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Help, Not Hugs: Merck Creates a Caring Culture for Employees

by Ketchum for Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Summary of work

The International Alliance of Carer Organization estimates there are 259 million unpaid carers globally. These individuals support people with long-term illnesses, physical disabilities, or cognitive/mental conditions for no pay. They don’t get the help – economic, health, psychological, or social — that they urgently need.

So, who cares for the carers? Especially those who are also employed? Almost half (43%) of carers aged 18-64 also work. And during COVID-19 they toiled an astounding 24.2 hours weekly on caring in addition to work duties.

Having just launched the Embracing Carers® Carer Well-Being Index, in 2021, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany had a deeper understanding of the challenges unpaid carers face. We had achieved enormous success with our Index globally. Although we have many policies and resources for employees, we knew we needed to do more internally to increase understanding and support our own who are carers.

With Ketchum’s support, we decided to pull out all the stops and leverage all internal (and some external) communications channels in a ’Help, Not Hugs’ carer training and education campaign. Through the training programme and broadcasting the availability of new and improved policies, we drove Merck employees toward a better appreciation of the carers in our midst.

Judges’ comments

The judges really liked how the Help, Not Hugs entry recognised the need to educate employees, not only on the policies available to them, but also on the need to treat colleagues with kindness. A great campaign name, excellent use of external positioning to reach employees and good use of senior leads.