WPP AUNZ staff to be given shares under new scheme

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 5 April 2018
Mike Connaghan

WPP AUNZ is making all of its employees shareholders as part of a new raft of initiatives that will focus on growing its internal culture.

Under the share scheme, all eligible employees will receive $500 worth of WPP AUNZ shares and will continue to operate on an annual basis. This is the first market globally to introduce this structure.

The holding company is also giving its staff the ability to purchase leave, option of flexible working, a slate of education courses and a new focus on wellbeing.

Speaking to AdNews, WPP AUNZ CEO Mike Connaghan says the holding group is spending “millions of dollars” on the initiatives and admits that culture has taken a backseat to the complexities of the STW and WPP merger in recent years.

“The culture that we had at STW was very much what goes around, comes around. Be a giver, not a taker,” Connaghan says.

“We had a great culture at STW, but the merger probably stopped us for a while because it was such a big task to bring these two companies together, and we still aren’t there yet. This is why we are relaunching these initiatives.”

Connaghan says the share ownership scheme allows its people to have some “skin in the game”.

“As we are a listed entity in Australia, being able to give real shares to people is unique and an obvious benefit,” he says.

The series of initiatives are launched under the umbrella of MyTime.

With purchased leave, employees have the option to self-fund an extra period of leave of up to four weeks per year, on top of their paid annual leave.

Employees also have the option to negotiate to work in a way that better suits them to achieve a better work/life balance.

The company has also launched The Academy, which is a training school for employees that focuses on the skills and capabilities they may need as they progress through their career within the group.

More than 40 courses are offered from foundation through to senior leader levels across key focus areas of leadership excellence, commercial acumen and creativity and strategic thinking. 

The training and curriculum is being delivered by WPP AUNZ’s own training organisations (Yellow Edge and Phuel), experts from across the group and external training organisations.

The Academy also launched the Wellbeing Programme in a bid to create a sustainable workplace environment that focuses on mindfulness, time and energy management and work and life integration and balance.

“We are able and should use our size to offer the best opportunities for our people. These flagship programmes are just the start of our ambition for our people,” said Connaghan.

“We have always invested heavily in training and development. It is a cornerstone to having our people better connected across the group. Our scale enables us to offer the best opportunities for our people. The new flagship programmes are just the start of our ambition."

Ad agencies have been fighting against years of established 'Mad Men' culture in advertising with culture becoming a huge focus in the industry. AdNews has an upcoming feature on culture in agencies - if you wish to contribute get in contact.

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