The Importance of Workplace Culture


Business events industry leaders share insights on how culture helps woo — and keep — employees.

By Jack Carter, Untangled

When it comes to talent acquisition and retention, there is little margin for error. Get it right and the rewards could be endless. Get it wrong and a successful and high-yielding team could lose its balance. So how can the business events industry deal with such challenges?

Natalie Ackerman

“Having a positive company culture is absolutely critical in this industry. This is what motivates our people, while also being imperative for talent attraction and talent retention,” said Natalie Ackerman, executive vice president of Greater China at Jack Morton Worldwide.

Event agencies pride themselves on their ability to be creative and champion innovation. An office full of event planners is a high-energy environment, which means, experts say, it is vital that senior management can create a company culture that fuels passion for great work. “It manifests in the work and the ideas that we share with our clients,” Ackerman said.

With studies finding that today’s employees are more likely than previous generations to frequently change jobs, talent retention is arguably the biggest challenge organizations face.

Creating a workplace culture that allows talent to flourish is said to be one of the many ways organizations and businesses are able to keep hold of their most valued team members. Whether it’s by initiating peer mentorship schemes or bringing in outside expertise as part of a wider training programme, creating an environment where employees can increase their abilities is seen as a great way to create loyalty.

Dionne Holder

“A positive company culture fosters and encourages success,” said Dionne Holder, managing director of China for FreemanXP. “Staff feel motivated to improve themselves and support their colleagues, which in itself contributes to good team work.

“Freeman as a whole has an extremely positive company culture. We have employees who have been with the company for more than 30 years, who are dedicated blue fans (named after our corporate colour) and whose children have even chosen to work in the company.”

How are companies encouraging a culture of learning? Jack Morton Worldwide organises weekly sharing sessions so staff can learn about new technologies and products over drinks at the end of the day.

“Our industry moves quickly,” Ackerman said. “There are new technologies, new platforms, and always the latest trends that we need to [get] across. [The meetings] are a good way to get our employees to relax at the end of the day, while learning about cool products that will help deliver creative and interactive ways of engaging with our clients’ audiences.”

At FreemanXP, Holder said, rather than training staff for specific job skills, senior management trains them in life skills that can be useful for the future. “We believe in training and staff engagement activities. We do language classes cross departmentally with our teams, since we have such a multicultural office. We have also experimented with mindfulness sessions in one of our offices in order for the teams to better deal with the daily stress of our industry.”

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