Feeling Happy, Healthy or Hungry?

February 15, 2023

What do you get if you put a call out to the agency to lead a part of the business? A bunch of brilliant ideas and a new Head of Happy, Head of Healthy and Head of Hungry on a mission to build a better agency, that’s what.

I’m a good ten years older than half of our team. A slightly depressing thought I had recently.

Not that age should come into things. But when you’re changing the way you do things to build a new agency, it shouldn’t start with seniority or the number of grey hairs on your head.  

It’s a team sport.

And when you’ve built a team of talented, enthusiastic, positive people, every single one has the potential to add a piece of brilliance to the business. Who cares if they’re a junior copywriter or a business director? If they’re 21 or 41? If they’ve been with the company for four weeks or four years? Lurking within each person there’s the potential to make things better. It’s about providing the platform to bring it out.

The ‘old us’ did a lot of good things for our people. A ‘future us’ trip to Fiji, weekly training and development, mental health support and regular knees-ups.

But in our book, good isn’t good enough (one of our new behaviours).

So when it came to changing how we do things to help our people be their best, we empowered them to lead. We don’t have all the answers - and we’re not afraid to say so.

Two months ago, we opened up applications for a Head of Happy, Head of Healthy and Head of Hungry (that’s development not food-related), from anyone in the agency. The opportunity to lead a hugely important part of the business and make a difference to the lives of those around them every day.

But not just on top of their day job. With the role comes a salary increase, dedicated days per month, budget, resources and ongoing check-ins to help make things happen.

We were blown away, not just by the response, but the ideas too. The enthusiasm with which people embraced the opportunity just served to show what brilliant minds (and people) we have within the agency. Not afraid to put in the effort - for clients and each other.

Like always, it was a tough gig picking three from a pool of thirty to ‘get the job’. Those chosen (Kate, Designer; James, Senior Creative; Garry, Account Manager) might not be the loudest voices in the room, but their diversity of opinions, ideas and all round energy to help build our people into happy, healthy, hungry monsters is something we can be sure of.

Three weeks in, we’ve already seen the impact that entrepreneurial spirit and energy can have. The vibes are great, there’s less sick days being taken and we have a full calendar of stuff for the next six months to help keep our brains ticking and our people thriving.

A few highlights?

Hopeful Monsters Tokens. The premise is simple - demonstrate ‘making your own luck’ (another new behaviour) through your hunger to learn more about the world through a book, podcast, sharing best in class work, attending a seminar (the list goes on) and receive a token. Heftier examples (like speaking at a conference, running a training session or writing a blog article) mean heftier tokens. The person with the most tokens at the end of the month gets more money for their personal training budget. And the one with the heaviest pot come December, wins ‘Hopeful Monster of the Year’ and gets to jet off to SXSW Austin - where one of our team is right now.

Another new initiative is Culture Mornings - also known as Who the Feck is [insert name] - where a team member teaches the agency a bit about their lives. So far we’ve had “Why aye, man:  Welcome to Geordieland”. Next up it’s “Made in Ecuador” - rumour has it with a street party vibe with traditional games, music and typical Ecuadorian dishes to try.

Could we have thought of that? Maybe. Probably not. But creating meaningful initiatives doesn’t have to come from one source.

Share the love. Give your people the chance to help build that internal magic. There’s going to be stressful days, crazy deadlines, times that call for a bit of courage, but as they say, it takes a village. Build your business with your people and maybe you’ll see the same sweet success we’re seeing.

Welcome to the rise of Hopeful Monsters - on a mission to build something better.

Words by Katie Barclay.