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Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service

Company: Ad Exchange Group, Irvine, CA USA
Nomination Category: Employer of the Year - Advertising, Marketing, & Public Relations


Entry Title: Ad Exchange Group



Performance-based, cost-per-acquisition digital marketing is an exciting frontier in advertising, but it is not an industry that is popularly known or understood. Because of the industry’s relatively obscure profile, Ad Exchange Group (ADEX) gives its Human Resources department a bit of a challenge in competing for talent in a highly competitive hiring market riddled with shiny marquee companies.

The success of our company largely depends on each individual team member and the way they work with each other. Although the usual requisites – experience, education, certification, references – remain relevant, cultural fit is the most important element in the hiring process. This belief guides the entire screening process. One of the tools ADEX uses is a 180+ question personality survey through Lighthouse Consulting that helps the management team understand and visualize their own strengths and characteristics, balance team dynamics, and anticipate how best to utilize new team members. Not only is it eye-opening for the hiring team, the candidate gets to see, analyze and discuss the results.

ADEX prioritizes the development of its team. Accountants get school reimbursements to work up to getting their CPA licenses. Tech team members are sent to week-long boot camps to learn how to right tech requirements. The company even sponsors individuals to take personal development courses that aim to break down self-limiting beliefs, improve emotional intelligence, and build healthy, productive habits. In addition, the company’s performance reviews, which are firmly rooted in its Competency Model , a set of standards by which all team members are measured and that explicitly allow employees and supervisors to discuss work performance and map out plans for growth.

Especially for a startup-sized workforce of 33, it was important to cultivate feelings of ownership in the existing team members and honor their myriad contributions in the nascent years. ADEX issues phantom equity stock to all employees, with a total equivalent cash value of about $3 million, and the generous annual bonus unites the importance of individual, department, and company performance.

Compensation and benefits are undeniable touchstones in the realm of HR, but what truly sets ADEX apart from other companies is its lighthearted but resonant culture of wellness, self-development, social service, and high morale, giving employees much more to look forward to than just a paycheck.

For the body, free yoga classes are provided in office, gym access is available onsite, and the company sponsors employee participation in popular races such as the Spartan Sprint and the Wipeout Run. Schedules are flexible, as management thoughtfully accounts for the unpredictability of life. Working remotely is generally allowed with the well-established understanding, trust and communication between supervisors and employees.

For the heart, fun-filled events are held regularly to entertain and engage the workforce, such as bowling competitions, pool and ping-pong tournaments, company-sponsored lunches, and holiday parties. The most popular event is Love Week, during which employees draw names and must perform an act of kindness, big or small, every day of the work week for their person anonymously until the Friday when identities are revealed, often with hilarious result.

For the soul, ADEX corporate social responsibility events such as clothing drives for Working Wardrobes, charity auctions for Colette’s Children’s Home, and a full day of volunteering at Someone Cares Soup Kitchen in Costa Mesa for CEO Peter Nguyen’s birthday.

ADEX currently averages about $3 million in revenue per employee due to the marriage of smart business decisions and creative human resource initiatives. The company’s greatest assets walk out the door every evening, and a great deal of time and energy has been to ensure they return rejuvenated, inspired, joyous, and just a little bit better each day. A company is only as good as its employees, and ADEX employees are supported to be the best that they can be.

Employer of the Year Summary

- Employs in-depth personality survey for vetting candidates
- Competency model measures work performance and helps map out areas that need focusing for career growth
- Company-wide investments made in professional and self-development through academic reimbursements, sponsored boot camps, and sponsored self-development seminars.
- Phantom stock issued to employees with total cash equivalent of about $3M
- Annual performance bonus ties individual, department, and company performance together when rewarding employees to instill a sense of togetherness in success
- Health and fitness initiatives such as yoga, gym membership, and athletic races sponsored by ADEX
- Company engages employees through memorable experiences such as holiday parties, in-office game tournaments, etc.
- Corporate Responsibility Days are promoted to employees to encourage them to give back to society
- Average revenue per employee is $3M