Provocations and culture by Publicis Groupe’s Tahaab Rais

“Help them define a range of activities and ideas to bring that culture to life”



This topic is being discussed in every company now more than ever. Why?

Because a company’s ‘culture’ is proven to be a significant performance and reputational factor. We’ve seen that with sports teams. Teams with great cultures win more and are loved more than teams with divided or absent cultures.

So, here are positive provocations and ideas, based on personal insights on building better cultures – within teams themselves or within companies – that might help.

Define the North Star and what will get you there
Idea: The Culture Belief
Develop co-creation workshops to define, or redefine, the agency’s culture for these testing times. The participants?

A cross-section of people across departments and disciplines (including finance, admin and even reception), experience levels, genders, nationalities and backgrounds. Make sure the goal is to identify the most compelling culture statement co-created by the people who work in the company.

And then, help them define a range of activities and ideas to bring that culture to life. When launching it, help them launch it. Make them the spokespeople. After all, don’t we tell most CMOs that a brand’s strongest allies are its consumers and fans?

Give more than you take
Idea: The Personal Time Timesheet

Make sure people know there’s a time they need to keep for themselves. In such times, ensuring people work during humane working hours and have downtime and weekends to themselves is key.

Whether they choose to invest that personal time in honing their skills, investing more in their professional lives, doing something they love with people they love, or simply watching Netflix and chilling, is up to them.

They come back happier, they’re fresher, and they contribute better. It’s up to us, as leaders, to manage expectations, not send emails on Friday evenings or late at night (unless it’s really an emergency, which does not happen every day) and not break what can bloom.

From ‘Where’s Wally?’ to ‘How’s Wally?’
Idea: Personal Status Checks

Every team should not just do work status checks or traffic sit-downs, but also personal status checks and people sit-downs.

Employees’ emotional well-being should be a focus area for companies, especially in tough times, in how they help those who struggle with mental wellbeing to come and talk freely, and not worry about how they’ll be perceived.

High EQ is needed when it comes to tackling this sensitive but very, very, very important topic.

Inspire people to do something new
Idea: Places to Grow

Offices of the future need to become places of collaboration – where teams can get together to brainstorm ideas; places of wellbeing – where people can come to relax and destress; and, very importantly in my book, places of innovation and experimentation.

Our schools and universities had laboratories, where we experimented; libraries, where we studied and learnt; cafes, where we chilled out.

For instance, how many companies in our industry have areas dedicated to interacting with emerging technology?

Not many, right? So, with less people needing to be in the office, it’d be great to see these spaces emerging. That might just, in turn, encourage more quality visits and time spent at the office.

Building a collective vs creating competition
Idea: Good News Gatherings

Companies must create more, regular monthly team gatherings – in person. Share the work done by all teams. Celebrating and cheering each team while crediting the individuals is key.

Showing their work is recognised makes teams and people feel special. And have fun afterwards.

Do something good for others
Idea: The Solidarity Chain

Find a cause that the company’s people believe they must support. And get people (everyone) as part of that cause. It can be inequality, economic disparity, mental wellbeing, anything.

Look at the UN SDGs as an inspiration. Let’s not do CSR ideas for our brands and awards only. Let’s do CSR as people and as a company too.

In the year ahead, what matters is that while we focus on bottom-lines as an industry, we also remember that people don’t just want to work for a company that they love or are excited about.

They also want to work for a company that loves them and excites them. In doing the above, we should be able to do a little bit of that.

By Tahaab Rais, Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis Groupe, MENAT