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News Plus 24 Aug 2021 - 2 min read

Skin for the win: This is Flow CEO Jimmy Hyett writes profit share into staff contracts, backdates to last year, up to 50% up for grabs

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

This is Flow CEO Jimmy Hyett is giving staff "skin in the game" to focus the collective commercial mind and reward employees for a massive 18 months. Unlike some holding company schemes, which have a tendency to disappear when goalposts are moved, Hyett said the bonus is guaranteed to be paid, provided personal and company performance targets are met – even if the firm falls slightly short.

What you need to know:

  • Indie agency This is Flow is launching a profit share program for current and new staff.
  • Based on both the agency and individual performance, employees will be able to share anywhere from 5-50 per cent of the profit – even if the firm falls slightly short of targets.
  • CEO Jimmy Hyett said the move will reward and retain existing staff and serve as a recruitment tool in a market suffering from a major talent drain.

I remember working in holding companies and the rush of joy after you won a pitch. But it was often followed by the realisation it would end up being a lot more work, lumped on top of an already hefty workload. I always thought that it really didn't benefit those who helped secure the client, and that's a big part of where this stemmed from."

Jimmy Hyett, CEO, This is Flow

Following a massive 18 months, This is Flow CEO Jimmy Hyett is giving employees "skin in the game", with a guaranteed share of profits provided personal and company performance targets are hit.

He said that differs from some holding company schemes, which can sometimes disappear when goalposts are moved. In fact, at least some profit share, written into contracts, will be paid even if the company falls short of targets.

Flow will pay all eligible staff 5 per cent of profits when the business achieves 80-110 per cent of its targets and to support and reward great performance, for any additional net profit between 110-120 per cent of target, this will increase to 10 per cent.

The agency will then increase the percentage incrementally up to 50 per cent, uncapped, after it reaches targets of 150 per cent.

To be eligible, staff must score 70 per cent or higher in their annual performance review, which Hyett said was a "very achievable score". Staff must also have been with the agency for a minimum six months and still be employed at the time of payout.

Hyett said the agency has already paid eligible staff for last year's performance.

"It’s not just a future plan, the agency has experienced significant growth over the last year and had a bumper last six months, so we wanted to share that success with our team immediately, which is why we have backdated the payout for last year," Hyett said.

"This is over and above our staff's annual salary and is guaranteed to be paid, even included within contracts, so it is unlike other standard bonuses found in holding groups that are sometimes not paid out even when targets are hit," he added.

Skin for the win

This Is Flow has had a string of new client wins in the last 12 months and in June inked a partnership with global holdco MDC Partners. The affiliate deal means it will work with some of the major global brands on MDC's books in Australia and New Zealand (MDC works with the likes of Disney, Fiat Chrysler, MasterCard, Microsoft, Mondelez, Netflix, Nike, Pepsico, Target and Walmart) and go into pitches alongside the likes of Anomaly and 72andSunny.

This year, Flow picked up Coors, now a shared client with MDC, following a strong 2020, in which it won Vodafone-TPG owned telco brand Felix, and ended the year with a string of wins in the healthcare sector.

Given the "pressures and successes" of new business, Hyett said it is important that every member of the team knows they are working with "skin in the game", 

"I remember being in a holding group and the immense amount of time and effort that went into new business and yes, there would be that initial rush of joy after you won," Hyett said.

"However, this was often followed by the realisation it would end up being a lot more work, that often was lumped on top of an already hefty workload. I always thought that it really didn't benefit those who helped secure the client and that's a big part of where this stemmed from."

This could be a valuable USP for us in attracting the best talent but also showing them that there are alternatives out there where you can really drive the success of the business and see the results.

Jimmy Hyett, CEO, This is Flow

Recruitment, retention, reward

Alongside rewarding existing staff – Hyett said they have been "busting their asses" building out This Is Flow's success – the agency will use the program to attract new talent.

The talent shortage across Australia's economy is being acutely felt in media, which usually relies on open borders to keep the pipe filled.

Inter-agency poaching is plumbing new depths and price inflation is also becoming a serious challenge.

"We've been trying to hire for several roles lately and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find people to fill them – and yet the opportunities and growth are there for us," Hyett said.

"This could be a valuable USP for us in attracting the best talent but also showing them that there are alternatives out there where you can really drive the success of the business and see the results."

Additionally, Hyett hopes the scheme will hone the collective commercial mind across all levels in the business.

"It's going to be a way to take every member of the team on the journey with us and I think really build on the culture and environment we already have, strengthening our appeal as an agency," Hyett said.

"We're setting ourselves up for the future with this strategy and I think it will continue to promote further innovation within the agency and from the team."

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