Dallas-based The Marketing Arm, part of Omnicom, is offering employees numerous (and hopefully stimulating) online cultural and lifestyle activities and events to break up the monotony of the lockdown routine as the pandemic heads into year two.
The “TMA Passport Experience” invites staff and their families to sign up for one-hour virtual activities ranging from flamenco dance lessons to a session about llamas.
Thus far, 467 out of around 500 staffers have signed up for the classes, with the average person taking 1 to 3 sessions.
“For our first big culture event of 2021, we were up against some serious virtual fatigue,” says Rachel Lewis Mathews, director of employee experiences, TMA. “We were right at the one-year mark since the pandemic started and instead of life returning to normal and everyone heading off to spring break, we found ourselves continuing to hunker down with no clear end in sight.”
After Lewis Mathews personally tested over 15 global classes, she narrowed it down to eight to “reflect the diverse people, cultures, and backgrounds” represented at TMA, she says. “We also wanted to offer a variety of experiences that appealed to a range of passion points — music, dance, culinary, animals, self-care — so that there was something that excited just about anyone.”
TMA designed the schedule across multiple dates and times over a two-week period to accommodate busy schedules, client work needs, and a spread of time zones so that “even our international employees could participate,” explains Lewis Mathews. “We picked experiences that only required tools/equipment/ingredients commonly found in your own home to ensure the barrier to entry was non-existent.”
TMA has hosted numerous internal virtual events over the past year to help employee motivation, including a 5K fun run, digital drag show, pet parade, trivia tournament, meditation, and magic with Justin Willman.
“These events have had varying levels of interaction and engagement but were mostly focused on watching prepared content together,” says Lewis Mathews. She adds, by comparison, this spring break format is offered as a virtual experience and allows the agency to break into smaller groups for more intimate and meaningful connections around passion points. “We needed something outside the box to not only lift our people’s spirits, but also generate enough interest to make them actually sign up.”