The folks at Hiebing, the Madison-based advertising and marketing agency, borrowed a saying from the Second City comedy improv group that breeds creativity and sums up the Hiebing philosophy: “Yes. And …”
“We spend a lot of time yes-anding – adding to other people’s ideas, rather than saying, ‘My idea is better than your idea,’” said Dave Florin, president and partner at the Downtown agency. “One of our core, defining values here is ‘we before me.’”
Florin views success through three lenses: the quality of the work Hiebing produces, the health of its culture and the company’s financial stability. Respect for ideas in a competitive, creative marketplace is a key value.
“We want to win on behalf of our clients, but we keep that competition focused externally, not internally,” he said. “People are really comfortable locking arms with one another, knowing that a team of people has their back.”
Hiebing also believes that when the agency wins, everybody wins. It has established bonus and profit-sharing programs and, of its nearly 100 employees, close to one-third are partners in the firm.
“If you’re going to be in a market like Madison and you want to attract national-level talent, they’ve really got to feel like they have significance and influence,” Florin said. “That’s always been a key piece of the puzzle.”
Hiebing, which also has an Austin, Texas, office, is transparent with staff regarding agency goals, strategy and finances.
“There is never any guessing about the agency’s agenda or why we’re making decisions,” Florin said. “It makes it easier for people to trust an organization.”
In addition to a benefits package, Hiebing employees enjoy company-sponsored parties during the year, a Friday afternoon practice of having the “Beer Fairy” visit their desks with a cold one, and an inspiring and unique workplace in a converted Downtown church.
“People work really hard here, so we have to make sure they enjoy the climate,” Florin said. “We want to make sure this is a workspace that people find inspiring and energizing.”