By Jo Lyall, Managing Director, Mindshare UK
We’ve all had those training days before – when you’re stuck in a meeting room for three hours in front of a dry PowerPoint presentation with a monotone voice-over.
The question is: why are training days stuck in a time warp of whiteboards and handouts, when the overall workplace experience has been transformed in the last two decades?
We now live in an age of invention – a time when organisations must embrace continuous learning and change to remain in tune with people’s interests, desires and needs. This is just as true for brands as it is for employers. The workplace is undergoing a rapid process of consumerisation, and employees are coming to expect the same tailored experience at work as they do in their private lives.
Creating a festival of learning, not lecturing
At Mindshare, we’ve created an annual festival-style event called Huddle, which looks to meet shifting expectations of the overall workplace experience. Graduating from its humble beginnings as a ‘time-out’ from the day-to-day humdrum of work to discuss big ideas with our peers and clients, Huddle has now grown to become a fully-fledged, industry-leading festival.
We knew that by combining minds and skillsets with people outside our own business, we would become stronger and more confident, yet the serendipitous surprise was that our employees also thought it was the best training session they’d ever had. Since then, we’ve supplemented traditional training sessions with opportunities to expand the mind, discuss ideas, and exchange knowledge – and Huddle is the biggest manifestation of that ethos. The event has now evolved to become a positive platform for our employees and industry professionals across tech, media and business to engage with one another, celebrate collaboration and entrepreneurship, and discuss the biggest shifts taking place across society.
Our most recent Huddle saw over 2,000 attendees take part, and featured sessions involving influencers from a host of brands, marketers, celebrities, and social media sites. From the likes of Google and YouTube, to academics and public figures (think Love Island alumni and Made in Chelsea stars), the festival catered to every interest, and allowed employees to craft a completely unique experience that met their specific needs.
Every year I’m constantly surprised by the innovative work showcased at Huddle. Not just that, but also the breadth the topics explored, the conversations held, and the vibrant atmosphere, which are reflective of the diverse and rich talent housed within the media industry. Huddle serves as a reminder that our jobs should actually revolve around talking about human beings, and to engage with our clients beyond delivering results.
Nurturing employee growth every day
As an agency, we help brands fuse the power of media, technology and people, into extraordinary experiences that capture the imagination and enhance the performance of brands. We do this by making putting audience insight at the heart of every brand interaction – an ethos we’ve sought to apply internally as well.
At a time when rapid innovation has become a modus operandi for many organisations, it’s crucial to foster a working culture which celebrates provocation and continuous curiosity. Central to this, is reflecting on how we engage as human beings, despite a pervasive digital backdrop. The theme of our latest Huddle, ‘The New Era of Influence’ certainly brought this philosophy to life.
Nonetheless, hosting an event for just one day can never be enough to develop such a culture – no matter how spectacular it is. Instead, employers should look to embed a culture centred on speed, provocative thinking and teamwork, through year-round initiatives.
Integral to this, is understanding the role that employee wellbeing plays in fostering a high-performance culture, 365 days a year. Supporting the holistic wellbeing of employees, at work or at play, means investing time into understanding their personal needs, which can then lead to growth for both the individual and the company.
By offering flexibility to employees – perhaps by giving them space to be parents, study, or pursue a passion project that matters to them – pressure will ease at work, resulting in a more creative and energetic office. This is by no means an impediment to productivity; I was able to continue my career in the media industry whilst simultaneously training to be a nutritionist. With Mindshare giving me the space to explore my personal interests outside of my professional career, I was able to come to work as a much more engaged and fulfilled employee, and I hope my story can encourage and inspire others to do the same and follow their own passion projects.
Just as consumer expectations of brands are becoming more fluid, so too are expectations around working life. Today, employees expect their place of work to flex to their needs, instead of the other way around. In the era of workplace consumerisation, it has never been more imperative that businesses start to listen.
About the author
Jo Lyall is the Managing Director of Mindshare. She is responsible for growth and new product development as well as for creating client satisfaction and maintaining a happy and high-performing workforce.
Over a 20-year career in media, she has worked in almost every area of the business. Spending the first 10 years working in digital where, ultimately, she became Head of Digital and launched Mindshare Social. Over the next 8 years she went on to set up and lead Invention, our content and partnership team. Following this she ran the Planning department as Chief Planning Officer. She built the first generation of planners with the ability to blend digital, offline and social planning to create effective and innovative solutions to our clients’ marketing challenges.