Show Notes

Joined by Melanie Maddock, we discuss her role as Vice President of Talent and Culture for Bishop-McCann and how she is able to infuse JOY into our company culture for our event professionals. Topics include: 

  • How to create strong work-life balance
  • Ways to show appreciation for our associates
  • Unique benefits for our team
  • How to foster a strong company culture

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Hi, and welcome to The Events Experience, where we take a deep dive into everything event planning. I work for Bishop-McCann, an agency devoted to creating JOY through meetings, incentives, and events for big name brands. On this podcast, myself and our company's experts will discuss all things events, so keep listening to hear all about the latest tips and trends for virtual, live, and hybrid events.

Hi, everyone. With me today is our Vice President of Talent and Culture, Melanie Maddock, who works diligently to build our corporate culture and bring our organization's values to the forefront of all that we do. Today, we are going to be discussing talent and culture in the events industry. Thanks so much for talking with me today, Melanie!

Sure. Thanks, Brenna, for having me!

So I will just start with a statistic from CBS News that states that an event coordinator has the sixth most stressful job in the country. So it's clear that many of our associates are under a lot of pressure in their roles. But here at Bishop-McCann, we strive to provide our employees with a strong work-life balance. So, Melanie, as the VP of Talent and Culture, how do you help our employees achieve this?

Well, Brenna, it's true. Our industry and people deal with really high stress situations. There's high pressure from clients. There's high expectations from attendees, and our people take a lot of pride in the work that they do. So there's several ways that we try to support our people, like you said, and a couple of the ways that we do this is flexibility. I think flexibility is actually the first thing that comes to mind. I know that the pandemic was disruptive for companies that weren't set up for remote working, but thankfully, it wasn't disruptive to us. We were already set up for people to work flexibly, so that could mean working from home, which we are all still doing right now. But it can mean other things, too. Our people are in various stages of life. Some people have kids, some people have pets. Some people care for elderly parents, and those needs can really vary. As much as possible, we try to offer flexibility, so that our people can not only show up for work the way that they need to, but they can show up for the important people in their lives outside of work the way that they want to. I think we also offer generous benefits - not just things like medical that cover mental health or employee assistance programs, which are pretty common and popular. But we have additional things like unlimited vacation, so that people can take the time that they need to recuperate after the close of an event. We also offer mindfulness and meditation through a company called Journey. They're a fantastic service. They do web and app delivery of mindfulness and meditation classes and live sessions, and we've even done company-wide sessions before. So, yeah, those are the things that come to mind.

Yeah, definitely. I use Journey all the time. They have even just quick, five-minute meditation videos to de-stress or to help you get back into a good workflow, and I love having that option to reset in that way.

I love that, too.

Yeah, so knowing that there is this stress in our industry, obviously showing appreciation for our team is extremely important, and I know this has been a huge initiative for you. Can you explain a bit about what you've implemented for our company in order to show appreciation for our associates?

Definitely. As you know, celebration, reward, and recognition have always been important to Bishop-McCann. We've participated in values awards, we do call outs on company-wide emails and in town halls, and we even had a platform that we used to use called Kudos. Aside from that, we do several Pinnacle Awards each year at our company retreat, and that includes an incentive trip for the associate and a spouse or partner. We've had several great people that have been able to take advantage of this. Some of the packages even include their kids. But you may be referring to something more recently that we rolled out, and it's an initiative with Awardco. Awardco is basically a centralized platform where people can recognize each other for the great work they're doing. So it's a pretty sweet program, I think. It allows people to give and receive points, and those points basically translate to purchasing power, so people can get anything from gift cards to hotel stays to make charitable donations (but even other items). So as our people are spread out, we can include everyone in the company. It allows for cross-departmental recognition and even peer-to-peer recognition, which is important. It's not just about managers recognizing direct reports. Then to your question, there's other ways that we show appreciation, too. We have a Quirky Gnome who celebrates unique holidays. This was years ago, but I remember one of my favorite things (I always talk about this) was the Gnome did a beautiful grandma competition because it was a calendar event. We asked associates to submit photos of their grandmas, and we made it appear like we would select a top winner, which would be crazy. But instead we actually sent flowers to all the grandmas, and we told them that they won the competition and who they'd been nominated by. So, you know, those are the kinds of things we love to do. We also celebrate special events like birthdays, babies, first homes, engagements, and life events. So I think appreciation is really important, and we really do appreciate our people.

Yeah, I totally agree, and I'd never heard that beautiful grandma's story. I love that! So what other unique benefits do we offer as an organization in order to take care of our associates?

Well, we continue to listen to our people, and we do aim to meet their needs. Our benefits have changed over the years based on those changing needs. I do think we've got some pretty unique benefits. One of the things that I love (people love) is our sabbatical. Once every five years, people get one month of paid time off to be on sabbatical, and I think that's incredibly important. Thinking back on your question earlier about stress and pressure in the industry, having time to disconnect is really important. Something that accompanies our sabbatical, though, is a Quest Program. So the Quest Program is where people can set aside funds, which are matched and grossed up by the company, so they have a pretty substantial nest egg to travel with during their sabbatical. As an example, for my first sabbatical, I went almost a month in Italy, and we've had associates go all over the globe. Our CEO went to Ireland and India. We've had associates go to Thailand. We've had some road trip across the U.S.. We've had some spend extended time with families and hop all over the place. Being passionate about travel, this is one of my favorite programs that we offer, actually.

Mm hmm. I remember when I first started at Bishop-McCann, and I heard about this program. I thought, "This is the coolest thing ever!" The fact that they give you that time after you've put in the time working. Then you also have that nest egg, like you said. I just remember, I told so many people; I was like, "This is the coolest benefit ever!"

Really fun! And you know what I love is that it's not just a benefit we offer, but people really use it. Like they go on these amazing adventures. It's pretty sweet.


There's another benefit, though, that I wanted to highlight because I think it's important to us as a company. Our people are really passionate about community service, so we're going to be relaunching our giveback and service program called Project JOY. We're really excited about offering charitable contribution matches and offering people even more time during work hours to participate in service within their communities and offering basically their time and talents to organizations that need their help. So this is something close to my heart, and I think it sets us aside as a company and really brings out some JOY in our people.

Yeah, definitely. I love that not only are we creating JOY for our people, but also for others. I think that's really important. So along with some of those awesome benefits that you just talked about, we also have a very strong culture that we're super proud of. What are some of the ways that you help build this culture and make sure that everyone on the team feels a part of it?

It's a good question. Sometimes I think of the small and silly things we do, like I mentioned the grandmas. I remember once in the Kansas City office, we did a bubble blowing contest. I actually chuckle because somebody's bubble was bigger than their head. But I mean, we do potlucks and other Quirky Gnome campaigns. You know, those things are important and they add to culture, but I really wanted to focus on something else because that's all secondary to supporting, training, and developing our people. It's really important that our people feel empowered and that they're set up for success in their roles. We know that our company culture is created by our people, so we work really hard to hire the right people, to make changes when it's not working out, and to build them up so they can do the great work they've been trusted to perform. Happy people build a happy culture, so I just wanted to point that out. I also want to admit that as we recover from the pandemic, that company culture has been impacted. For those of us that are used to being at work and around people, it's been different connecting virtually. I do think we've risen to the challenge though. We've participated in training people for new skill sets - completely new skill sets in the virtual environment. We've collaborated as teams to problem solve. We've innovated and created new services. We found fun ways to connect virtually through town halls. We've done gifting, and the truth is the Quirky Gnome is still alive. He's not dead. So hopefully that answers your question.

Yes, for sure. So we will end this episode on a fun question. So what is your favorite thing about working for Bishop-McCann?

I'm probably biased, but it has to be the people. You know, my favorite thing about Bishop-McCann is working with the teams who are super passionate about the work they do. I tell this to candidates when I'm interviewing, and they ask this question. I think it's really inspiring, and it gives me energy that I get to work with people who are, I don't know, just really engaged in the work they're doing and take a lot of pride in delivering great things to attendees and clients. I think we're really lucky to have such fantastic, talented, and fun people - like you! Like you, Brenna.

Well, I have to agree. I swear, every time I meet someone new, I just think, "Wow, they are so nice and helpful." So yeah, I definitely agree with you there. Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Melanie. I appreciate you taking the time!

You are welcome! Have a great day.

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Events Experience. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast, and create JOY wherever you go!

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