MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Lily Hawkins, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment: Positive Workplace Wellbeing For All

Lily Hawkins is Head of Brand and Culture with M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment – an award-winning marketing agency that specialises in helping connect brands to consumers via their passions. She is also a speaker at the digital MAD World Summit.

MAD stands for Make A Difference. The MAD World Summit is the global go-to solutions-focused event for employers dedicated to accelerating the shift from stigma to solutions, turning talk into action and moving workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing mainstream.      

In this interview Lily gives a sneak peek of the perspective she’ll be bringing to the digital MAD World Summit agenda on 8 October.

Please tell us a bit about your professional background at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment. How did you come into your role looking after workplace mental health and wellbeing?

I started working for the M&C Saatchi Group nearly 7 years ago and 5 of those have been with M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment London.

At M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, mental health and wellbeing for our employees has always been a huge priority and is something we are very passionate about as individuals.

Every year we commit to partnering with a charity, on a pro-bono basis, that is close to the team’s heart. Back in 2017 we partnered with CALM  (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) to join the movement against suicide as a number of our team have been directly and indirectly effected. Since then, we have continued to build on our programme and range of initiatives.

Back in 2018, myself and Becca-Jane (who works for another agency in the M&C Saatchi Group) decided to set up and co-chair The Together Network created as part the M&C Saatchi Group Diversity and Inclusion Group employee-led networks.

The Together Network aims to help all employees in the M&C Saatchi Group, at every level of the organisation, to get in touch with their physical and mental health.

We focus on three pillars – raising awareness of our physical and mental wellbeing, providing support for those in need and promoting positive wellbeing for all. We run a series of events including training, talks and recreational events to equip everyone with actionable and useful tips and tricks to implement into their daily lives

And we have worked closely with HR to implement policy change, systems and resources to make a difference for all.

In 2019 we were incredibly proud to have been awarded the Healthy workplace Foundation 2019 by the Mayor of London.

How long has M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment had a support programme for staff mental health and wellbeing? Is this a national or international programme?

Health and wellbeing has always been a priority for us at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment London. Our team put their heart and soul into their work, and working in passions means that they love the industry and are very committed.

Over the past 5 years we have developed and implemented a programme catered to the needs of our people here at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment London. We also have 5 further M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment offices around the world (Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney) all of which have tailored initiatives.

The Together Network also supports every single employee in the M&C Saatchi London Group (13 agencies in the UK alone) and a number of the markets worldwide have also introduced employee-led networks.

What would you say have been the most effective aspects of your workplace mental health and wellbeing programme?

Over the past few years we have introduced various soft initiatives which enable our team to lead happy, healthy and balanced lives including Happy Hours which gives everyone one hour during the working week (in addition to lunchbreaks!) to get out of the office (or home office!) and do whatever makes them happy: weekly exercise classes; a run club; agile and flexible working; funds for each individual to up-skill and do something which they are passionate about.

There are however two platforms that we use that without a doubt have revolutionised our programme.

We were the first agency in our space to implement Open Blend, an online tool which monitors employees’ wellbeing and drives continued performance. It has enabled more open conversations than ever before as each employee has a safe space every month to discuss their confidence, stress and wellbeing levels with line managers and ensures they are receiving the individual support they require to thrive.

All managers are given training to equip them to have effective coaching conversations, with the aim of empowering employees to unlock workable solutions that help them blend their working and home lives in a positive way that suits them.

86% of our team recognised an increased confidence, ability to manage stress and happiness since implementing Open Blend and it has led us to create tailored approaches for every single employee.

Most recently we partnered with Kooth. We had more people using the system in the first week than we had with our previous Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offering in the past year, which says it all.

The easy-to-access, anonymous services which include online counselling, training and access to a wide variety of resources means that there is something for every individual. This year we’ve now rolled out the service across the entire M&C Saatchi Group in London.

Since COVID-19 what has been the most effective aspect of your workplace mental health and wellbeing programme?

Kooth has been vital for us to provide individual support to every single employee during an incredibly stressful and turbulent time where people are faced with very different challenges. It offers individual solutions, is easy-to-use, accessible from anywhere and totally anonymous. The system also links together all of our services including sessions with our in-house therapist and private healthcare. This means it’s seamlessly integrated and robust.

Is there anything you’d like to share about your participation in the session “Mental health: the next frontier in diversity, inclusivity and belonging” at the digital MAD World Summit on 8th October?

I’m absolutely delighted to be asked to join the panel and look forward to discussing and sharing on such an important subject.

Lily Hawkins will be joining us as a speaker at the MAD World Summit – the global go-to digital event for employers who want to Make A Difference to workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing – taking place 8 October. We are also running Make a Difference Summit US in Association with Mind Share Partners on 15 October and Make a Difference Summit Asia on 11 November, 2020. Pick and choose the content most relevant to you or attend all the digital events with our Global Pass. You can find out more and register here.