‘Permacrisis’ was the Collins Word of the Year in 2022. For an optimist like me, it’s hard not to feel at sea with these constant waves of change. However, stuck in the eye of all of this, there are some anchoring elements you can focus on in your workplace communications. Here are five I see as important.
Purpose matters to employees
72% of employees say their company’s purpose should receive more weight than profit (McKinsey). And companies where employees experience a sense of purpose (and leaders set a clear direction and expectations) outperform the stock market by 6.9%. (HBR and Great Place to Work)
No wonder two-thirds of executives are rethinking their purpose for a better future.
We help organisations in a number of ways: from helping you design your purpose to bringing it to life with brilliant communications.
More empathy, please
Leaders that set clear directions and expectations help teams excel. In fact, Google was so keen to know how its best teams did so well, that it studied them (Project Aristotle). The most important finding was that employees need to feel safe and understood (psychological safety).
But the workplace is more stressful than ever, with 59% of employees ‘quiet quitting’ and 44% experiencing stress (Gallup). Furthermore, 80% of leaders want to enhance their compassion but do not know how (HBR). How can we help leaders build trusting, safer teams?
We run a powerful programme for managers to teach them the skills to lead with compassion – and more than 300 leaders have been through this in the last two years. At its heart are practices like active listening, storytelling for change and leading with empathy. 100% of attendees say they would absolutely recommend this training to another leader.
Net zero and AI – the new radicals of the workplace
Compassionate leadership is vital as we face new challenges like net zero and AI, and we can expect huge changes to come. The process of change always brings resistance, but net zero is also a moment to take stock and improve the employee experience. Nearly 60% of employees under 30 say they strongly agree that “the more socially and environmentally responsible my company becomes, the more motivated and loyal I become (as an employee)” (Globescan: Next Gen report). What an opportunity!
We work with colleagues who are experts in the sustainability field to make net zero change inspiring and manageable. Our support ranges from audits to translating complex sustainability strategies into stories we can better connect to, and training.
And with AI, we help with tools, training, and support so employees can use technology responsibly – all reviewed by our data, legal and regulatory experts at WPP for the very best advice.
Employees and reputation
With so much change, the employee voice matters more and is louder than ever. Did you know that content shared by employees receives 8X more engagement than content shared by brand channels? (Social Media Today) What if they are frustrated or angry? The impact of frustrated employees releasing internal news they object to can be big. Do you know how your teams are really feeling about inclusion, cost of living, climate, or automation?
We help with employee listening and use that insight to develop plans and messaging that lead with empathy.
We have employee issues specialists who understand the need to ensure leaders are acting and speaking with integrity.
Our cultural advisory team are people with lived experience of the diverse communities at work. Often, we need more than a well-intentioned ally’s view to navigate and communicate through moments. People who know what is tokenistic and what is genuinely inclusive.
We also help employees who are keen to be voices of support – with advocacy training and tools so they can confidently and proudly share stories that interest them about the sector and where they work.
The wonder of creativity
Whatever employee communication challenge you face, it’s likely that you have a remote audience impacted. More than 80% of employees are deskless: think your field sales, contact centre teams, retailers, labourers, and manufacturing site employees. Then we have a huge portion on top with limited email access like nurses and teachers.
You need creative ways to reach them. Creativity at work makes us feel connected and builds up the good feelings inside that spur is on. See Said Business School, University of Oxford’s study on happiness and work productivity. In a complex world, creativity helps give form and sense. Let’s face it, work is where we are at (a lot) – let’s make it wonderful.
In the face of constant change, I hope this framework is helpful. We have seen extraordinary progressive progress at work. Brands that don’t lead with purpose integrity and empathy risk being held to very public account by their own employees, customers and wider stakeholders.