Renee Murray stepped into the role of head of people and culture at Half Dome in May to lead its people initiatives and its Employee Value Proposition.
The agency was recognised for its commitment to its people and culture initiatives, such as unlimited paid annual leave, its flexible public holiday policy, and its focus on cultivating a culture of growth, happiness, and high engagement among its people.
The survey found that 98% of employees agreed Half Dome is a “great place to work”, which improved from 2022’s 97% and 2021’s 85%. It also found that 100% of the team strongly agree they are treated fairly regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, or age.
Half Dome also scored 95% and over with employees agreeing that people care about each other at the agency, are proud to tell others where they work, and believe the agency is a fun place to work.
Murray told Mediaweek the agency was proud and pleased to achieve the certification again this year.
“It means our culture is genuine and sustainable, which is important to attracting and retaining talent. Even through a period of rapid growth, we have maintained our ‘Happiness Advantage’ and consistent people experience, which is important to our team.
“Change can often impact how an organisation operates, and we have seen a few of those changes in the past year. However, to have been able to execute this and uphold our positive culture gives our team confidence and certainty, which transfers into increased engagement and performance,” she noted.
The key to balancing workplace success for Half Dome
Murray said that at the centre of the success of the workplace policy for Half Dome is its people.
“We know if our people are happy, they are motivated, engaged and deliver their best work. Being aware of how important it is to be comfortable with embracing a growth mindset has meant we haven’t been stagnant, so we have been able to respond and remain agile to ensure our external and internal focus has been considered,” she said.
In April, the agency launched a new positioning, and its promise to clients and staff is unlocking their ‘Whole Potential’.
“It is both a celebration of what we are already doing whilst providing the necessary ambition to fuel our product and culture growth in the future,” she said.
‘”Whole potential’ acts as a rally cry to attract like-minded clients, which has resonated with our existing clients and helped attract new clients such as Nectr, Ecosa, and Vitasoy, among others,” Murray added.
Murray on what makes Half Dome a great place to work
The survey found that 98% of employees agreed Half Dome is a “great place to work”, which improved from 2022’s 97% and 2021’s 85%.
Murray noted that the 13% jump shows they have a robust and positive culture at Half Dome that emphasises its people product.
“There were several statements in the GPTW survey where we received a 100% positive experience response rates, aligning to both our values and our people pillars. Specifically, these areas were safety, fairness, inclusivity, justice (across race, gender, age, seniority), responsibility and community.
“Our foundational people pillars of autonomy, flow and connection are directly related to these positive responses, which reflect our ‘Happiness Advantage’.”
Murray also shared that it further reinforces their value of “staying classy” built on kindness and respect. She said: “We know that celebrating differences and creating an environment with a key focus on mental and physical health has a profound impact on job satisfaction at Half Dome.”
Murray noted that autonomy empowers the team to take ownership of their work, leading to increased engagement. “Fostering connections and a sense of community within the team enhances collaboration and contributes to overall well-being and happiness.
“We have experienced that this culture benefits our team and positively impacts Half Dome through performance, growth, and sustained results like this. Continuing to nurture and enhance these aspects of our culture will remain a key focus for sustained positive outcomes for our team and Half Dome,” Murray added.
How Half Dome makes working fun
The Great Place to Work survey found that 95% of responders said Half Dome makes work fun. For Murray, she noted that beyond the great perks, social events, team trivia nights, great merch, bringing your dog to work, flexibility and donuts – the agency has created a relaxed, supportive, and positive environment.
“We do great work together and put an emphasis on collaboration. We make a point of celebrating the wins, from value shout-outs to milestone achievements, we also ‘Love Mondays’ – because we love what we do,” she said.
Murray noted that a fun workplace encourages and increases engagement, creativity, connection, and, ultimately, performance. Agencies looking to achieve a similar element of fun can implement this by ensuring that fun activities are part of the plan to create a fun workplace, not the only factor.
“You need to ensure your ways of working promote a positive workplace where the team feels empowered to contribute and connect. The “fun” can then be experienced through the energy, the shared values and the sense of purpose,” she added.
Half Dome’s next focus areas
Half Dome has pioneered some innovative people and culture initiatives – from its trial of unlimited annual leave to wellness budgets, extra leave for recharging, flexible hours, and mental health first aid training.
Such a successful workplace policy has also earned them an AFR BOSS Best Place to Work for the third consecutive year in 2023. Next year, the agency will focus on increasing focus on Learning and Development.
“This has included DEI training and leadership training to ensure we are providing an environment for all our team to thrive and grow,” Murray said.
Murray noted that Half Dome recently made changes to its Parental Leave Policy that amplify and reaffirm their commitment to unlocking their team’s whole potential, particularly for parents returning to the workplace after taking leave.
“We have increased paid parental leave for primary carers to 16 weeks and six weeks for secondary carers, in addition to continuing to make super contributions on all unpaid leave.
“To ensure a supportive and family-friendly return, for the first three months, Half Dome primary carers can work 75% of their usual hours for 100% pay, and this extends to secondary carers for the first four weeks of their return to work. Parental leave is accessible after one year at Half Dome,” she said.
“We will equally continue to review our flex policy and unlimited leave to ensure our team are able to enjoy the benefits and they remain relevant to their needs,” Murray added.
Building and improving for the year ahead
Looking ahead to how Half Dome intends to retain the certification for another year, Murray said that the agency is actively gathering data, sharing these insights, and continually building plans and actions to improve its people product.
“We run engagement surveys every eight weeks, focus groups and seek feedback on new initiatives, and we have even introduced a question box to gain regular feedback.
“This feedback and data drives our decisions and will ensure our ‘Happiness Advantage’ remains the focus to enable us to continue to provide an environment for everyone to thrive and unlock their whole potential,” Murray said.
Top image: Renee Murray