the Ponies have spoken. The consensus seems to be that it gives my colleagues a sense of pride to see Fast Horse included on these lists, and that makes the investment we make in offering ourselves for consideration worth it.

Now if you want to get me ranting about worthless lists, I respectfully submit to you the annual PR, advertising and digital agency rankings. Everything I wrote here five years ago rings even more true today.

But that’s for another day.