Our people are our business. Clients choose WPP companies because we employ the best. Attracting and retaining talent is a central business issue for WPP.

Our approach includes competitive remuneration, investment in training and development and a commitment to an inclusive workplace culture.

WPP’s Chief Talent Officer, Mark Linaugh, and our Talent Team have overall responsibility for attracting, developing and retaining our talent. Other human resources policies are agreed and implemented at operating company level. We have profiled examples throughout this section.

WPP employs 135,000 people (including employees at our associate companies) at 2,400 offices in 107 countries. Data in this section covers the 95,286 employees from wholly-owned WPP companies.

In the current economic climate many companies are reducing employee numbers. Our redundancy levels in 2008 remained at a similar level to previous years. In 2009, like all businesses in the current economy, we will monitor costs closely and re-size where appropriate.

In their own words

Rosemarie Ryan, Co-President JWT, NY

When I joined JWT five years ago, I was tasked with reinventing our agency for a rapidly-changing marketplace. We are living in a digital world that is transforming the way we work, live and play. Our clients need and expect us to help them navigate this new world.

At JWT, we are in the business of storytelling. People will always make sense of the world, of countries, of corporations and of brands through story. In a business where our people are our competitive advantage, it is critical that we put all our energy into creating an environment that fuels storytelling and creativity.

To foster dialogue and collaboration, we have literally and metaphorically pulled down the walls. There are no offices or departments. Everyone lives and works in open plan. Fifty percent of the space is shared, for people to get together and co-create. We’ve broken down silos and hierarchies, both of which are barriers to collaboration. We’ve created cross-functional teams, making us flatter and faster. People are recognized and rewarded for their ideas and ingenuity, not their title or their tenure. Creativity is not a department – it is a fundamental skill set – everyone is accountable for the end product, no matter what their role. Critically, we have infused the agency with new skill sets and perspective, in digital and design, so these are central to our thinking and solutions and not an afterthought. This integration is embedded into all disciplines.

Diversity is crucial. The more diverse our thinking, the better the work. We need to recruit from a wider pool and create an environment where people can challenge convention whatever their age, race, gender or culture. The industry has sometimes been slow to bring thinking in from the outside. We regularly invite outside experts and thought leaders to open our minds and keep us in touch with new ideas, thinking, technologies and trends.

People want to be part of a community. We have created events and programs that people can participate in around passion points, such as the environment and how we can reduce our carbon footprint, or social causes like NY Cares Day. Online we have created hubs and blogs that are places for discourse, sharing and ideas. At the center of our office is a café/bar and game room where people can go to relax and socialize. In a world and workplace that is 24/7, it’s critical that people have a space for downtime. This, in itself, is a great retention tool.

Rosemarie Ryan