Offering flexible working is one way to help create a happy workforce says Caroline Kinsey

Caroline Kinsey established Cirkle in 1998 and claims a large part of the Buckinghamshire-based agency’s current success is because of the culture that she has nurtured there, about which she is intensely passionate: “Without the dedication and commitment of my staff, Cirkle wouldn’t be where it is now,” she states, adding, “we have a strong team environment and I firmly believe in mutual respect.”

Kinsey’s approach is paying dividends, with a 100 per cent staff retention rate over the last 12 months coupled with eight new appointments, two at director level. She says the key is flexibility, and respecting the fact that people have a life outside of work. “I’m a demanding employer and I expect every one of my team to think beyond their job description, to deliver outstanding results and to contribute to the overall strategic direction of the company”, but adds that her staff are rewarded with “a healthy and happy working environment and the freedom to balance their work and personal lives.”

Over 90 per cent of Cirkle’s staff, for example, work at home on a Friday. Kinsey also has strong opinions on how to manage people through an economic downturn. She says, “there is a tendency in a recession to drive people ever-harder and to cut back on benefits”, but believes this is counter-productive, as: “supporting your team is a key management challenge and more relevant now than ever before. Through our ‘raising the bar’ initiative, we’re investing more in training than we have before.”

In fact, Kinsey has introduced a series of new benefits over the last 12 months. Perhaps the most remarkable one is how she has (somewhat humorously) “banned holidays” for her directors on her leadership team, where they no longer have a set number of days, but have total control of their diaries as if they were mini company owners. “For a creative industry, it never fails to amaze me how so many agencies treat their staff as if we were still in the Dark Ages.”

If Kinsey wasn’t in PR, she confesses she’d be a personal trainer. Her passion for fitness is omnipresent throughout the business and she is constantly introducing initiatives to help support people in their fitness goals. All her staff are offered a ‘ditch the duvet day’ to invest in their own physical, mental or spiritual well being, part funded by the company. These have included a sky dive, a yoga retreat and refurbishing a children’s playground. Kinsey is an advocate of the ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ school of thought, and has taken part in a charity triathlon and run a half marathon in the last three months alone.

Managing a business, bringing up two teenage daughters and pounding the pavements would certainly appear to be a demanding schedule, but Kinsey’s mantra is “It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure.”

Career History1998: Set up Cirkle
1994: Head of PR at McVitie's
1990: Joined McVitie's as marketing manager for Jaffa Cakes and HobNobs
1989: Worked in marketing in Belgium for Colgate
1986: Joined Colgate Palmolive as marketing graduate recruit

Creative Moment Awards 2020