Inc.’s 2021 Best Workplaces honors

Inc. Best Workplaces 2021 text over a transparent blue background with a table at Hodges with T, H, P in brand letters aligned in a row

When Josh Dare and I started The Hodges Partnership, it’s not like we said to ourselves, “Hey let’s create one of the best workplaces in America.”

But 19 years later, the email came in from Inc. Magazine congratulating us for just that.

We’re proud to announce that our public relations/marketing firm of 16 Hodgers is included in this year’s list of Best Workplaces from Inc., sort of the bible of small companies, start-ups, innovators and entrepreneurs. We are one of 23 Virginia-based companies, in the top three Virginia micro organizations and the only business in Richmond to receive the honor.

Thinking back (and after discussing this a bit with Josh) to when we started the company, we just wanted to create an agency that clients and the media would want to work with and respect for our approach to the craft. Over time, we realized to accomplish that, we needed to find people who were good at what they did, had a strong work ethic, were entrepreneurial and who were kind and cared about each other.

A pivotal point came about five years ago when we decided to invest in the next generation of agency leadership. This required a shift in thinking from both of us but from me in particular. More of a micromanager historically, I realized that sharing in the decision making was the only way our people would truly grow.

We created committees on topics ranging from new business, to diversity and inclusion, to content, and even fun. Rather than Josh and I making all the decisions, we started to employ a more collaborative process that gave everyone more ownership and allowed for the sharing of ideas. While this approach doesn’t always satisfy my personal needs for control and instant decision making, it has created a more thoughtful approach and has led to cultural and business success especially during the craziness of the pandemic.

As with most of these recognition programs, the Inc. “process” included the obligatory applications with a million questions ranging from what employee benefits we offer to “tell us the things that make your company unique.” It also requires most associates to fill out a third-party survey that is anonymous and that measures things like happiness and engagement. In the report back to us from Inc., I was humbled to read some of the Hodgers quotes about their experience at THP and what makes the place so special. And the obligatory “word cloud” it provided said the No. 1 word our folks use to describe THP is “collaborative.”

As the folks who work here know, we are not “awards people.” We were recently recognized by Virginia Business as one of the best places to work in the Commonwealth, and we figured why not see how we stack up nationally. Truthfully, we thought we could learn some things through the process to improve. We had no idea we would make the list.

Josh and I would like to thank our folks, the Hodgers, for making The Hodges Partnership one of America’s Best Workplaces. You should be proud of this accomplishment and what you’ve created.

We’ll continue to try to stay out of your way and try not to mess things up.

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Jon Newman

In 2002 Jon cofounded The Hodges Partnership and has helped to grow it into one of the country’s largest public relations firms (based on O’Dwyer’s annual rankings). Jon has taught communications as an adjunct professor at VCU, speaks regularly at conferences and meetings and blogs and tweets about public relations and marketing issues.

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