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News Analysis 21 Jun 2022 - 7 min read

Perk wars: Free IVF, ‘slumber days’, office dogs, summer leave, free food, home office funding – the extras Publicis, Havas, Dentsu, GroupM and more offer to win talent battles

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Deputy Editor

Mi3 has looked at multiple agency Employee Value Propositions (EVPs), which detail the bonuses, extras and perks they offer.

It’s almost enough to entice a journalist to go agency-side. Australia's ad and media agencies are upping the ante, funding everything from fertility treatment, through gender affirmation leave, to $4000 referral bonuses even for staff who have left. Slumber days sit alongside free financial advice, home office funding and laundry services as agencies vie for talent in a labour market that has never been tighter. With salaries rising, the perks arms race is intensifying. Here's a sample of the spoils.

What you need to know:

  • Salaries are booming by up to 20 per cent for many roles, but money isn’t everything. Benefits, extras and perks are another way agencies are looking to attract talent.
  • Mi3 has obtained the list of extras offered by Publicis Groupe, Havas, Dentsu, DDB Australia, Enero Group, Ogilvy PR, whiteGREY and Mediabrands. A non-exhaustive summary of their extras is below.
  • Weeks of fertility leave, domestic and family violence leave, gender affirmation leave, miscarriage leave, compassionate leave, personal/carers leave, summertime leave, volunteer leave, study leave, adoption and surrogacy leave, birthday leave sit adjacent to dogs in the office, weekly treats, free yoga, flu shots, and free financial advisory services.
  • There’s also cash to set up home offices, up to $4,000 cash to refer new employees – even if you've left –and thousands of dollars in new business referrals.

Australia’s major agencies are offering more than 10 different types of leave, ‘work from anywhere’ policies, thousands in referral bonuses, more free food than you can eat, in some cases total flexibility and up to five months of paid parental leave to entice workers amid a critical – and deepening – talent crunch.

Salaries are soaring – in some cases, agency leads say entry level employees are asking for $90,000 and $150,000 after two years. Beyond the dollars, the perk wars appear to be entering a new strategic phase.

IPG Mediabrands agency Initiative now offers staff funds to cover multiple rounds of IVF, as well fertility treatment – egg freezing and sperm donation plus adoption support – in a bid to help, keep, and attract talent against a backdrop of record industry vacancy rates and churn.

The documents detailing the extras, benefits and bonuses are known as Employee Value Propositions (EVPs). Chief people officers and human resources execs say they're now table stakes in wooing prospective talent. 

Extra leave days (depending on client needs)

If it’s an employee’s birthday, agencies are increasingly giving that person the day off – as do Havas, GroupM, Ogilvy PR, whiteGREY, Mediabrands and Publicis. There’s also extra leave based on tenure. Dentsu offers a fifth week after two years of service, Ogilvy PR and GroupM throw in an extra day each year for the first five years. They’re known as ‘slumber days’ at DDB Australia, which limits them to four.

Summer leave – extra days or half-days over the warmer months – is touted by whiteGREY, OgilvyPR, Havas and GroupM.

Volunteer leave unshackles employees to do good things, granted by GroupM and Dentsu a day a year – though Dentsu adds a second for its group-wide One Day For Change event.

There’s fertility treatment leave – 10 days at Publicis, alongside domestic and family violence leave, gender affirmation leave, miscarriage leave and compassionate leave.

There’s also a lot of half days. DDB gives its people a half day before every long weekend, WPP's GroupM and whiteGREY give five ‘Summer Days’ – though should probably rename them 'summer half days'. These extras are, per DDB, “based on client needs and at line manager/agency leader discretion”. There are other leave entitlements that are distinct: Publicis Groupe gives all its staff 10 October off each year to mark World Mental Health Day. GroupM lets its people work on public holidays in exchange for another day off that’s more relevant to their culture, beliefs or identity.

Freebies, extra cash

There’s also a lot of old school free stuff: DDB Australia offers subsidised food at ‘Bev’s Café’, described as “the heart and soul” of the agency, and many say, highly creative. Publicis dishes out free snacks and breakfast, Havas serves up free breakfast and laundry, while whiteGREY hands over free coffee vouchers to a nearby café. Selling the sizzle, Enero hosts a ‘Broke BBQ’ on the day before payday.

Enero also offers free yoga, alongside Publicis, while Havas and Enero throw in free flu shots. Meanwhile, Publicis, Havas and Enero give access to financial advisors.

Referring new staff is increasingly lucrative. Publicis pays $1,000 or $4,000 referral bonuses, depending on the role – and the talent only has to stay six months. Havas pays $4,000 for successful referrals, even to former employees.

Ogilvy PR stumps up for a free laptop, plus $100 a month towards mobile phone and internet bills, a $250 payment to set up a home office, and $5,000 towards training and development. Dentsu also gives $250 to set up home offices, while whiteGREY offers $250 towards “anything that supports your wellbeing”.

Parental leave

Paid parental leave is one metric that is more directly measurable across different agencies. There’s ‘slumber leave’ and ‘loyalty leave’, which are essentially the same thing, but ‘parental leave’ is usually ‘parental leave’. Publicis Groupe offers up to 18 weeks of paid leave plus 10 paid ‘keeping in touch days’, Havas provides 12 weeks of parental leave with an extra week for each year of service – this is “unlimited”. GroupM offers 16 weeks of paid, gender-neutral leave, including for adoption, fostering and surrogacy. It also applies in the tragic case of the loss of a baby or stillbirth. Dentsu allocates 16 weeks for primary caregivers and will pay superannuation for a full 12 months. Mediabrands offers up to 16 weeks, pays superannuation for up to 12 months, and offers up to eight weeks paid leave for the secondary carer. DDB offers three months’ paid leave, after 18 months of tenure, while Ogilvy PR pays 12 to 16 weeks of parental leave and two to four for secondary carers, depending on tenure.

Wellness

After two years of a certain global pandemic, agencies are also heavily invested in Mental Health and Wellness initiatives, including Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). It may not fall strictly under the banner, but it likely has the same effect: Enero Group trumpets its “dogs at work” perk, a roster of up to four dogs in the office each day. 

Publicis provides mindfulness training, access to psychologists and social workers, and claims to have trained 82 Mental Health First Aid wardens to date. Havas has counsellors available and runs anti-discrimination, anti-sexual harassment and unconscious bias training. GroupM has 24/7 confidential counselling through LifeWorks and a hotline for employees and their families. Mediabrands has monthly wellbeing coaching and a full subscription to Headspace, as well as mental health first aid qualifications available. Dentsu offers three-year accreditation and training for mental health first aid through the Black Dog Institute, while DDB will fund four free psychology sessions each year.

The Perk Lists

Note: These summaries do not include everything offered by each group or agency.

Publicis Groupe

  • Up to 18 weeks paid parental leave for permanent employees, with 10 paid ‘keeping in touch days’.
  • Option to ‘swap’ primary and secondary parental leave carer in child’s first nine months.
  • Fertility treatment leave (10 days), domestic and family violence leave (10 days), gender affirmation leave (10 days), miscarriage leave (five days), compassionate leave (five days), and birthdays off. 
  • Global Mobility Program to transfer around the world, via internal job notice board. Option to work from any Publicis office for six weeks each year.
  • $1,000 referral bonus for entry level roles, $4,000 for higher level. Paid after six months tenure.
  • Free exercise classes, yoga sessions, snacks, free breakfast, wellness advice.
  • Mindfulness training, masterclass through THRIVE (EnergyX and Facebook).
  • Network for psychologists and social workers available for short term counselling.
  • Day off on October 10 for World Mental Health Day. Some employees – 82 so far – trained to be Mental Health First Aid wardens.
  • Financial resources and advice.
  • VivaWomen! promotes women through mentoring, professional development, leadership and work/life integration.
  • Egalite, a business resource group, for LGBTQ+ employees.
  • Skills gap assessment, roadmap and planning.

Havas Group

  • 12 weeks of parental leave, with extra week added for each year of service – this is “unlimited”. Secondary carer receives two weeks of leave.
  • Five paid ‘stay in touch’ days over parental leave, plus $100 per day for three days’ childcare during first 12 weeks back.
  • Family planning leave, pregnancy leave, fertility leave, bereavement leave for miscarriages, adoption and surrogacy leave, domestic violence leave and gender affirmation leave.
  • Extra annual leave available based on tenure.
  • Birthdays off.
  • Finish at 3pm on Fridays in Summer.
  • Counsellors, financial coaches and leadership coaches available.
  • Free flu shot.
  • Discounted health insurance, gym membership and novated car lease (i.e tax saving) available.
  • $4,000 new employee referral incentive – even for former employees, and a new business incentive scheme depending on size of account.
  • Free daily breakfast and laundry service.
  • Online training platform, Havas University, and anti-discrimination, anti-sexual harassment, unconscious bias training.  

GroupM

  • Flexibility: Each individual and team develop a separate plan to balance working from home and being in the office.
  • 16 weeks of fully paid, gender neutral parental leave for either parent within first 12 months if they are primary carer, after probation. This includes for adoption, fostering and surrogacy. It also applies in tragedy: The loss of a baby or a stillbirth.
  • Secondary carers are eligible for up to four weeks fully paid leave.
  • Superannuation paid for any unpaid portion of parental leave.
  • Flexible public holidays: Employees can choose to work any or all flexible public holidays in exchange for another day off that is important to them.
  • Companywide ‘Make Space’ long weekend in July, first introduced in 2022.
  • In-house training through The Academy.
  • perkSPACE platform gives access to discounts across 400 retailers in Australia and New Zealand.
  • 24/7 counselling through LifeWorks.
  • All Means All parenting and families hub with resources.
  • Personal/carers leave (up to 10 days), compassionate leave (two days), summer days (five half days during Daylight Savings), volunteer leave (one day paid each year to volunteer).
  • Loyalty Leave: One extra annual leave day off each year up to five years/days.
  • Birthday leave, transfers to closest weekday if it falls on weekends.

Dentsu

  • 16 weeks parental leave for primary caregivers, plus 12 months of superannuation contributions. Four weeks paid leave for secondary caregivers. Parental leave coaching to support return to workforce.
  • Three Wellness Days each year.
  • Two days ‘volunteer leave’, including Dentsu’s global ‘One Day For Change’ volunteering event.
  • Fifth week of annual leave after two years at the company.
  • Family violence leave (five days), study leave (five days), personal/carers leave (10 days).
  • No expectations to be in the office during business hours, but be where experiences are and get tasks done.
  • $250 allowance to set up home office.
  • School holiday program, KidsCo.
  • Dentsu Uni: 70,000 pieces of content from experts.
  • Mental health first aid training (three year accreditation) available through Black Dog Institute.
  • Path of Tabei leadership program for females.

Mediabrands

  • Most extras and perks are unique to individual Mediabrands agencies – like UM’s Family Friendly Workplace accreditation and Initiative’s Family Planning Funding Benefits programme.
  • Up to 16 weeks parental leave for primary carer and up to eight weeks for gender neutral secondary carer, with superannuation paid for any unpaid portion of primary carer leave up to 12 months. 
  • Leave available for pregnancy loss, stillbirth, adoption, surrogacy and fostering – for both primary and secondary carer. Leave available for Gender Affirmation under Gender Affirmation policy.
  • Birthday leave, study leave, Bonus Leave Program.
  • Pride in Diversity membership.
  • Community programmes such as our RAP Committee; Parenting Hub, Empowership and ShEqual.
  • Leadership opportunities through early manager learning for emerging leaders, Centres of Excellence, Manager Blueprint Programme and MindNavigator Leadership coaching.
  • Extensive e-learning programmes for craft and soft skills, opportunity to do Mark Ritson Mini MBAs 
  • SAFE Sexual harassment learning, monthly Wellness Walk ins (wellbeing coaching), and full access to Headspace.
  • Mental Health First Aid Qualifications and Support.
  • Global mobility to move around the network.
  • Employee Referral bonuses.
  • Access to Orion Deals, a platform to access discounted products and experiences.

DDB Australia

  • ‘Slumber days’: Up to four days additional leave based on tenure.
  • Friday afternoons off over December and January.
  • Half day before long weekends.
  • Events: half yearly parties, wine and cheese tastings, gallery visits.
  • DDB Group training program.
  • Three months’ paid leave for primary carers, 3 weeks for secondary carers (after 18 months tenure).
  • Up to 10 days’ ‘compassionate leave’, like miscarriages or First Nations employees.
  • Four psychology sessions per year.
  • Two days remote working each week.
  • Subsidised food at ‘Bev’s Café’.

Enero Group

  • A roster of up to four dogs in the office each day. “Dogs at work”.
  • Kids club during school holidays.
  • Wednesday treats – a fruit platter or indulgent surprises at 3.30pm each Wednesday.
  • ‘Broke BBQ’ the day before pay day.
  • Paid parental leave (unclear length) after 12month probation.
  • 23 internal training sessions per year.
  • Internal Academy sessions and Enero Women program.
  • Global mobility through Sydney, Melbourne, New York, London, Munich and more.
  • Free yoga in Sydney on some Mondays.
  • Free flu shot.
  • Free independent financial advisor.
  • Events: Harmony day, IWD, NAIDOC Week, Christmas party, Family Christmas breakfast.
  • Pool table, ping pong, foosball, Friday afternoon snacks and drinks.

Ogilvy PR

  • One day extra off each year for first five years, ie up to five extra days off.
  • Extra day off as Christmas leave.
  • Extra leave for summer.
  • Birthday leave.
  • 12-16 weeks of paid parental leave, depending on length of service. 2-4 weeks for secondary carers. Super paid during parental leave after three years’ service.
  • Counselling support.
  • $100 a month towards mobile phone and internet bills.
  • Laptop.
  • One-off $250 payment to set up home office.
  • Formal process to develop personal growth plan, join WPP AUNZ mentoring program.
  • Consultancy training session for senior account leads.
  • $5,000 per employee for training and development.
  • Access to WPP AUNZ Academy program.

whiteGREY

  • Full flexibility
  • Can work from anywhere in the world for up to six weeks a year.
  • Three ‘Wellbeing days’.
  • Summer Days: Five half days during summer months.
  • A day off each year to support a nominated charity.
  • Extra leave on anniversary date with agency capped at five years/five extra days.
  • Birthdays off.
  • Financial support for studies and leave.
  • $250 allowance to support “anything that best supports your wellbeing”.
  • Discounted gym membership, wellbeing products.
  • Free coffee vouchers.
  • Training and development through WPP and Grey Global.
  • Company-funded superannuation insurance.

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Sam Buckingham-Jones

Deputy Editor

Market Voice

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