Employees Concerns Beyond Job Creation and Well-being

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This blog is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.My agency conducts the Integral Employee Activation Index study annually with The Harris Poll to understand employee mindset and behaviors. We just did a pulse check and the results stunned me. Employees’ expectations about the issues their employer takes a stand on changed drastically.The study gathers input from employed individuals across the United States from a wide variety of industries, career levels, genders, generations, and racial/ethnic backgrounds. Results represent employee attitudes about company values, differences between managers and non-managers, digital transformation, politics in the workplace, and more. In a nutshell, our study is somewhere between a peek into the minds and behaviors of a workforce and a predictor for what will resonate with the working public.In the study, we explore the societal and political issues employees believe are most important for their employer to make a difference on. For the past two years “Employees’ good health and well-being” and “Job creation” topped the list, followed variously by racial and gender inequity, data privacy, income inequality, and universal access to healthcare. We’ve found that when employee values align with organizational priorities all kinds of positive activities occur.  And when they don’t? Employees are more likely to take action against their employers.In April, we conducted a study of 1,200 employees across the country. We wanted to understand if or how employee priorities shifted since we conducted the 2022 survey. What we found changed our minds. And our assumptions. Why? This April, gun violence, housing issues, and poverty displaced other issues and rocketed into the top five issues. While we can’t prove causality, we see a high correlation between the responses to our study and what was going on in the world. Housing affordability is way down. Mass shooting deaths year-to-date are way up. Concern about COVID-19 is somewhat diminished. The workplace reflects our culture. We know that. And make no mistake: gun violence, poverty and housing are workplace issues that employers want employers to make a difference on. Regardless of your personal stance on these issues, employees want their company to do something. Why? Because they see these as salient to their relationship with their employer. It’s about ensuring employee safety and wellness and bringing meaning to day-to-day work. Top ten: Which issues should your employer make a difference on? So what are you going to do about gun violence? The BBC reports that the number of mass shootings has gone up significantly in recent years, citing statistics from the Gun Violence Archive. Every day, 321 people are shot in the United States, according to Brady United. Companies are not exempt from gun violence. Everytown for Gun Safety* reflects that since 1999 there have been nearly four times as many mass shootings in the workplace as there have been in schools. Fifty-eight percent of American adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime, meaning that it is highly likely our colleagues, employees, and customers have experienced gun violence. I wrote a blog post back in June 2022 on Second Amendment Rights vs. Gun Violence: Workplace Polarization, I stressed that companies need to understand what their employees care about and value.There are ways for your organization to get involved if you’re interested in finding ways to protect your employees and customers or promoting gun safety through business practices. As an example, in 2016, Levi Strauss & Co. prohibited consumers from bringing guns into their stores. In January 2019, CEO Chip Bergh joined other CEOs in support of H.R. 8 to require background checks on all gun sales.Additionally impacting employees and businesses, communities experiencing gun violence are less likely to be hubs for economic growth and commerce, and face lower property values, fewer business startups and loss of jobs. So what are you going to do about housing and poverty?Another issue facing employees, your people, is housing. Stable, safe, and secure housing is fundamental to employees’ ability to perform their roles well. The post-pandemic housing economy is negatively impacting people across the country. The last year saw a sizzling housing market marked by lower than normal inventory, fast-selling homes, and steadily increasing property prices that favor sellers, not buyers. What might this mean for your employees? Perhaps organizations provide a cost of living adjustment for certain segments of your employee population to ensure that they have stable housing? With employee frustration over their pay, Amazon is going to let employees pledge stock for home loans. Another consideration is the Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) down payment assistance program created by Fannie Mae in 1991. The EAH can help companies cut employee turnover in half and save as much money as it costs. It works by providing qualified employees’ funds for downpayment and closing costs as a loan that is forgiven over a period of time, as long as the recipient stays with the employer. This may also have the added benefit of ameliorating the racial homeownership gap.The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) details that some employers are starting to offer home-buying support benefits, which assists workers to reach their homeownership dreams. This, in turn, bolsters recruiting, hiring, and retention of employees. Something employees indicate they care about. When you develop your employer value proposition, it’s time to go far further than decent dental and vision benefits!What we learned & what we can doHeadlines drive your workplace experience because they are employee experience issues. The workplace experience is where employees have a societal experience. Organizations have the power to influence change — through content, interactions, policies, and directing the powerful energy of capital with purposeful strategic intent. When we consider employee experience broadly, we can impact important societal issues. And it’s not all upside because inaction and inattention comes with the risk of moral hazard and losing your best people to companies making a difference. Find the original blog post here. Ethan McCarty is the CEO of Integral, an award-winning Employee Experience Agency. He lectures at Columbia University in New York City and is a member of the Forbes Business Council. He currently is a member of the Institute for Public Relation’s Board of Trustees and is Director of the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center. ...

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Identifying and Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations: A Guide for Students and Practitioners

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This whitepaper is provided by the IPR Measurement CommissionFull PDF: Identifying and Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public RelationsStakeholder management is fundamental to the practice of public relations. This paper builds on the seminal 2006 paper by Professor Brad Rawlins, Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations. It provides practitioners’ perspectives on defining stakeholders in corporate and non-profit settings, in addition to applying the prioritization models presented in Professor Rawlins’ paper to a case study. Marianne Eisenmann is a former communications research consultant and past member of the IPR Measurement Commission.  John Gilfeather is President at John Gilfeather & Associates and is a past member of the IPR Measurement Commission. ...

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Gobind Behari Lal (1889–1982)

IPR is featuring some of the many AAPI pioneers who impacted the field of public relations in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.Gobind Behari Lal was born in Delhi, India, in 1889. After relocating to California in 1912, Lal earned a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where he developed a passion for science communication.Lal began his career in 1925 as a correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner. His ability to explain complex scientific concepts to the general public led him to be appointed the science editor of the San Francisco Examiner.In 1927, Lal began working for the Scripps Instutiton of Oceanography. His ability to blend storytelling with scientific accuracy helped advance the field of science journalism. In 1934, he helped form the National Association of Science Writers. Lal understood the value of scientific writing and informed the public about the dangers of centering scientific research around war efforts. Lal joined the United Press in 1937 as a science editor and received the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on contemporary advancements in science. He was the first Indian-American to receive this award and remained a trusted leader in science communication over the next two decades. In addition, Lal was a civil rights advocate who fought against racial discrimination in the U.S. and for India’s independence. Lal’s efforts on behalf of India’s independence earned him the Padma Bushar honor in 1969 and the Tamra Patra in 1973. He died in 1982.References:https://www.sciencebuff.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/AsianAmer_Month_web.pdfhttps://www.thejuggernaut.com/kym-gobind-behari-lalhttps://www.nytimes.com/1982/04/03/obituaries/gobind-behari-lal-reporter-shared-pulitzer-prize-in-1937.html ...

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How CEO Sociopolitical Advocacy Impacts Employees

This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center Dr. Moonhee Cho, Dr. Sifan Xu, and Dr. Brandon Boatwright researched the factors associated with CEO advocacy and how these factors influence the sense of belonging amongst employees. CEO advocacy occurs when an organization’s top executive embraces or participates in political and social issues. An online survey of 429 U.S. employees was conducted in March, 2020.Key findings include:— Employees felt a greater sense of belonging when their values aligned with the values of the CEO.— When employees’ values aligned with leadership at an average level or below, they perceived the CEO’s views to be less representative of the organization as a whole.— When employees’ values were highly aligned with those of the CEO, these employees still felt a greater sense of belonging to the organization even when they didn’t think the CEO’s views were representative of the organization as a whole.— Greater employee accessibility to information about CEO advocacy slightly magnified the positive effects of their value alignment with the CEO.Find the original report here. ...

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Why Behavioral Insights Improve PR Outcomes

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This blog is provided by the IPR Behavioral Research Insight Center.As he always does, Chris Graves from Ogilvy’s Center for Behavioral Science, gave an inspiring, albeit brief lecture on the development of a “Sensemaking Genome” for stakeholders.  No longer, admonished Graves, should we slice and dice our stakeholders by common demographics but elevate our analyses to the underlying psychological make-up of our publics.Graves, with his global behavioral science group at Ogilvy, has developed a proprietary system to discern types. This new “genome” helps understand and target stakeholders. It is based on an integration of accepted and peer-reviewed behavioral science studies and composed of three areas: 1) personality trait science (not Myers-Briggs); 2) cognitive styles; 3) identity-linked worldviews.For personality traits, they use the “Big Five” OCEAN factors:  An individual’s level – low or high — of “openness to experience” (think King Charles vs. Sir Richard Branson), “conscientiousness” (think Ron Weasley vs. Hermione Granger), “extraversion” (think Bruce Wayne’s Batman vs Tony Stark’s Ironman), “agreeableness” (think Game of Thrones’ Cersei vs. Oprah) and “neuroticism” (think Star Wars’ Yoda vs. C3PO).  They also include an array of “cognitive styles” (how one thinks) and “identity/cultural cognition” (one’s worldview tied to a social tribe) to create a “genome” of type which can better target stakeholders with more effective messaging, delivery systems, and influencers.”  This pioneering approach has now won six global awards. Credit: Chris Graves, OgilvyReflecting on Graves’s content, three key points were made by the merry little panel that followed.  Made up of Dr. Terry Flynn, Academic Director at McMaster-Syracuse University, Dave Scholz, Chief Strategy Officer, Leger and Director of the IPR Behavioral Insights Research Center, and myself, the discussion focused on three areas for practice and research:1)    When conducting preliminary (and ongoing) research on your stakeholders, explore the “biases” they bring to your subject matter rather than the typical demographic derivatives. Understand past experiences, influences, leanings (political and otherwise) so that barriers and affinities toward behavior change can be more precisely targeted.2)    Become an aficionado of behavioral science theory and apply them to your strategies from the start. For instance:  o   If a “structural” bias is poverty which restricts transportation, then planning events where stakeholders must come to you rather than you going to them would alter tactics, messaging, and more.   https://publicwise.org/publication/social-structural-barriers-to-voting/o   If a “psychological” bias is a past history of distrust of your subject for a variety of reasons, then breaking down behavior change into small, digestible bites that are encouraged by trusted influencers and communities might be more effective.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7808310/3)    Build programs with the goal of changing behavior rather than creating awareness, modifying opinions or attitudes. This single shift can lead to big results as behaviors are much easier to measure as results (or lack thereof) are easier to see. Start with small goals (think about a continuum of small behavior changes that can lead to bigger changes later) and work on those. Then as you see results — or don’t and therefore need to apply different behavioral insights — you will increase your expertise.  (Note: truly this is something we are doing every day with our families, colleagues, and staff, you just may not realize it!) Stacey Smith is Senior Counsel and Partner at Jackson, Jackson & Wagner. She is also a longtime member of the IPR Behavioral Insights Research Center and the Commission on PR Education (CPRE). ...

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The Business Case for Focusing on Employee Mental Health

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A research analysis of how employees and companies are discussing mental health on Twitter and recommendations for how organizations can address it Download Full Report (PDF): The Business Case for Focusing on Employee Mental HealthCision and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) explored the conversation surrounding employee mental health including topics such as burnout, “quiet quitting,” and a four-day work week. This report provides suggestions for leaders to support employee mental health. Register here! The Full Report: EXECUTIVE SUMMARYSince the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are increasingly focused on addressing the mental health of their employees and for good reason: employee mental health has a large measurable impact on business and the bottom line. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that mental health conditions affect job satisfaction and how present or absent employees are in their work. Findings in this study also show that better employee mental health can contribute to increased employee productivity. However, there are several roadblocks in the way of achieving better employee well-being.Several facets of modern work impact employee mental health in a negative way. The New York Times reported that the corporate push to restore pre-pandemic ways of working in a physical office is being met by employee concerns for their mental and emotional health. Another concern is burnout due to the high pressures of work, validated by the fact that burnout is now recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an official syndrome.To tackle this issue, the Institute for Public Relations and Cision examined conversations about mental health in the workplace with a focus on:   -Employee and Employer Perspectives   -Burnout   -Quiet Quitting   -The Four-Day Work Week   -Current Corporate Mental Health InitiativesThis report identifies the brands that are leading the way on Twitter in mental health conversations and provides evidence-based recommendations for leaders addressing mental health in the workplace.METHODOLOGYUsing Brandwatch’s Consumer Research tool, we analyzed 1,304,110 Twitter posts discussing topics related to mental health and wellness in the workplace. We limited our collection to content from the United States during the period of January 1-October 31, 2022.For the findings, please download the full report HERE. About the Institute for Public RelationsFounded in 1956, the Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations.™ IPR creates, curates, and promotes research and initiatives that empower professionals with actionable insights and intelligence they can put to immediate use.  IPR predicts and analyzes global factors transforming the profession, and amplifies and engages the profession globally through thought leadership and programming. All research is available free at www.instituteforpr.org and provides the basis for IPR’s professional conferences and events.About CISIONAs a global leader in PR, marketing and social media management technology and intelligence, Cision helps brands and organizations to identify, connect and engage with customers and stakeholders to drive business results. PR Newswire helps companies meet their communications and disclosure needs. A network of approximately 1.1 billion influencers, in-depth monitoring, analytics and its Brandwatch and Falcon.io social media platforms headline a premier suite of solutions. Cision has offices in 24 countries throughout the Americas, EMEA and APAC. For more information about Cision’s award-winning solutions, including its next-gen Cision Communications Cloud®, visit www.cision. com and follow @Cision on Twitter.Media ContactBrittany HigginbothamCommunications and Digital SpecialistInstitute for Public Relationsbrittany@instituteforpr.org ...

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What Employees Want in 2023

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Morning Consult examined how adult employees in the United States feel about their work. The researchers analyzed how factors such as COVID-19, inflation, and remote work affect where people want to work, how satisfied they are with their jobs, and the reasons why they do or do not prefer to work in certain environments.An online survey of 6,610 U.S. adults was conducted from Jan. 21-25, 2022. The following year, an online survey of 6,610 adults was conducted from Jan. 21-29, 2023.Key findings include:1.) 91% of employed adults said they are engaged while working.2.) 15% of all U.S. workers felt as though they aren’t working enough hours during the week.3.) 34% of U.S. adults were interested in leaving their current job.— 46% of employees who were interested in leaving their current job felt underpaid.4.) 39% of employees preferred to work in an in-person environment.5.) 73% of employed adults said their work sometimes left them too tired to enjoy their personal lives.— 81% of Gen-Z employees said their work sometimes left them too tired to enjoy personal lives after work. Find the original report here.  ...

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Communicative Leadership: A Model Fit for a Post-Pandemic Era

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This blog is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.If the pandemic highlighted one issue, it was the realisation of the importance of leadership communication and connectivity with employees. Providing information at the start was critical. But as the crisis unfolded, gratitude and empathy focused around employee wellbeing became increasingly important (Ruck and Men, 2021).As we reflect on that period, it is time to consider going beyond well-established leadership models, such as transactional and transformational leadership, that may be a better fit for an uncertain world and changing workplace dynamics.For example, alternative leadership models, such as servant leadership, focus more explicitly on listening to employees. As Mahon outlines, ‘The servant leader will seek out and use as many opportunities as they can find to listen to employees, they embody a deep respect for employees and demonstrate this by listening respectively to opinions, ideas and supporting supervisees feelings and worries’ (2021, p.204). The emphasis on ‘seeking out’ here distinguishes the approach from more passive attitudes towards listening.Compassionate leadership includes a similar emphasis on listening and empathising. West (2021, pp.66-8) highlights the following leadership capabilities:Attending – listening with fascinationUnderstanding – withholding blameEmpathising – tune into feelings of concernHelping – taking tangible actions that address the roots of suffering.Compassionate leadership capabilities also include responding empathetically and taking thoughtful and appropriate action to help, while progressing equality, valuing diversity and challenging power imbalances (Hewison et al., 2019).In Sweden, Johansson at al. (2014) highlight the example of the Volvo Group where communicative leadership has been practised since 2002. Amongst other principles, it includes dialogue, explanation of purposes, knowledge sharing, and involvement in decision-making. This has crossovers with other leadership concepts such as humanistic communication, leader–member exchange (LMX) leadership theory, and relational leadership. A humanistic approach emphasises the importance of equality where communication is a ‘dialogical process between equals…rather than a one-directional instructional statement that appears not to ask for feedback other than behavioural compliance’ (Werder, 2017, p. 5). LMX leadership theory focuses on relationships between leaders and employees and the ways they are associated with trust, which ‘requires that we are true to our word and that we act accordingly or as others expect us to’ (Wilson and Cunliffe, 2022).Consolidation of these concepts into an all-embracing communicative leadership model that challenges the orthodoxy and communication limitations of other, more established approaches, looks like a fertile space for further research and knowledge building.References:Hewison, A., Sawbridge, Y., and Tooley, L. 2019. Compassionate leadership in palliative and end-of-life care: a focus group study. Leadership in Health Services, 32(2), 264-279.Johansson, C., Miller, V.D., Hamrin, S. 2014. Conceptualizing communicative leadership, Corporate Communications: An International Journal. 19(2), 147 – 165.Mahon, D. 2021. Can using a servant-leadership model of supervision mitigate against burnout and secondary trauma in the health and social care sector? Leadership in Health Services, 34(2), 198-214.Ruck, K. and Men, L.R. 2021. Special Issue: Internal Communication during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Journal of Communication Management, (25)3.Werder, O. 2017. Toward a humanistic model in health communication, Global Health Promotion, 26(1), 33-40.West, M.A. 2021. Compassionate Leadership: Sustaining Wisdom, Humanity and Presence in Health and Social Care. UK: The Swirling Leaf Press.Wilson, J. A., & Cunliffe, A. L. 2022. The development and disruption of relationships between leaders and organizational members and the importance of trust, Leadership. 18(3), 359–382. Kevin Ruck, Ph.D., is the co-founder of PR Academy, the U.K.’s largest Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) accredited teaching centre. His interests are leadership communication and listening, strategic internal communication planning, and measurement and evaluation. ...

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Patsy Mink (1927-2002)

IPR is featuring some of the many AAPI pioneers who impacted the field of public relations in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.Patsy Mink was born in Paia, Hawaii, in 1925 to a Sansei Japanese-American family. She grew up in a working-class community.After graduating high school as valedictorian in 1944 and doing a year at University of Hawaii, Mink began attending school in Nebraska. Mink openly objected the University of Nebraska’s segregated dorm policy and began campaigning for change. By the next year, University of Nebraska ceased its segregation policies.Mink applied to over ten medical schools after college and was denied due to her gender. Instead of losing steam, Mink decided to attend law school instead. She was admitted to the University of Chicago Law School and graduated in 1951. Upon returning home, Mink opened her own practice and became the first Japanese-American woman to practice law in Hawaii. During this time Mink started involving herself in the Democratic Party of Hawaii. Her efforts to register and retain young voters aided in Hawaii’s Revolution of 1954, which ended the dominance of the Republican Party of Hawaii.In 1956, Mink was elected to Hawaii’s House of Representatives. Eight years later, Mink was elected to the United States House of Representatives. She was the first woman of color to be elected into national legislature and became the first Asian-American woman in the United States Congress.During her six consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, Mink fought tirelessly for better education, civil rights and gender equality. She championed the protection and rights of women, children and immigrants. She was the primary author for the Title IX legislation, which brought athletic and academic equality to American schools. Mink focused her efforts towards environmental policies, examining the regional, national, and global impact of energy use.Mink also served as Jimmy Carter’s Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. After two years, she returned to Honolulu and served on the city council while simultaneously practicing law. In 1990, Mink returned to the House of Representatives and held office until her passing on Sept. 28, 2002. Her legacy shines through her many awards, honorary degrees, and impact on the lives of millions.References: Life Story: Patsy Mink (1927-2002) from the Women & the American Story website.Patsy Takemoto Mink from the National Women’s Hall of Fame website. ...

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Influencers As Endorsers and Followers As Consumers

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This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research CenterDr. Xiaofan Wei and colleagues examined influencers’ role in motivating online consumers to engage with brand-focused content which entails consuming, creating, or adding to branded content. The researchers analyzed how influencers align with brands and the relationship between influencers and their followers.A survey of 390 Sina Weibo users was conducted online. Key findings include:— Respondents felt that their relationship and trust in influencers strengthened their sense of belonging to the fan group.— Influencer-follower parasocial interaction didn’t positively impact how users consumed online brand content that had been influencer-endorsed.— The way people identify socially mediates the influencers they follow, how they interact as followers, and how they contribute to brand-related content.Find the original research here. ...

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