10. Colle+McVoy

Advertising firm

LOCATION: Minneapolis, MN
BEST PERKS: Alternative work environment, Fitness, Community and environmental support
HIRING? Yes! collemcvoy.com

Colle+McVoy is a digitally driven, fully integrated advertising agency that has the soul of a scrappy start-up despite having been around for more than 75 years. Since moving to the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis a few years ago, the agency has quickly developed a national and international reputation for its creativity and ingenuity. For the past five years, Colle+McVoy has experienced year-over-year growth and produced standout, award-winning work for clients including Cannondale, Caribou Coffee, General Mills, GT Bicycles, Land O’Lakes, Mongoose, Mammoth Mountain, Nestle Purina, Novartis, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Schwinn, Sugoi, and many others. The roster of clients, including many outdoor-oriented companies, is partly a result of Colle+McVoy employees’ passion for the outdoors and their active lifestyles. A love for fresh air, a clean earth, and a healthy body is genetic at Colle+McVoy.

The Colle+McVoy headquarters are located in a bright, open, loftlike space with few doors but many inviting spots to work or relax. All employees, from the CEO to interns, work in equally sized work spaces with no doors. This open layout is a metaphor for the agency’s culture: there are no limits or barriers to the active mind and active body. Fresh thinking is embraced. Personal passions don’t end at home. Employees bring their pets to work; ride, run, or walk to the office; and explore their personal passions with agency support. We’re also fortunate to have a rooftop deck with stunning views of Minneapolis. The deck is used for yoga, employee-managed gardens, Friday breakfasts (with heart-healthy foods), and parties. It is open for all employees to use anytime, along with their friends and families, especially during special events like the downtown July 4th fireworks display. The Friday beer cart is a tradition at many ad agencies, but Colle+McVoy has a Friday Beer Bike. The agency’s custom-made bike is pedaled around the office with a basket full of refreshing and icy cold brews. Some departments take the Friday fun a step further by celebrating a Friday Fiesta that adds margaritas and snacks to the mix. This is likely the appropriate place to mention the agency’s deserved reputation for some of the best—and most frequent—parties in the industry. These parties are the product of perfect planning, flawless execution, colorful personalities, and extreme creativity. A game room allows employees to blow off some steam during the day by playing Ping-Pong, billiards, and video games on a gigantic screen. And it’s all just steps away from the cafeteria. 

Colle+McVoy offers annual bonuses for any employee who has been at the agency for more than six months. Managers have the power to offer instant bonuses for exemplary work or efforts at any time. These awards are often given to teams for putting in long hours, earning new business, or creating exceptional work. The company also has an annual discretionary profit-sharing plan that contributes money to employees’ 401(k) plans. A program called McVE allows peers and supervisors to easily recognize (through a digital submission) a fellow employee for a job well done. The awarded employee then receives a note and McVE trophy for his or her desk and is entered in a quarterly drawing for prizes. Awarded employees also have their names displayed on a moving ticker on the internal website. The agency’s quarterly meetings are part circus, part Oscars, and all party. The rambunctious meetings feature videos, music, costumes, food, drinks, and more—and somehow cover all the action items, including celebrating the best work of each quarter, announcing promotions, and expressing gratitude for all employees. The highlight of the meeting is the AdGyver award given to the team responsible for the most standout work of the quarter. After an inspiring video, the winner is announced and the team receives an all-expenses-paid party.

Colle+McVoy has two areas set aside for yoga, for which it provides a free weekly class. An outdoor area on the roof deck is surrounded by a garden and has views of the Minneapolis skyline. An indoor area allows employees to continue with yoga classes in cooler weather. Located in the most bike-friendly city in the country (according to Bicycling magazine), Colle+McVoy has shower and locker facilities for the many employees who bike, walk, and run to work. In addition, bikes are welcome anywhere in the agency. The agency is located one block away from a robust fitness facility, and the agency supports employee membership at this facility through discounts. Also, to reduce stress and encourage mental clarity, Colle+McVoy provides subsidized shiatsu massages in a private room. Employees can receive massages twice a week for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an entire hour. The agency has sponsored a Good Moves program to encourage employees to take a pledge for a healthier lifestyle by eating better and exercising more. Health experts speak at agency meetings to inspire and encourage employees to live healthier lives. The program includes annual flu shots for employees and their families and friends—at no cost. Colle+McVoy promotes healthy and fresh eating by supporting a community-farm program that delivers weekly fresh local produce to employees during the summer and fall. The agency will reimburse employee teams for fitness-related events, like bike or running races. Free passes are distributed for using Minneapolis’s unique bike-share program. Midday workouts are strongly encouraged, with managers setting the example by taking exercise breaks to run along the nearby Mississippi River (showers are available at the agency). Each year agency teams compete in local races. Summer hours encourage the embracing of daylight and good weather. Colle+McVoy offers generous discounts on outdoor-related activities and products. Bikes are discounted up to 50 percent. Employees can buy running, bike, and triathlon gear for a 40 percent discount. Employees can buy hiking shoes and equipment for half off. Employees who regularly visit a gym receive a discount on their monthly membership fees.

Colle+McVoy and its employees make an impact through national community-service efforts. The agency donated more than 4,000 hours of time and money to create a global bicycling movement and organization called People for Bikes. In just one year, the movement gained nearly 200,000 supporters and has a goal of uniting one million in support of making the world safer and better for biking. For more than 20 years, Colle+McVoy has strongly and generously supported United Way through a range of activities. Each year, the agency donates hundreds of hours to develop unique fundraising campaigns. This year, the agency created the Smile Exchange, a website that allows visitors to post their smiles for $1 in exchange for eliminating a sad fact about the need for charity. Colle+McVoy also makes significant efforts to help its neighbors. During the holiday season, Colle+McVoy produces a unique internal fundraising campaign for United Way by hosting both a regular and a silent auction for unique prizes such as a gourmet dinner cooked by the CEO at her house or an extra day of PTO. Another program allows employees to have the agency automatically deduct a fixed amount from each paycheck to donate to a local charity. In addition, the agency sponsors employees in fundraising efforts: Colle+McVoy matches dollar for dollar all money raised in its annual summer food drives. Investing both time and money, the agency supports pro bono accounts each year, including Cultural Jumbalaya, Boy Scouts of America, Free Arts Minnesota, and Bikes Belong. In 2010, pro bono accounts amounted to more than 5,500 hours, or the equivalent of $800,000. Agency teams make workday trips to support local charities such as Feed My Starving Children, Free Arts, and the Boy Scouts.

Colle+McVoy encourages environmentally-friendly commuting through a variety of initiatives. The agency strategically relocated downtown to allow the use of public transportation and make the office more centrally located. (The agency is less than one block away from a light-rail station.) As a result, employees are able to purchase discounted metro passes to ride local buses or trains. Colle+McVoy has also taken aggressive steps to make its workplace more environmentally conscious. Washable plates, cups, and mugs have replaced disposables. The agency encourages responsible electronic recycling by holding collection days and encouraging employees to bring in their outdated electronics to be delivered to a recycling facility. The agency’s office is built to allow for efficient air movement and natural light. Meetings frequently occur without the need for artificial lighting. When Colle+McVoy offices relocated downtown, all desks were brought from the old location and new construction was kept to a minimum. During 2009, Colle+McVoy initiated an aggressive printing-reduction program that is producing great results, with a 21 percent drop in printouts from 2009 to 2010.

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