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Chatting With Ilyse Smith on Hill & Knowlton's Top 100 Spot

Hill & Knowlton was recently named one of Mediacorp’s Top 100 employers in Canada. From Hill & Knowlton’s Toronto offices, Senior Vice-President Ilyse Smith talked to me about her agency’s seventh-time spot on the list.

Ilyse Smith says that in her 12 years at Hill & Knowlton, its corporate philosophy has always been the same: satisfied employees mean happy clients. “It’s a culture that really believes,” she says, ” that if you focus on employees, employees will take care of the clients.”

That employee focus means flexible work schedules, a variety of work style options, and opportunities to move internally and to Hill & Knowlton’s offices across the country. Hill & Knowlton stresses a work/life balance that lets employees focus on client needs because they know they have time for their own.

It all equals a high rate of employee retention-which also means a high rate of client retention. Smith says that having staff that have worked on a client account for years understand that client inside and out. “It makes a difference to the client when we know the most minute details of their corporate history.”

The agency also welcomes new ideas from its staff. “We take advantage of employees’ fresh thinking,” says Smith, noting that it allows employees to contribute and means more innovative account strategies can be created.

Smith says that while Hill & Knowlton has always had this philosophy in place, it’s only been in recent years that it has been codified. “We’re much better now at putting process around these developments, and we adapt as we grow.”

Hill & Knowlton’s only true employee policy? Constant improvement. “We ask, ‘what can we push ourselves to next?’ I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”