Why The Royals is the best agency to work for

By Ruby Derrick | 2 May 2024
The Royals at this year's agency adventure.

Independent creative shop The Royals has revealed how it came to win the title of the best place to work in the media and marketing sector, while on a mission to be the most interested agency in the world.

The Royals has placed an emphasis on curiosity and employee wellbeing, shifting from traditional performance measures to prioritising initiatives to foster creative output.

The AFR BOSS Best Places to Work list for 2024 saw Equality Media, which was number one last year, fall to second.

The Royals, in part for its Unnatural Fridays initiative that sees the 45-member team at the agency stop whatever other work they're doing at the end of the week to concentrate on a single creative pitch, took the top spot.

The agency is creating an environment where curious, creative minds sustainably thrive. It's one thing to say that's what you want to be, it's another thing to do it, The Royals founder and managing partner Andrew Siwka and head of people & culture Kristy Camarillo, told AdNews.

"So to prove to our staff that we are genuine in our ambition, we make sure we DO things that demonstrate and facilitate that," Siwka and Camarillo say.

Some of the agency's other initiatives which garnered it the best place to work include its "most interested missions," where The Royals sends people off to learn new things and report back.

Then there's annual all agency adventures, where staff are taken somewhere interesting for two days to be immersed in new environments and activities.

And "Advance party," the agency's horizon thinking lab that investigates, experiments and prototypes on emerging trends and technologies.

The agency retains and develops staff by constantly learning, Siwka and Camarillo say, evolving to be better, professionally and personally, for themselves and their clients.

"Our key talent performance programs include our Acceleration Program. Every Royal has goals (business and personal) captured and monitored through Culture Amp, whether it’s upskilling, formal education or a pathway to promotion," they say.

"The Royals’ Leadership Empowerment and Development Program (LEAD) - to develop our female future leaders, underrepresented groups and junior talent with individual personalised plans, including coaching, growth mindset courses and external mentoring."

The agency's implementation of Unnatural Fridays has been its top performing initiative to engage creative talent.

It was established to create space, Siwka and Camarillo say.

"We implemented Unnatural Friday's to create space. The space needed for creativity to thrive. In the hectic, ultra responsive agency world of today, we were struggling to find the dedicated blocks of time required for creative people to explore and experiment on exciting, difficult creative problems for our clients and culture."

To help The Royals to be able to find, and protect, that time, it dedicated a day to it - Friday.

"A dedicated day allowed us to create the important boundaries and structures to minimise the inevitable competing priorities. It also clearly demonstrated to our staff, in action (not simply words), how serious we were to foster an environment where creativity was prioritised," Siwka and Camarillo say.

The pair say the evidence of success from the Unnatural Friday’s initiative includes The Parenting Work Skills Certificate; a first-of-its-kind program (developed in partnership with The University of Melbourne’s GenEqConsulting) to validate, demonstrate and formally recognising the key transferable skills of parents in the workplace.

There's also Wild Secrets ‘Better With Age’ - focusing on seniors pleasure, Koala’s ‘McGowan’ Sofa bed and a campaign raising awareness for brain cancer research.

On employment opportunities, Siwka and Camarillo say the team is always looking for interesting people who could be future Royals.

"After some recent new business wins, we have a number of available roles open across creative, strategy and client service. Reach out - we’d love to learn more about you."

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