by Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications
Let’s face it: The way companies and brands are navigating the Covid-19 crisis varies greatly. That said, there are a couple of commonalities emerging among those organizations that are raising the bar higher and setting a good example for others to follow.
At a time when employee activism continues to heat up, the epicenter of response is employees. Some companies are successfully navigating both business and reputation challenges of the pandemic crisis. They are taking all the necessary steps to comfort, support and inspire their people and make sure they remain safe, well and healthy. After all, employees are the lifeblood of every organization.
As the health crisis continues to evolve, engaging and motivating employees should always remain a priority. The coronavirus pandemic has shown employees the power their voice has in transforming the workplace. In addition, due to the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on people of color, the focus on Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace will inevitably become more prevalent than ever before and broaden significantly. Companies that are NOT aware of it, may end up losing ground and falling behind.
Interestingly, entire industries are being carefully scrutinized for doing “a little too late” to ensure the well-being of their workers. The price to pay is stiff; and so many reputations have been damaged dramatically. As you can imagine, damaged reputation may eventually result in a loss of customer loyalty and decreased revenues. In other words, we are living at a time when the way businesses are treating employees is the single most crucial driver of reputation.
Some studies suggest that when consumers were urged to rank actions affecting their decision to purchase products from a particular company, at least 90% maintained that taking care of their employees and treating them well, even in challenging times, was very important.
Furthermore, businesses are uncovering the true power of social responsibility and address the needs of the most vulnerable including healthcare workers, those who are ill and their families, small business owners and the unemployed. According to studies, up to 72% of consumers report that it is incumbent on organizations to provide aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying that acting out of haste, just to impress the public, may not help at all. The best way to go is to develop a thoughtful, strategic approach that ensures their actions are aligned with their culture, purpose and values. That approach should include a clear definition of the problem at hand (i.e. loneliness, anxiety, despair, personal safety, job security, etc.) and enthusiasm that comes from helping others (as opposed to seeking recognition or positive media coverage). It is also important to plan ahead for potential risks that may arise at some point in the future.
Some businesses are showing their humanity by going beyond their economic interest and forming partnerships. Like Google and Apple hiring each other’s employees. Like Aldi and McDonald’s repurposing their plants. Like Walmart assisting with drive-through testing. Like BMS providing free medicine to those who have lost their jobs. In fact, there are three key pillars that brands need to incorporate into their marketing campaigns in this new environment – culture, purpose and risk. These should be the lens through which all marketing initiatives and campaigns should be viewed, evaluated and judged.
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