In this episode of the PRovoke Media Podcast, Olga Fleming, CEO of Marina Maher Communications (MMC) and Diane Fakhouri, former chief people officer of MMC and current chief people officer, US, at Ketchum, join to discuss the importance of employee wellbeing programs and how MMC created their own after hearing from employees that it was an imperative in today’s work environment.

Fakhouri says that until recently, leadership felt more was more. The company, like many others in its space, offered a slew of benefits, but they weren’t all being utilized, and they weren’t meeting employees’ needs.

“We used to think that you should have a billion different things, and everybody will be happy,” she said. “What we’ve learned is less is more — you should have a couple of key things. And those key things should be really well done. At the top of the list, the number one thing that our employees wanted during the pandemic was the wellness program. Since then, it’s been evolving, but this year, it’s all about mind, body and soul. And that was even through their feedback.”

Fleming is proud of the company’s wellness program, but throughout the conversation, she expresses the importance of an overall culture change. Programs are good, but they are nothing without transparency and vulnerability from top leadership. That’s why she has made a conscious effort to make sure her door is open for anyone who wants to chat. About anything.

“For me, in leading this agency, I make it very well known that anyone can come to me, good, bad, ugly, I want to know, I want to hear, and I want to know and hear in the moment,” she said. “I have open office hours, where anybody can come. One hour, once a week, anyone can talk about anything. We could talk about things that are keeping people up at night, or things that they’re excited about, things that they need help with, an upcoming vacation, or who knows, a book that they’ve read or show that they’re watching. I think the whole culture of an organization needs to change for people to feel open to come in, knock on somebody senior’s door and say, ‘Hey, you know the email you sent out? It wasn’t great.’”

This episode is produced in partnership with MMC. MMC and Ketchum are both a part of the Omnicom PR Group.

Key moments  

0:00 Introductions
3:58 Research proves wellness is poignant today
8:19 Building a new culture for new staff
13:07 Everyone’s asking: Why do we work?
19:45 Don’t be afraid of employee input
24:02 Obtaining authentic feedback from employees
27:01 Culture can’t be changed overnight
32:30 Catering to remote employees
37:00 Everyone’s experimenting