In my latest video, I break down how swimming teaches us the importance of these relationship-building efforts and the specifics of what we as leaders need to nurture with our teams.
In an effort to simplify the decision-making process, we're sharing some of the trends we've seen with gifting over the years. We're even sharing our best seller and why that gift had such success.
Last year we had the opportunity to work with one of our clients in the travel and tourism space to design an experience that delivered their highest engagement yet.
Agency life is fast-paced, full of high expectations and high levels of stress. Creating a work environment that acknowledges employees' lives outside of work is becoming more essential in order to stay competitive as an employer. We’ve talked a lot about nurturing relationships with the outside community and that often comes at the expense of those inside.
I asked to talk with my next guest because of some very interesting benefits I heard her share during a panel discussion on retention. Janet Casey is the President and Founder of Marketing Doctor, a media buying agency.
What caught my attention most in this discussion about hiring and retaining was when Janet shared, “we can be better to the human side of our employees.” I wanted to know more about this person who so clearly understands that if we’re going create a thriving company then we must be the type of company that completely acknowledges the full being – All roles that a person plays in life that make them who they are and how they show up.
Janet has spent 30 years in advertising. When she was young, she tells me she worked in broadcast television, and it was truly a hostile work environment for women. Especially when you were a mother. She grew up in a world where having a family and taking care of them, meaning that you were often shamed and even penalized.
Coming from this environment, when she started her own company, she wanted to make sure that the culture was different. She wanted to make sure that she created a community that acknowledges people have lives outside of work. One that fosters a supportive and empathic environment so that employees are actually encouraged to live their lives.
Janet told me that “Covid forced employers to recognize the fact that life comes first. Some people can’t do that 40-hour week, every single week, consistently. They didn’t do it willingly. Covid forced them to adjust.”
Living in the sandwich generation, Janet, herself, juggles school-aged children along with aging parents. She completely understands that “working people have lives outside of our job and we have people to care for.”
One of the changes we’re seeing since we began adjusting to life through Covid, is the renewed emphasis on nurturing relationships with employees. Company loyalty had been a thing of the past for many organizations, but given the economic turbulence in recent years, and the recruiting challenges many faced, retention is something that many would love to report positively.
So, what does this look like for employers? Well, for one, they are no longer turning a blind eye to the reality that their staff members have lives outside of work. Instead, they are striving to accommodate the needs of their employees with programs related to childcare, eldercare, or personal time. This shift is starting to create a more compassionate and understanding work environment.
When I asked Janet how Marketing Doctor has implemented best in class programs to promote this healthy work-life balance, she shared what they launched in 2022.
Marketing Doctor’s newest employee benefit is a Sabbatical. Any employee who has been with their company for five years, receives three additional weeks of vacation, which can be added to the three weeks of regular vacation they receive. Janet said, “this gives the employee three consecutive weeks with no contact from the office! I’ve never been so happy to offer something.”
On top of that, at eight years with the company, the employee will receive another three weeks, but this time the company kicks in some money for their trip. Basically, the format the Marketing Doctor is in the process of testing is that every three years, an employee can take a sabbatical.
Imagine a working environment where making use of this opportunity is encouraged. It’s likely not surprising to say that a company could expect the following benefits:
Improved Employee Retention: When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to stay with the company long-term. This type of culture sees a reduction in cost of turnover.
Increased Productivity and Engagement: When employees are motivated, they are engaged and actively contributing to the overall success and morale of the company. They are more productive and add more to the company's bottom line.
Enhanced Reputation: Companies that focus on employee well-being and work-life balance are more likely to be recognized as great places to work. Their employees often become their biggest recruiters and ambassadors.
Reduced Burnout and Improved Mental Health: Encouraging employees to disconnect through sabbaticals allows people to refresh their well-being. It limits burnout and likelihood of anxiety from being overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted on a regular basis.
We wouldn’t be who we are as strategic gifting experts if we didn’t think about the potential to elevate this employee benefit a bit more. While it is already a memorable moment that the employee can take three weeks away and just live, there is still some potential on the table if we leave it at that.
Between the three years that the employee gets to make use of the first and second sabbaticals, the company could leverage the first time away to create another boost of positive emotional association.
To do this, the team could:
Upon the employee’s return, schedule a welcome back “event”. If the team is in an office setting, decorate the employee’s workspace or gather for lunch with treats. Do something to make the employee feel immediately excited to share stories of their time away (making them feel understood and acknowledged).
If you know the employee used the time away to travel or do something very memorable, buy them a new desk frame and tell them you want to see them fill it with their best picture from their time away. This always puts a positive memory of their experience in front of them while they work. Reflection will make them feel good about a goal achieved and your company will be attached to it.
About a year out from the next opportunity for a sabbatical, present the employee with some token of inspiration related to what their next time away could look like. If you know they want to travel again, give them some sort of item related to the travel. If it’s family time, give them some sort of family themed quote to sit on their desk. This action is placing a future goal in front of them to motivate and inspire them to work toward the next achievement. This once again, emotionally connects the employee to the company.
Offering sabbaticals is already a great employee benefit, and yet there is still so much more potential to enhance its impact. Creating more positive emotional associations through these extra personal touches will inspire them toward their next goal and foster a more engaged and motivated workforce. This not only benefits the employee, but also has a positive impact on the overall company culture. Elevating the experience of sabbaticals can be a simple yet powerful way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to their employees' well-being and professional growth on an on-going basis.
Creating a best-in-class culture for employees is essential in today's competitive business landscape. By nurturing relationships with staff members and offering generous benefits, companies can enjoy the advantages of a motivated, engaged, and excited workforce.
If you need help with ideas for creating experiences that showcase that your company cares and taps into the culture you’ve established, we’re always happy to help. Our goal is to help leaders show their community that they are valued and cared for. It's time to embrace a more empathetic and supportive approach to employee well-being. Join us for one of our upcoming Q&As and we can talk through ideas for your brand. Or schedule some time to talk and we can discuss an approach that would fit your needs. Click here to set up a Marketing Strategy Session.