• Georgia Hatton

Agency Approach: Reflect Digital

Agency Approach sees Marketing Island get down and dirty with unique agencies from across the globe. In a bid to uncover new wisdom and opinion, we speak to some of the best professionals in our diverse industry. Touching upon individual approaches, valuable knowledge, innovative ideas and unique insight, we endeavour to well and truly... spill the beans.

Reflect Digital is a digital agency with specialist teams covering SEO and paid performance marketing, creative design and branding, website and software development as well as gasification. They aim to fuel business growth by achieving their clients Sweet Spot. They believe there is an optimum balance between brand, technology and marketing that makes a difference to the return a campaign will be possible of achieving.

Reflect Digital on...Inspiration.

Marketing Island: What was the inspiration behind the birth of Reflect Digital? Was there a certain moment in your life that triggered this new chapter, or was founding an agency something you always wanted to do?

Reflect Digital: From a very young age, I had always wanted to run a business. My dad was my inspiration, he ran his own business and from as soon as I was old enough I would answer the phones and carry his briefcase around the house!

I did not know what business I would run though, so when I left school I set out to find what I was passionate about. I moved from job to job within sales/marketing until I ended up in a digital agency. This is when I knew I had found what I loved. This was circa 2008, so still early days for Google and many of the platforms we use today had not even been thought of.

I started in a customer service role right at the heart of the business getting to learn about all service lines. I loved the ability to demonstrate change and results, that meant we were having a positive impact on our clients’ businesses.

After acquiring a number of years experience in this agency and then one other, I knew it was my time to give it a go. In February 2011 with the support of my Mum and Dad, I was able to leave my job and to start Reflect Digital.

Reflect Digital on… #4DayWeek.

Marketing Island: Reflect offers employees a 4 day week - we love this! Can you tell us a little more about it? Where did you first come across #4DayWeek in action, what made you roll out the initiative and how is it improving the work the team produces and the culture at Reflect?

Reflect Digital: Back in the summer 2018 Paul (my business partner and husband)and I were taking time to consider our culture and where we wanted the business to go. We have always led from the front in terms of work ethic and we did have a lovely culture, but we wanted to do something different.

We were also keen to look at how we could support our team’s mental health, in a fast-paced environment like an agency having the right amount of downtime is key to keeping our team at their best.

We looked at lots of different initiatives from unlimited holiday to no structure to the working hours. From our research unlimited holiday drives team members to take less holiday as they tend to feel guilty, we definitely did not want this outcome. The unstructured work hours makes collaboration really difficult and that is part of what makes Reflect Digital great – our people and the ways in which we work together.

So we ended up at the idea of a 4-day week, which from research had worked really well at a New Zealand business and there were other case studies in places like Sweden. To us, when we talked about it in practice it quite quickly felt like a ‘no-brainer’. We have not cut our hours, we still work 37.5 hours a week, we just do slightly longer days with the bonus of a full day off – work hard / play hard!

The 4-day week is totally optional and we are open 5 days a week based on how we split the days between Monday’s and Friday’s. Your day off has to be a Monday or Friday as it is important that the person is getting a three day weekend.

The longer days work really well and genuinely everyone is more productive. That time first or last thing when there is less client contact allows all of us to really knuckle down and really has made a tangible impact on our productivity. We also measure our eNPS score measured by Office Vibes which has gone up 216% from before we launched in September 2018 to April 2019.

"We have always believed in challenging the norm, we are in such a fast-paced world now we always need to challenge the way we do things."

Reflect Digital… bonus to leave.

Marketing Island: Another initiative Reflect offers is ‘I’m Out’ - a bonus paid to employees who leave your company during their probation period. We find this super interesting. Can you fill us in on the reasoning behind ‘I’m Out’ and why it works well for both the business and your employees?

Reflect Digital: The probation period in a new job has always felt very one way in favour of the company. Our view is that this is not right, it is so important that a new job and company is a good fit for both sides. Therefore the idea with ‘I’m out’ is that we make it easier for someone to decide it’s not right for them by paying them a bonus to leave.

I think globally a lot of people have this mindset of ‘I need at least 1 year per company on my CV’ so they tend to stick jobs out. This is not good for them personally if they do not love the job, but is also bad for businesses. The time invested in that first year to embed someone within your business, your clients and your team is critical and if that person leaves after a year it’s really costly.

By trying to encourage and empower new employees to be sure they have made the right step we aim to build a more loyal workforce. It’s a case of being grown up about these conversations and allowing it to be equal between employee and employer with regards to how happy you are with the new job.

Reflect Digital on… the importance of values and culture.

Marketing Island: We’ve noticed a huge trend in agencies using their values and culture as a way of standing out and appealing to not only potential candidates, but clients too. Why is it so important for agencies to demonstrate unique initiatives, family like culture and meaningful values in today's crowded industry?

Reflect Digital: There is no getting away from it, agency life can be really high pressure. With multiple clients to please and many projects running at the same time, there is always lots to do in an agency. If I am honest this is what I love the most!

But that does mean there are highs and lows in the client lifecycle of pitching, winning, losing, winning again, and all the delivery that goes on. So that family vibe is so important to ensure everyone has each other’s back – especially at Reflect Digital, we are so collaborative it truly runs across the business.

I think where the industry is quite crowded now it is such an important factor in standing out to clients and potential hires. I do believe there is a skills gap developing born out of so many digital roles that do not align directly with school subjects. We all think teenagers today are so digitally savvy – they are – but they are not being educated so much on the roles that exist behind the technology they are so complacent with.

I also believe that this trend in values and culture is actually happening gradually across most industries. It is just most obvious in the agency world as we tend to be more agile and therefore able to change. We really are in a much fairer world now where employers, on the whole, realise the importance of work/life balance and creating an environment employees love to work in.

"Gone are the old fashioned days of employer and employee relationships where all the ‘power’ was with the employer."

Reflect Digital on… being an out-of-London agency.

Marketing Island: The advertising and digital industry can often be very London centric. With the majority or agencies and brands residing there, how has being an agency outside of London shaped Reflect Digital?

Reflect Digital: We love our Kent base, we are close enough to London to support our London based client’s but with the joy of Kent on our doorstep. Our base at Turkey Mill is a great location next to Mote Park in Maidstone, which gives us all a great opportunity to go for walks at lunch and to do walking meetings.

We compete with agencies from all over the country and with communication how it is these days location is never a problem.

Being based out of London does offer it’s advantages in rent costs so this benefits our running costs and therefore the knock on effect for our clients hourly rates.

Got more questions for Reflect Digital or fancy a chat, you can shoot them a message here.

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Marketing Island is an award-winning online marketing magazine set to inspire those in the digital industry.