Telum Talks To... Lauren Faulkner, GM of Sabio

Telum Talks To... Lauren Faulkner, GM of Sabio

SABIO GM Lauren FaulknerQueensland-based marketing and communications agency, Sabio, has made some changes in their business aimed at cementing real work-life balance in the post-pandemic workplace. We took the opportunity to talk with Sabio's General Manager, Lauren Faulkner, about the evolution of the agency and what is behind this reshaped workplace.

Sabio recently announced a suite of enhanced work-life balance policies, including a nine-day fortnight. Before we chat about those, can you give us a snapshot of Sabio?
Sabio is an integrated marketing and communications agency with office locations in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sydney. Our team of 25 specialise in a range of areas, however our four core business streams are Communications and Marketing, Creative, Engagement and Digital.

You mention in your announcement that the company has undergone an exciting evolution in recent years - can you tell us about that?
Like everyone in the industry, the last two years have been massive for our team. As well as the challenges of working through a pandemic and dealing with the fear of the unknown, at the height of lockdowns in Australia, we acquired a boutique communications agency, Ruby Communications, and our team grew by 12 people.

Since then, the agency has continued to soar to new heights, and in October 2021, we rebranded from P4 Group to Sabio - a brand that is much more aligned with who we are now: a fleet of powerful creatives and storytellers that pack a punch.

You refer to “the post-pandemic workplace” in your announcement. How has COVID-19 impacted the agency, and do you think the influence of that - the way it has changed the workplace - is permanent?
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the workplace of today. It’s no longer enough to offer a ping pong table and a solid salary package - people (myself included!) are much more driven by workplaces that support mental and physical wellbeing, offer flexibility and are led by individuals that inspire them to come to work.

In the initial phases of returning to the “new normal”, the number one topic on everyone’s lips was work-from-home, but we quickly evolved from there - this is now a minimum expectation in our industry, and many others.

For us, being “flexible” wasn’t enough, we want to be an organisation that offers tangible benefits that enhance the lives of our team, both in and outside of work. It is with this lens that we sharpened our policies and made a commitment to our largely female-led organisation to make work, work for them.  

Tell us about the new work-life balance policies - what are they and how did they come about?
We value a healthy work-life balance year-round at Sabio, and have enhanced our policies to ensure we are providing a workplace that supports our team to be their best at work and in life, without compromising on one to achieve the other. Our enhanced policies include: 
  • Nine-day working fortnight for all FTEs
  • Enhanced work from home
  • Flexible working hours spanning eight working hours either side of core operating hours of 9:30am to 3:30pm
  • Paid birthday leave

At the same time, we reviewed our approach to women’s health and developed a “Women’s Health, and Paid Maternity and Parental” policy to provide the team with the support they need when planning for and raising a family, as well as support for key milestones along the way. This also includes enhanced compassionate leave and reduced working days (no questions asked) while undergoing fertility treatment, menopause or other circumstances.

We created these policies because we care about our team and want to support them in maintaining a healthy relationship with work. We strongly believe long days, high stress and burning the candle can’t simply be a part of “agency life”, and we want to lead the way in defining what agency life is in a post-pandemic world.  

We hear talk of some organisations and agencies struggling to recruit at times, that it’s a candidates’ employment market. Is that something you’re seeing, and do you think wellbeing policies like these are an important element and differentiator in an employer’s brand?
Recruitment is insane at the moment! I recently sat in a PROI Global Summit with delegates from all over the world and recruitment and retention was the number one challenge across the board.

While I absolutely think health and wellbeing initiatives, like our Work-life Balance policy are important, they can’t be the only thing you are doing to enhance your team's experience at work.

Our Work-life Balance and Women’s Health, Maternity and Parental policies at Sabio are complementary to a range of other initiatives we have committed to, including our DOFT Committee (Directors of Fun Times), Sabio Community, Sabio Academy and ongoing “surprise and delights” that align with our values - and this is just the beginning…

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