Havas Culture


Senior Writer and Editor
Hannah Lindley joined Havas Group in October 2021 as a Senior Writer and Editor. She has a background in corporate reputation management, journalism, and creative writing.
This week, we spoke with Lucile Dréano, CEO of HRCLS, and Jeanne Bariller, Deputy Director of Red Havas Health Paris and Associate Director of Havas Paris, to learn more about the new internal podcast launched by Havas Group, Les Gens.

How did this initiative come about? 

Lucile Dréano: It actually started over a year ago. After the various periods of lockdown, restrictions and remote working, some people hadn’t seen their colleagues for months, so it was really important to reconnect. The starting point was the brief from Fabrice, managing director of Havas Paris: how do we come together again? How do we rebuild the narrative of who we are, both inside and outside the company? To answer these questions, Havas Paris and HRCLS sat down for a frank and open discussion. Their first – and immediate – decision was to talk about anything and everything, but not work. And one question (relevant to every inhouse campaign) kept coming back: what would we like to know about our colleagues?

Jeanne Bariller: The idea was to get to know the faces behind the lab coats! The people behind the suits. The lives behind the online Teams meeting. The pandemic brought us into people’s living rooms. We could see the kids wandering past, the cat knocking over the pen holder… Suddenly our private lives were bang in the middle of the workplace – whether we liked it or not. Today, it’s something we’re used to. In some way, Les Gens (People) symbolizes this transformation and the interplay between home and work. We’ve come up with a universal way to get people talking about themselves and what makes them tick.

How do you select your ‘guests’?

Jeanne Bariller: Word of mouth. We really want it to be spontaneous. We want the spark to come from real-life conversations between friends and colleagues talking about their lives outside the workplace.

Lucile Dréano: We don’t want it to be official or formatted. The spontaneous approach keeps the whole thing authentic. “People talking to people” without intermediaries, without a filter. This is essential to keeping this idea intact: people with a talent that they’re happy to share.

What made you decide on podcasts? 

LD: Well, the whole idea is to get people to show another side of themselves to their colleagues. So, we needed to find a medium that would allow us to get close without being intrusive. And we wanted to have sufficient time, to avoid rushing either the speaker or the listener. Also, podcasts are “convenient”, we can “listen” to each other on the commute or in the office. And, let’s be honest, it’s cheaper too (laughter).

JB: It’s THE ideal format for breaking the ice and raising a smile with the unvarnished truth. I’m convinced that podcasts can get people to reveal their innermost selves. For the past five years, I’ve been working on communications for the Paris Podcast Festival – scheduled to open its doors at the Gaité Lyrique theatre today – and this year, we’re showcasing the ‘power of gentleness’. To my mind, this is the very essence of the podcast: a gentle format that makes us better people since we’re more open to others. This is also exactly what we need in the company.

Jeanne, you yourself took part in the first podcast, showcasing your talent as a clown. What did you get out of this experience?

JB: To start with, I had a great time. I’m a huge fan of Marc Fraize, who’s a professional clown, so it was fantastic to meet him. On a more serious note, as we explain during the episode, the microphone brings people closer! The podcast is the ultimate form of communication with the audience. And in this case, the audience public is the agency, my colleagues and even my employers.

LD: In Jeanne’s case, I would add that everybody is going to see her in a new light, as she reveals a more private part of her life. Today she’s a specialist in health influence at the agency; tomorrow people will discover that the theatre plays a big part in her life.

Although the guests say very little about their daily working lives, their involvement nevertheless strengthens our corporate culture. What does this say about Havas Paris?

JB: I don’t really believe in the idea of a “corporate culture”. To me, it seems contrived. I would say that when you join a company, you join a group of people, each with their own traits, personalities, and interests. That’s what we’re trying to say in this series. And if the podcast attracts new people to the company, then we’ll have succeeded.

LD: That’s a question we’ll need to put to the listeners! In my case, I’d say that the podcast naturally reflects diverse identities and backgrounds. Above all, it highlights the dialogue, encouraged by the agency, between people’s private pursuits that might seem far removed from their jobs, but that ultimately enrich them. What’s more, I believe this completely unfettered approach also says something about the company: nobody has given us a list of required participants, nobody has to give their stamp of approval. “People” say what they want to say. Period.

Lucile, HRCLS produces inhouse podcasts for many other clients. How is this format innovative in terms of employer branding? 

LD: The form is traditional, in the positive sense of the word, with all the classic features you would expect: a high-quality sound environment, a location that contributes to the meaning of the recording, an intimate – and mobile – conversation, the role of the person holding the microphone, and so on. In terms of content, however, we’ve ditched all the clichés that can still sometimes be part of internal or employer communications. There are no “three questions for”, no job descriptions, no telling us about your typical day or corporate purpose… At HRCLS, we prefer to take the byways and to challenge established viewpoints, for the sake of greater authenticity and accuracy.

With “People”, the main subject is not work or even the company. Paradoxically, by moving away from the subject of work, we’re able to talk about it more effectively, more sincerely, and more accurately.

To listen to the series in full, find it on all listening platforms: Spotify, Deezer, Apple podcast: to listen, click here.

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