When all employees support each other, all employees are supported
by Open Work
Most people who found companies initiate their business, grow their staff and then address how they will deal with their employees’ family obligations. PR agency Double Forte did the reverse.
Lee Caraher, president of Double Forte, and her co-founder started their PR agency after Lee’s mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Lee, naturally, wanted the flexibility to travel back and forth to her mother’s home, which she did for three years.
Fast-forward almost 12 years and one-fifth of the staff at Double Forte is dealing with parents with chronic or acute illnesses, one-third of the team is balancing parenting with career, and the majority of the staff are actively engaged in some kind of personal pursuits — from running marathons, to volunteering, to nurturing writing or musical careers. The company handles theses work-life issues the same way Lee handled her first years building the business: by building and defending a culture of trust, accountability, collaboration and family first.
The agency is built into teams so that no one works alone and client work can proceed without everyone present. Copying team members on all communication with clients and coworkers is a requirement. Employees are encouraged to alert managers early if they are dealing with an issue that may impact their work so that team members can plan accordingly. The culture encourages and supports reciprocity—employees help each other because they know they will be supported when they need it, too.
Double Forte’s management team will be the first to admit that it’s not easy to lead a family-first culture; but it’s worth it. In 12 years, the agency boasts the highest employee retention rates in the industry; leading to some of the longest employee engagements in an industry traditionally built on churn.