By Charlotte Causley, Associate Director
Before the Coronavirus outbreak, organisations were facing mounting pressure to become more sustainable and ethical. But the pandemic has also inadvertently shone a spotlight on a new priority: human relations. Once this situation eases, there will be a clear divide between the businesses that got their communications strategy right and those that didn’t. Not just externally, but internally too.
How organisations treat their workforce and support their mental health has become one of the most prominent re-occurring themes in the press as a result of many of us being forced to work from home in either isolation or challenging scenarios. As a B2B tech PR agency, we are fortunate to work with many HR technology providers who have solutions to these problems, which until now had been down de-prioritised in the boardroom.
In my experience of working with these HR tech companies, it’s all about delivering value not taking advantage of low-hanging fruit as there is an obvious opportunity for significant growth right now. Instead, they are very conscientious and aware of both their external and internal image. That may be due in part to an abundance of surveys conducted prior to COVID-19 that showcase the importance of having purpose as a business. One such survey found that 64% of millennial employees wouldn’t take a job if the employer doesn’t have a strong CSR policy, and 83% would be more loyal to a company that contributes to social and environmental issues.
Imagine what the statistics are now for those businesses that simply treat their workforce properly, and those that support their local communities.
The c-suite has taken note of these statistics. Many business leaders have upped the ante on their efforts to show empathy not only to their workforce, but to the wider community. We may be in the middle of an unprecedented time, but we’re also witnessing amazing gestures when the world needs it most. You need look no further than the many supermarkets who are opening earlier for the elderly and key workers, or to footballer Marcus Rashford’s drive to get free school meals to children that need them.
These big brand names and celebrities haven’t been forced to start these types of initiatives. They knowingly did so to help people. From a PR perspective, the moment a business or spokesperson show that they are passionate and care about any issue is the moment that their story becomes more impactful to the end audience.
But how does play out in the corporate or B2B environment?
A survey by Gallup of more than 10,000 employees want their leaders to show four primary feelings; trust, compassion, stability and hope. It could be argued that stability and hope are dictated by economic means whereas compassion and trust are firmly within a business leader’s control.
HR technology has a unique and powerful role to play right now as it doesn’t discriminate or assume who needs help. These solutions provide tools for everyone, and those organisations that have begun using new forms of technology to empower and support their workforce are reaping the rewards. As we slowly move forward and look to recover, those businesses that have embraced improving their own culture will become more attractive to new talent. The business leaders that use these solutions are demonstrating compassion by providing a support system and as a result, are more likely to be trusted by the employee because they are seen to care about them. In turn, that employee is likely to become more productive as a result, and be more desirable to the employer from a career progression viewpoint.
Firms that demonstrate empathy and compassion are the ones that the public will trust. Shifting the perception of your business through positive communication will have a knock-on sales impact because the choice doesn’t just come down to price. It comes down to whether that provider is trustworthy and likely to value you as a partner, which can often be identified by the way they handle their communication.