Our latest webinar ‘Driving Business Transformation In Media: Innovational Change, Diversity & The Future of Work' might just be our favourite one yet- which we can thank our speaker panel for! We were fortunate enough to have Alex Mowle, Global People Lead across The &Partnership, Hazel Boyle, Chief People Officer at Wunderman Thompson, Richard Mayhew, Chief People Officer EMEA at Edelman and Ruth Smyth, Vice President International People Strategy at Publicis Sapient. Facilitated by CMG's very own MD, Caroline Foote, it was a conversation based on insight and expertise on:
Transformation and the change of pace during lockdown
Creating and inclusive culture and fully engaged workforce
The future of work and the ch
allenges that come with it
The hybrid workplace
Webinars provide a space for an open and honest conversation that can be helpful to anyone navigating the themes in question themselves. This is why we have collated the top insights from our speaker panel.
Churchill once said to never waste a good crisis. And we’ve never had more crises to ensure we make good use of than in the last 12 months! For a function that has historically been underinvested in within this industry, People and Culture has been thrust to the centre of almost every agency’s strategic priorities. This presents prime opportunities to exponentially accelerate progress toward a fairer, more open and exciting way of doing business. Old barriers, such as being resigned to the client demands that prohibit healthy working practices, have been chipped away at or completely broken down.
At The&Partnership, we’ve looked at how the difficulties and disruptions we’ve faced over the last year could lead to new shifts that could bring us competitive advantage. For example, we realised we could use remote working to break old silos and deliver for our clients in an agile new way – allowing work to follow the sun and tapping into pockets of excellence and capacity around the globe. We delivered innovative solutions that we may never have come up with in the timelines we did if we didn’t bring these people together in this wa
y. It was great for our people and fantastic for our clients.
Likewise for DEI. We now have metrics for equity, inclusion and diversity baked into our business 5-year plan, with each agency leader accountable for driving the systemic changes that will deliver these commitments.
Things that previously might take several years to secure buy-in to, have become central to agencies’ success – and even survival. It’s our job to capitalise on it.
I describe Wunderman Thompson as the oldest newest start up, two well established, historic businesses coming together to create something shiny and new. Much of it done during the pandemic and over the last 18 months. What a time to integrate, to transform and to develop a new business, and for me personally, what a time to start a new role as CPO.
Four ingredients have helped us integrate, drive new business and build new teams –
1) Strong leadership
2) Brilliant resilience, inspiration and creativity from our colleagues
3) Clear communication
4) Living and breathing our behaviours to inspire growth for ambitious brands.
We’ve Listened at all times during the pandemic to what’s important, we’ve shown great positivity during difficult times, isolated at home from colleagues and friends. We have shown creative bravery with clients and through our work and we have very definitely been in it together during this time. Really living our behaviours coupled with these simple but important ingredients have enabled us to drive transformation in all parts of our business and I am proud of everyone for what they have been able to achieve during these unusual times.
Change comes in all shapes and sizes but one thing is certain, standing still is not an option. With all change even the smallest steps are progress and with culture change and D&I it feels like small steps are often taken but perhaps bolder steps are required. We often have time to plan, prepare and deliver change programmes however the pandemic didn’t give us that luxury. It was hard work but exhilarating at the same time. Look how quickly we all adapted. Perhaps we need to apply some of this agility of thinking to D&I as educating our way out of the current environment will take years and I think we owe it to our colleagues to accelerate.
Data and partnerships are 2 steps forward, holding a mirror up and reaching out for help. We can’t to this ourselves, re-treading the same paths, small incremental steps when large strides forward are needed. We need to get creative, collaborate more widely, make more informed overt decisions and use technology to aid us as we try to avoid our unconscious biases.
Embracing new flexible approaches to work requires trust. Trusting staff to be in the right place at the right time to get the work done. Output rather than presentism needs to be the new measure. Then we don’t need a policy stipulating a number
of days in the office, employees can decide that themselves. As adults we appreciate the need for connectivity, collaboration and thinking of the customer first. That should inform our decision-making about where to get the work done not the policy saved on the shared drive.
I am embracing the new normal but already looking forward to the next new normal.
We transformed overnight, it’s in our DNA.
In 2018 we realigned to a new DBT business strategy, then came a new brand name, logo, refreshed core values, aligning our practices etc. We were only in our 2nd year of our own transformation when the biggest transformational curve ball of the pandemic landed. On day 1 we were at home & working, being agile is in our DNA so we didn’t stop to think, we just did & stayed focused on our clients.
There have been many highs, and quite a few lows, but as I am a glass half full person. As I reflect back on the last 12 months my goal is to look at what is in fact better as a result of the changes of the last year to our workforce. With that in mind, these are some concepts that we would still look to take forward with us:
Offering more flexible work practices to attract more diverse talent- especially women into tech roles
Remote working has now been proven to work – it was harder before as we perceived clients woul
d say no. It actually benefits us by connecting experts in other countries to support our clients
Regional remote L&D – we made all on boarding and regional L&D virtual. One great example was creating Safe Space Leadership sessions to support 300 leaders across International – we could not do that in an office.
Mental Health support - its now ok to say you are not ok. In a billable work place, this is a big step forwards
Streamlining communication & over communicating to keep teams together and informed. We had a monthly Global Townhall run by our Global CEO with an open Q&A, and we would follow up with Leader Packs to enable country leaders to ensure there was consistent messaging. We launched a weekly newsletter & shared stories about our people. For our 30th Anniversary, we built a virtual office, so people could reconnect.
People want to be part of the change - we had regional COVID workgroups – managed key decisions & shared best practice globally, such as play books created on how to use new tools, people offering tutoring to GCSE kids etc.
Now we are focused on the Future of Work - in countries opening up eg Australia, we are seeing a desire to come back in – people have missed the collaboration & the in person connection with colleagues. We are embracing a Hybrid model for 2021 into 2022. We want to take the best of 2020 & weave it into our new norm. So my key insight is change never stops, its best to embrace it & shape it to support your people and your business goals.
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