By Ricarda Ruecker, Chief Talent Officer at MCN
We are living in a time that is both interesting and challenging, but also normalizing.
Covid-19 is seemingly moving further into the background and, as people travel and masks become more and more optional, we all seek normality in our lives and greater interaction with each other.
Business is growing and our MCN agencies are winning new assignments, which allowed us to increase the salaries of existing employees, hire new employees, pay out bonuses to more people than ever before, and invest in their growth and development. To accommodate new business this year, we had a 40% increase in recruiting for new positions in the region. We are also investing in product enhancements, new skills, and new capabilities – always considering how we can be the best business partner for our clients. It is our mission as MCN to help brands earn a meaningful role in people’s lives, and this starts by earning a meaningful role in our people’s lives.
Finding the right balance
Last year, the ‘Great Resignation’ was a big theme across sectors and countries. The new challenge is what I would call the continuous effort of the ‘Great Rebalancing.’ It’s about being focused on our people’s well-being while also focusing on growing our business and capabilities in tandem. Our people and our business are closely connected, and there is an interdependency – you cannot do one without the other for long-term success. Finding the right balance is the management and leadership challenge that is becoming more and more demanding and a critical success factor.
Looking back, the pandemic has triggered irreversible change in the way we work and interact. It has been a catalyst in implementing new working models with more flexibility in how we do business. It has also changed a lot the way we think and feel, how we look at life and what we expect from it, what matters to us, and how much are we willing to give, or to take. The search for the right work-life balance becomes more and more important in employees’ choices.
As companies, we must be proactive and find the best solutions to balance this interdependency; to further grow our business while being open-minded about new workplace solutions, as well as understanding and adapting to the changed needs and expectations of our employees.
Over the past two years, companies have been searching for the best solution to tackle the new way of working flexibly, trying different models. Many companies wanted to be very progressive and moved to full flexibility, letting people work fully from home or any place in the world. Others moved into a hybrid model. The summer opened up another possibility – can people work from anywhere in the world so that they can travel longer?
What is the right answer? I believe there is no right or wrong, per se. It depends on many factors in an organization: the sector it operates in, its business model, the size of its workforce, its state of maturity, its clients… the list goes on.
At MCN, we decided early on to move back to the office in a hybrid way. We are a people business, and we excel through close collaboration, by being truly connected in person through a culture of belonging and working as teams for and with our clients. Currently, our employees follow the 4+1 model – four days a week in the office and one day a week from home, rotated for fairness. 94% of our people are confident about managing their work in this hybrid setting.
Throughout the year and especially in summer, we encourage people to take their annual leave; they need to take time off work, spend it with their family and friends, travel, and unwind.
We provide an additional two days of Faith Holidays (beyond public holidays) to all employees to celebrate their respective cultural or religious festivities, as well as an extra day off to celebrate their birthday. This year, we will all collectively mark World Mental Health Day on October 10 as a day off work to focus on our well-being.
Initiatives to support mental health and well-being have become indispensable at MCN. I am very glad to see this subject becoming an integral part of more organizations. Based on our people’s request, we have added psychiatric treatment as part of our medical insurance and offer free mental health services with TruDoc 24x7 and our global EAP (Employee Assist Program), in addition to regular free webinars in partnership with Lighthouse Arabia. We have received so much positive feedback about this.
Well-being is also connected to physical well-being, and we encourage our people to be active and take time to exercise. We are already looking forward to actively rejoining the Dubai Fitness Challenge, with our entire organization participating, not only in Dubai. There are also other amazing examples like the fabulous MCN Charity Football Cup which we just completed, an excellent build-up to the year of the World Cup, with all agencies competing against each other. What an event! We discovered new talents, new bonds, an amazing fan crowd, and had lots of fun together beyond work.
We care about what our people think and we ask for their opinions because we want them to be active partners in moving our business forward. The latest Pulse engagement survey across all MCN agencies is testament to this. The results show that 84% of our employees are proud to work at their agencies – and we are very proud of this.
88% of our people trust and respect each other and 88% feel they can be their authentic selves while working in their agency. These are important results for us. We have made ESG, and specifically Conscious Inclusion, a strategic priority at MCN. We have formed the MCN Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council to collectively drive our DE&I agenda. For the fourth year, we are gathering all agencies in the region for our Day for Meaning 4.0 on September 14, to reflect and commit to locally relevant action plans in each agency towards driving consciously inclusive behavior, a culture of belonging, and employee engagement.
Looking ahead, 2023 will remain in flux as other big global challenges add to the complexities. There is the accelerating climate crisis with more natural catastrophes, like the floods Pakistan is currently suffering from. Europe is facing an energy crisis as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and economic pressures will likely mount due to increased inflation, currency devaluation in some markets, and an expected recession. Everything is connected in today’s world and the impact on people and businesses is borderless. Change is around us – all the time!
Even amid all this change, we have a clear strategy to move our business forward by making continuous efforts to put people first, prioritize our people’s job security, invest in their growth, take care of their wellbeing, and ensure their continuous development. Our ongoing, collective rebalancing is contributing to a workplace that shares a greater understanding of the many different elements that are shaping successful organizations today.
This article was published in Communicate's latest issue.