This article was published on Vert Digital’s blog on January 26, 2023.
Hi there! I am Vert’s new head of people ops, the first full-time Vertbag hired specifically to serve HR needs (woo hoo for agency growth!). My focus is in human resource management, recruitment & hiring, culture & engagement, and retention & recognition. You might be thinking, why would someone want to work at a marketing agency — in an HR role? You might be surprised to learn that the two areas have a lot in common, and as someone with a marketing background, it’s what makes me love my role even more!
It Starts With Listening
One of the first things we do as an agency in the initial phase of a new campaign is to listen – listen to the client, listen to the public, even listen to what’s popular on TikTok. What goal can we help the client reach? What are the current advertising trends, or tried and true tactics we want to consider? What’s the best way to combine these to create a truly impactful campaign?
We do the same with our HR and people ops efforts at Vert. How are people feeling about their workload? About their relationships with coworkers? About Vert’s leadership? At Vert we use the CultureAmp tool to run confidential employee engagement surveys throughout the year which help us understand how employees feel about our workplace culture at that time. We also use CultureAmp to collect peer feedback, formally as part of the performance review process, and informally as Vertbags request it from one another throughout the year. We use this information to make adjustments to help foster a collaborative, respectful workplace.
Segment Your Audience
You know what this means in marketing terms. You can’t just take one message and blast it out to everyone on every platform. For some it will hit the nail on the head, others it will be a complete miss, and even more won’t give it a second of their attention. Sending the right message at the right time to the right people is Marketing 101.
The same concept works when Vert’s Culture Club plans employee engagement opportunities! For example, in 2021 we held a roundtable discussion on the topic of Imposter Syndrome – an event for which Vertbags were encouraged to learn about the topic and attend an open discussion about it. Knowing people learn in different ways, we sourced learning materials in various types of media for people to choose from, including podcasts, articles, videos, and self-assessments. Some people dove into reading, some listened to podcasts while they worked. It ended up being a well-attended virtual event with active discussion on a topic that had been on many Vertbags’ minds.
Be Prepared to Pivot!
Agency work can be unpredictable. Sometimes the client’s needs change, or the campaign doesn’t perform as expected, or you know, a global pandemic shakes things up. At Vert we pride ourselves on our ability to anticipate these challenges and quickly adapt. In fact, “Flow With the Go” is one of our five core values. It means the opposite of going with the flow – we don’t float along and see what happens, we “embrace and thrive on change, identify opportunities in the chaos and react to them quickly”.
We do the same with regard to our people operations. Culture Club members found ways for Vertbags to stay connected to one another pretty early into the pandemic in 2020. Then earlier this year we had a group of Vertbags interested in volunteering at a local food bank for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in January, but it became clear that the covid-19 omicron variant was expected to be at its peak right about that time. So we pivoted, and found ways for Vertbags to donate their time to support the Atlanta community safely, by writing letters of encouragement to local Meals on Wheels clients, and signing up to judge the Atlanta Public Schools’ 2022 Technology & Innovation Competition.
All Vertbags are encouraged to think of themselves as a marketer first, and their specific role second. It goes for media planners, graphic designers, data analysts, and me! I’m excited to serve Vert in this new role and help find new ways to put my marketing skills to good use in continuing to help Vert be a place where people love to work.