PeopleLikeUs: Putting People First

“At the end of the day, people don’t do business with businesses. They do business with people”, said Elbert McLaughlin, Partner of the super successful digital agency PeopleLikeUs. This statement really resonated with me and I was curious to see if this ‘nice idea’ was reflected throughout the company.

As we talked about the agency founded by the fabulous Romina Esquenazi, it became increasingly apparent that they had positioned ‘people first’ as the central goal of their service and workplace culture. PeopleLikeUs applies this mindset to all client relationships and contract decisions. They’ve also taken a lot of steps to empower their own employees and create an environment that enhances everyone’s lives.

PeopleLikeUs has a wide range of clients, from large international companies to smaller businesses and startups. They consistently looks for clients who share their values and see importance in not just the delivery of outstanding creative projects, but also building genuine relationships. It’s important for them to do work that everyone feels great about. “It’s always people first”, Elbert said multiple times in our interview. It was great to hear such a powerful determination to maintain a humanized company and service, especially in an agency that delivers on hundreds of projects a year.

This whiteboard is amazing! Enough said.

To keep up with such an impressive tempo, the team lives by a mantra of ‘‘always say yes”. When approached with a new challenge, PeopleLikeUs loves to dive deep into exploring, learning, and experimenting with new concepts and projects. This keeps their work interesting and their minds developing. This I believe is the key to their success as a company and a cohesive group.

People They Hire

PeopleLikeUs has a diverse team of incredible individuals. I spoke with Sergio Morales, their Director of Special Projects. His enthusiasm and spirit was incredible. He spoke of how well the team works together and how leadership maintains a creative and organic structure. When the company hires, they are intentional about remaining lean and strategic. They look carefully for people who share their company values and nicely fit the atmosphere as well.

People skills are an absolute must to work for PeopleLikeUs. It only makes sense for a company set up on strong core values of relationship-building and togetherness. Team members and new hires need to be engaged with teammates and clients. That means recruiting people who are happy, positive, and have exceptional interpersonal skills.

Elbert personally feels that it’s difficult to separate work from life, especially when you enjoy your work. If you absolutely love creating and have a supportive and free environment to do so, a ‘job’ can be some of the most stimulating hours of your week. It’s all above loving what you do. When you love it, it doesn’t feel like work.

Where They Work

I was full of envy when I discovered where their office is located. I’ll definitely be stopping by to visit them next time I’m in Old Montreal. It is one of the most gorgeous urban neighbourhoods in Canada. Follow the cobblestone streets to the corner of Saint-Pierre and Saint Sacrament and you’ll find the PeopleLikeUs office. Their open-concept interior is filled with historical character and charm. Exposed stone adds a beautiful accent wall in the bright, warmly-lit space. Not to mention, they have huge white boards. It’s a dream come true for those who love an expansive space to map out ideas and plaster the walls with sticky notes.

Workplace Culture

PeopleLikeUs maintains a flat organizational structure as much as possible. Other than a few key roles, they’d avoided any hierarchy, and employees enjoy opportunities to lead on various projects. Elbert spoke a lot about the value of empowering the team. He recognizes the importance of autonomy and creative freedom.

To create great working relationships and communication, PeopleLikeUs has set up ‘traditions’ that gather the team for fun and collaboration. They have breakfast together on Mondays, ‘Town Hall’ meetings to end the week on Fridays, and lots of off-sites for a change of space and energy. They share the same open space, and switch up their desks every quarter so everyone has an opportunity to get to know each other and work with new people.

Workplace culture is more than just a cool office and great work perks. Romina and Elbert are well aware of this, and have made an effort to go above to ensure employees enjoy their day-to-day and feel rewarded. They’ve instituted a ‘Unicorn Trophy’ to recognize and appreciate stellar work, and use an app called Officevibe to track employee engagement and satisfaction. The team also spends a lot of time together celebrating both work and personal achievements. If you follow their Instagram, you’ll also see the also have a love for elaborate birthday cakes.

Want to work for PeopleLikeUs?

Elbert and Romina have drawn on their creative backgrounds and past experience to build a company focused on great people and great work. They’ve made a conscious effort to hire, train, and encourage relationship-focused mindsets. PeopleLikeUs is currently looking for out-of-the-box innovators who share their core value of putting people first. To learn more about their organization and see their job openings, check them out here.

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