Employee Communications Guidance: Week of 5/18

The future of work is in the spotlight with major tech companies announcing sweeping work-from-home policies slated to last (at least) through the end of the calendar year and in one instance “forever.” As corporate COVID-19 taskforces grapple with logistics both big and small, here’s what else we’re seeing on the employee communication and engagement landscape for the week ahead:

If there ever was a time for leaders with high EQ, it is now. Once perceived as a sign of weakness, leaders showing emotion publicly are receiving praise for showing their “human” side. As workforce news continues, now is the time for leaders (both during internal meetings and external media conferences) to refocus on effective communication, find their voice and be their most authentic selves. Not sure where those skills stand? Leaders who want to gauge their EQ should consider these five questions.

Companies explore employee tracing, tracking and screening options—and ethics. From smartphone apps to infrared cameras, technologies promising to assist companies with workforce reentry are attracting attention. Adoption of such tools could speed workplaces reopening to employees across the globe, but experts warn the tools may not be a turnkey solution, with inaccuracies and employee privacy concerns top of mind. Contact tracing apps are being met with strict privacy regulations from Apple and Google, who have joined forces on the topic to ensure user privacy. MIT is also leading an effort to ensure user privacy. Coined Private Automated Contact Tracing (PACT), organizations from across sectors are working to “slow the spread of COVID-19 using the collaborative power of privacy preserving contact tracing.” On a separate but related note, employers are also weighing the big questions around tracking employee productivity from afar.

Meanwhile, unemployment numbers continue rolling in, and…

  • Women and people of color continue taking a disproportionate hit. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April jobs report saw women accounted for more than half of the lost jobs last month, largely in the sectors of health and education, retail, and leisure and hospitality. Companies sidelining their diversity and inclusion efforts for cost savings may experience long-term adverse effects that rely on a diverse consumer market. Take a look at these during-and after-pandemic considerations to make the case for inclusive work environments.
  • Furloughs are turning to layoffs. As employers examine the business landscape in their industries, many are expected to lay off their furloughed employees. More companies are slated to do the same, as a recent Gartner study noted the number of CFOs who responded that they have or are planning to furlough and reduce the size of their employee population in May and June has doubled since March. In the U.K, its furlough scheme is extending past its original July timetable through October, while 1 in 5 German companies let go of staff last month.
  • Members of the Class of 2020 are navigating an unforeseen competitive job market. Employers are revoking full-time and internship offers, at 4% and 22%, respectively, according to recent data by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. New graduates are turning to flexible career opportunities, including part-time and freelance work, to gain experience.

Companies classify departing employees as “alumni.” Organizations are providing alumni directories and opening alumni communications channels where former employees can stay in touch with one another and the organization. Consider how your employee audience extends beyond their status as “current employees” and cultivate a sense of community and collaboration beyond their tenure. Doing so extends your talent pool for future hiring needs.

*If you have questions or are seeking counsel, please reach out to Carla Keppler at ckeppler@golin.com.