The Shape of Work

#123: Akshay Gurnani on employee well-being, pandemic-induced positive change in client-agency employee relations, and working with creatives

September 29, 2021 Springworks Season 1 Episode 123
#123: Akshay Gurnani on employee well-being, pandemic-induced positive change in client-agency employee relations, and working with creatives
The Shape of Work
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The Shape of Work
#123: Akshay Gurnani on employee well-being, pandemic-induced positive change in client-agency employee relations, and working with creatives
Sep 29, 2021 Season 1 Episode 123
Springworks

Akshay Gurnani is a lifelong entrepreneur and marketer best known as the founder and CEO of Schbang, a holistic marketing solutions agency. Having grown a team of 650 creative thinkers over the last six years, he is recognized as one of the most game-changing leaders in the marketing agency industry today.

On this episode of The Shape of Work podcast, Akshay shares his journey from working at one of India’s most famous digital marketing agencies to running his own.

In addition to sharing his thoughts on working with a team of varied creative thinkers, Akshay has plenty of expertise to share about hiring, leadership and learning and development.

We discuss with Akshay:

  • What HR leaders get wrong about hiring 
  • Why employee well-being is the utmost priority at Schbang
  • Breaking through the status quo: pandemic-induced positive change in client-agency employee relations
  • Ways to support employees' personal and professional aspirations
  • How to develop employees that will drive company growth
  • How is it like to work with creative thinkers

What has Schbang done for the well-being of its employees during this pandemic?

This lockdown has affected the employees a lot, and work from home was also very hectic. Tackling morale issues were a major concern for the HR team, and they did not want the internal stakeholders and the clients to take the employees for granted.

Schbang got hired an in-house therapist; there have been more than 95 anonymous consults for the last year. As per the new policy, people are allowed to have two days of mental health leave. There have been other engagement activities like tambola nights, antakshari nights on weekends. 

Breaking the stereotypical client-agency relationship and its effect on employees

Post pandemic and lockdown, the status quo is changing between client-agency relationships. Schbang has been able to instill expectations in the minds of its clients. They have stopped taking the employees for granted and understand that working on the weekends is not always possible.

The expectation of work has been well-built. Often, the toxic agency culture leads to higher attrition, which eventually affects the majority of the clients with team changes. Hence, the clients have also tried to understand the agency’s perspective, and they do help with the work. 

Building expectations and timeline is a major way of streamlining work on this side of the business.

When would one feel that their company is growing?

Schbang believes in an open-office concept, where everyone is approachable. There are no cabins, and everyone can talk to everyone. Also, as the employees grow, the company will grow. People who were part of Schbang since its inception are now leading teams and are the next layer of leadership. 

Also, many senior Schbang employees have parted ways with the company and started their own companies. These companies are now part of the Schbang network, and Akshay loves to invest in them and their people to foster growth. Taking ownership is a significant attribute that makes people realize if they have the urge to grow or not.

Creative Thinkers: A rare bunch of people, and working with them

It is always interesting to work with creative thinkers, and most of these people are fresh out of college. They are youngsters with a different perspective on life. They come with a different mind space and worldview, and their take on business problems and solutions is quite creative.

What It's Like To Be...
What's it like to be a Cattle Rancher? FBI Special Agent? Professional Santa? Find out!

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Show Notes Chapter Markers

Akshay Gurnani is a lifelong entrepreneur and marketer best known as the founder and CEO of Schbang, a holistic marketing solutions agency. Having grown a team of 650 creative thinkers over the last six years, he is recognized as one of the most game-changing leaders in the marketing agency industry today.

On this episode of The Shape of Work podcast, Akshay shares his journey from working at one of India’s most famous digital marketing agencies to running his own.

In addition to sharing his thoughts on working with a team of varied creative thinkers, Akshay has plenty of expertise to share about hiring, leadership and learning and development.

We discuss with Akshay:

  • What HR leaders get wrong about hiring 
  • Why employee well-being is the utmost priority at Schbang
  • Breaking through the status quo: pandemic-induced positive change in client-agency employee relations
  • Ways to support employees' personal and professional aspirations
  • How to develop employees that will drive company growth
  • How is it like to work with creative thinkers

What has Schbang done for the well-being of its employees during this pandemic?

This lockdown has affected the employees a lot, and work from home was also very hectic. Tackling morale issues were a major concern for the HR team, and they did not want the internal stakeholders and the clients to take the employees for granted.

Schbang got hired an in-house therapist; there have been more than 95 anonymous consults for the last year. As per the new policy, people are allowed to have two days of mental health leave. There have been other engagement activities like tambola nights, antakshari nights on weekends. 

Breaking the stereotypical client-agency relationship and its effect on employees

Post pandemic and lockdown, the status quo is changing between client-agency relationships. Schbang has been able to instill expectations in the minds of its clients. They have stopped taking the employees for granted and understand that working on the weekends is not always possible.

The expectation of work has been well-built. Often, the toxic agency culture leads to higher attrition, which eventually affects the majority of the clients with team changes. Hence, the clients have also tried to understand the agency’s perspective, and they do help with the work. 

Building expectations and timeline is a major way of streamlining work on this side of the business.

When would one feel that their company is growing?

Schbang believes in an open-office concept, where everyone is approachable. There are no cabins, and everyone can talk to everyone. Also, as the employees grow, the company will grow. People who were part of Schbang since its inception are now leading teams and are the next layer of leadership. 

Also, many senior Schbang employees have parted ways with the company and started their own companies. These companies are now part of the Schbang network, and Akshay loves to invest in them and their people to foster growth. Taking ownership is a significant attribute that makes people realize if they have the urge to grow or not.

Creative Thinkers: A rare bunch of people, and working with them

It is always interesting to work with creative thinkers, and most of these people are fresh out of college. They are youngsters with a different perspective on life. They come with a different mind space and worldview, and their take on business problems and solutions is quite creative.

What It's Like To Be...
What's it like to be a Cattle Rancher? FBI Special Agent? Professional Santa? Find out!

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

What HR leaders get wrong about hiring
Why employee well-being is the utmost priority at Schbang
Breaking through the status quo: pandemic-induced positive change in client-agency employee relations
(Cont.) Breaking through the status quo: pandemic-induced positive change in client-agency employee relations
How to develop employees that will drive company growth
How is it like to work with creative thinkers