CARMEN FERNANDEZ DE ALARCON, CEO OF HAVAS SPAIN, SAYS AN EMPLOYEE-LED INTERNAL INITIATIVE HAS BOOSTED CONNECTION AND CULTURE IN THE VILLAGE.
“Happiness” is managed by a rotating committee of employees, who range in disciplines and seniority, and aims to draw everyone together through people-powered programming.
Here, Carmen explains the initiative and how empowering people within Havas Spain in this way has sparked meaningful connection and creativity.
What motivated the initiative and how does it work?
What I’ve learned in my career is that the most important thing is people. Ideas and creativity come from people. It’s very important that people within an organisation feel motivated, empowered and proud to belong. I wanted to create an internal communications programme, led by people – not by Human Resources or leadership. We had the idea to create a committee of people from Havas Creative, ranging in disciplines and seniority. We chose popular and influential people from all different areas of our business with the purpose of creating a unique team. They all work together to create events and programming for everyone. It was vital to choose committee members who were respected and popular with their peers, because we knew they would have the greatest impact. Giving the power to the committee has led to a lot of impactful programming for Havas Creative.
Tell us a little bit about the programming!
There’s a lot of things going on! On the last Friday of the month, we have our “It’s a Wrap” session, which draws together Madrid and Barcelona to talk about news and connect. When we were in the office, there was a hamburger involved, which is never a bad thing on a Friday! It’s a moment of sharing because often, you never interact with people of other teams or in other disciplines and that is so important.
The committee runs “Beers and Reels” sessions where we come together to explore the most powerful campaigns from around the world and also from within our own Village.
They also run a monthly recognition programme called “The Monthly Boss”, where everyone can vote based on different criteria according to our company values, through an online app, for a colleague who helped them the most that month. The winner gets an extra vacation day.
Another thing we do is, each month we choose six people from different disciplines to go for lunch together on the company. We call this activity “Random Meals”. They get to meet different colleagues and connect, without knowing who will be at the lunch!
Why does Happiness work so well?
What’s fantastic about it is that although I am the person that approves certain things, it is all about the people in the business. They come to me with their ideas and we see if it is possible or not. I picked the first committee, but this year’s committee was chosen by employees.
When you empower employees to create their own experience and culture, great things can happen. They are motivated and continuously creating new events and programming. When it is created by employees, other employees follow them.
It’s changed the culture in Havas Creative. It’s hard because before the pandemic we had an excellent momentum, but it’s been harder when we’re apart. We need human connection and working from home isn’t the same, so we’re looking forward to getting back to the office.
Do you think it would work in other Villages?
It would be fantastic if this initiative extended to other Villages because it really has made everyone so happy here in Havas Creative Spain. It makes me feel proud to have started something as meaningful as this. Right now, we’re getting ready for our Christmas party, where we will have a virtual cheers. We’ve prepared some bottles of Cava with a little cheese board which people can pick up at the office. It will be one hour when we will all have a little cheers to 2021. It has to be better than this one we’ve had, right?!