Employee activism is nothing new, but it has been gathering pace in recent months. It seems that every week brings a fresh news item on employees taking a stand about issues they care about. We’ve read about walkouts at Facebook, Amazon, Wayfair, and Uber among others, with staff striking over work and pensions, as well as their companies’ failure to act on particular topics.
These walkouts have coincided with the era of the ‘Great Resignation’ - in which employees are quitting their jobs at historic rates. That’s why it’s become apparent that actively listening to your staff and showing them that you’re implementing, or at the very least considering their suggestions, is the key to improved retention and motivation.
The importance of an employer’s corporate values
Covid-19 has changed many employee’s perception of what matters at work, and high salaries are no longer the main driver when it comes to selecting jobs. In fact, The Edelman Trust Barometer has revealed that 60% of job changers were looking for a better fit between their own and their employer’s corporate values.
And employees are no longer afraid to voice their views in the way that they may have been even a decade ago. According to MIT Sloan Management Review, “over half of the 1,500 employees surveyed said they usually or always speak up to influence organizational action on wider societal or environmental issues."
The War in Ukraine is accelerating activism
Few recent worldwide events (pandemic aside) have led to such an outcry for action than the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and reports show that employees around the world have been outspoken in their demand that their employers do more to help out with the humanitarian crisis. But the US Conference Board has found that almost 40% of the people it surveyed were not aware of any supportive action that their company was taking. In many cases, this is leading to frustration, disenchantment and reduced retention.
5 tips on effectively responding to employee activism
So if you’ve seen that employee activism is on the rise in your workplace, how do you address it? We offer you some top tips from business leaders.
- Listen and record responses
The first, crucial step is to show that the opinions of your employees are not being ignored. If you’re aware of a specific issue that many members of your staff feel strongly about, invite them to speak about it in an open forum. If you’re a remote-first organization, schedule a specific company-wide catch up on the subject, which any interested parties are encouraged to join.
But remember that employees won’t always speak to their team leaders about what matters to them, so it’s important to use the right tools to encourage them to speak out.
Engagy Designs is an effective solution for your Modern Workplace, which can help to communicate effectively and create a space to held importaint conversations. Use visually engaging templates to communicate you company’s value and about meetings on key social or environmental issues that matter to your staff.
- Keep employees updated on the actions that you’re taking
When you’ve gathered enough data, be sure to collect the findings in a central space and use internal communication channels to inform your staff about the next steps that you’ll be taking.
A great way to do this is by having a dedicated space on your company intranet on which all activities linked to a particular cause are listed.
Engagy Designs enables you to create your own content categories related to charitable action or fundraising, among other topics. For example, you can have a dedicated tab related to action being taken to support Ukraine. You can also include the results of any staff surveys here, to promote transparency.
- Redesign workplace policies
If you’ve found that your employees feel strongly about particular causes, or want to contribute to a specific social or environmental initiative, check how this aligns with your company’s mission, vision and values. If the two are closely matched, you might consider redesigning your workplace policies and programs to uphold your employees’ feedback, and in doing so, demonstrate care for their well-being.
It’s actually worth regularly reminding your employees, not just about your company mission, vision and values, but also about your policies. Engagy Designs enables you to use engaging interfaces which will bring these important topics to life for each and every team.
PICTURE OF TEMPLATE
- Offer paid time off to volunteer or take part in activist events
Activist marches and movements tend to occur on weekends, but they do occasionally take place on a weekday. If that’s the case, you might consider offering your staff paid time off to participate. It’s a meaningful way to support employees’ engagement with the causes they care about most, and you’ll be rewarded with improved engagement and retention.
You might consider having a dedicated space on your intranet for each team’s activities in the CSR space. Engagy Designs features department or team-driven designs to satisfy the individual needs of each company function or region.
- Consider matching employee donations
If there’s a particular cause that unites many of your employees, you may choose to consider matching their donations. This was the case recently with support for Ukrainian refugees, with many companies choosing to match their employees' financial contributions to the cause. As part of your CSR strategy, you may also ask staff to nominate charities that they’d like to support, and then do a survey to find out which of these is most popular.
Remember to celebrate fundraising successes and give a special shout out to those employees who have invested their time and effort to support a particular cause. Engagy Designs helps you to deliver brilliant visual communications around these moments that matter.
The key is listening coupled with effective communication
Show your employees that you care about what matters to them by taking the time to listen to their views. Then use effective internal communication methods to engage them in a discussion on what can be done about these issues company-wide. Use the right tools to support you to turn employee activism into something brilliant for both your staff and your business.
If you’re looking for a new way to manage your Digital Workplace and improve internal communication, take a look at the solutions offered by Engagy Designs!