Nearly every month, we receive pitches from healthcare marketing agencies asking us to write about their internal employee programs. These pitches range from the modest — “We believe your readers will be interested to learn about this initiative” — to the exaggerated — “Our efforts were met with wild applause. Everybody said they had never seen such benevolent munificence.”
Most, if not all, are worthy examples of humanitarianism. And of course it makes sense for agencies — as it does for all companies — to emphasize these efforts, as philanthropy and volunteerism are critical for recruitment and retention, especially among younger qualified employees.
Evaluating them isn’t easy. For instance, most offer but a few bullet points on how their colleagues rallied in the wake of some natural disaster, or provided assistance to those in need. Thus was born Anatomy of Agency Culture, a supplement designed not only to showcase internal programs, but to examine them with an eye on how they impact company culture.
We asked that the multiple programs profiled here include details about their objectives and actions taken, as well as evidence of progress toward meeting the philanthropic goal and employee engagement. Most of the time, agencies were able to show evidence of the former. Engagement proved the more difficult aspect to quantify. Perhaps agencies aren’t yet polling employees on whether being able to contribute to a cause while at work improves their commitment and level of engagement to their core job function.
What we also found was that, while in some cases the efforts were nascent and probably didn’t meet the criteria for corporate social responsibility — nor do they use that nomenclature — these agencies are clearly committed to social responsibility and, dare I say, appeared to be on the path toward embedding it into their very work.
And that’s a great thing for agency staffers, as corporate social responsibility, if personalized and systematic, can connect employees to values they hold dear. Allowing employees to carry their values outside the pharma environment, and to work for a company that cares, is fast becoming a need to have.
I applaud these healthcare agencies for enabling their employees not only to improve the well-being of others, but also for allowing them to find well-being through their work, and I invite others to tell us about their own efforts.
Marc Iskowitz, editor-in-chief, MM&M