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It might have a young and hip staff, but Virgin Radio is proud of the fact that it is tuned into their needs. A recently refurbished West End building is the station's creative hub. Arty photos of music legends adorn the walls and funky lighting twinkles from the ceilings. In the central "zoo" — an open area with a bar, a PlayStation and, of course, Virgin Radio on the speakers — staff and clients relax, have lunch, a cup of tea or a meeting. It is also where bands play live, performances which employees can often watch.
For presenters such as breakfast show host Christian O'Connell, the environment influences their job. "I feel inspired here, and that's really important for what I do. My job is to fire up the listeners' imagination, and that is something you can't force."
It is not traditional corporate benefits that motivate staff at Virgin Radio. A decent company pension contribution pales into insignificance for the young workforce when compared with two free passes for all staff to the annual V Festival.
"The V Festival is hard work but everyone loves it," says Clare Baker, marketing manager. Those who do the weekend festival stint get time off in lieu. Nice work if you can get it.
The social aspect of work is a high priority. Weekends away have included a trip to New York to get all the company together for a party.
Inclusiveness is at the heart of Virgin Radio. Promotions account manager Katherine Knapp, who grew up in Yorkshire, started four years ago and says: "When I moved to London, it was quite a scary time for me. I know it sounds corny, but people genuinely care for each other here. I've made some of the best friends I've ever had in my life."
Staff agree that team members care for each other and are fun to work, with 94% scores for each, the highest and second highest scores in this year's SME contest.
When the going gets tough, Virgin Radio staff pull together. People go out of their way to assist each other (87%) and feel the organisation acknowledges the value of their contribution (82%). Personal development is encouraged; three of the six people who make up the programming team have worked their way up from runner positions.
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