Greetings comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.
1 . Bank of America cracks down on employees working remotely
Bank of America is formally warning employees who aren’t reporting to their offices in accordance with its hybrid word policy, claiming that failure to comply could result in “further disciplinary action.” Office attendance at the bank is mandatory under the organization’s “workplace excellence guidelines”.
The bank is the latest company to signal to employees that going into the office is mandatory. Companies from Citigroup and Meta have been tracking whether employees have been going into the office, usually with a hybrid policy of three days in the office and two days at home, with similar warnings of discipline if employees don’t show up.
The remote work debate has been raging ever since employees started returning to the office when the restrictions of the pandemic began to wane, and that shift isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. But what can change is the way that policies are communicated to employees.
Employees who work remotely often report a better sense of work-life balance and often work longer hours than their in-person colleagues — and while comms pros need to stick to the tone and spirit of the message the organization wants to put out there, comms should also be a conduit for empathy. Formal warning letters might scare some people back into the office, but instead, asking employees who haven’t reported back their reasons for doing so could be a more effective way to build culture and goodwill between employer and employee. This information could also help comms influence organizational policy by reporting back to leadership with the findings in conversations with remote workers.
Organizations have different reasons for wanting employees back in the office. Whatever they are, they should be communicated with respect and understanding.
2. Wayfair leaders tell remote employees they’re more likely to be laid off
Furniture retailer Wayfair was in the news earlier this week after announcing a layoff, notable because it came just weeks after CEO Niraj Shah said that his employees needed to work harder. In a Tuesday meeting with employees, leadership told staff that cuts would be focused on remote employees.
According to The Wall Street Journal:
Shah said Tuesday that people needed to continue to put in hard work if they expected a positive outcome for the company and for themselves. Executives told employees that the layoffs were aimed at speeding decision-making within teams.
In a slight improvement from December when Shah said “history doesn’t reward laziness with success” to his employees, this meeting reportedly involved a question and answer session in which employees got to ask leaders what the future of the company held. But as we said earlier this week in our column on Wayfair — executive media training and cohesive comms structures could have resulted in a more compassionate and effective response. There is a right and wrong way to do layoffs — if you have a strong employee comms structure in place, you won’t be left to scramble as Wayfair seemingly has been here.
3. Younger employees miss up to one day a week with mental health concerns: study
Ever been so overwhelmed by your work that you feel like you can’t get anything done? For some younger millennial and Gen Z members of the workforce, mental health concerns have become so taxing that those employees miss up to the equivalent of one day of work per week, according to a study by Vitality, a health and life insurance company based out of the UK.
Vitality’s CEO, Neville Koopowitz, stressed that firms need to get better at shouting about their support resources.
“If health at work is properly managed, business and the wider economy stand to gain significantly,” Koopowitz said.
Mentally healthy workers are much more likely to be happy and productive workers. With that in mind, it’s both up to organizations to help provide the resources and load management tools for employees to preserve mental health on the job, and equally as important for communicators to get the word out to employees about the tools at their disposal. If employees don’t know what is available to them, investing in wellness resources doesn’t do organizations or their staff much good.
Additionally, comms should look to build bridges between generations, and if younger workers are suffering from the ill effects of mental pressures, comms would do well to reach out and learn what might mitigate the issues. Comms should always be a bridge builder, and doing so can help create a more united workforce.
4. How about some good news?
- Six deaf children are now able to hear after gene therapy treatment.
- Taking a daily multivitamin could help slow cognitive decline, a study found.
- A British student discovered a 200-million-year-old flying reptile.
- Ragan Training can help communications pros find inspiration and resources.
- You should be rewarded for your work. Find out how to earn an award here!
Have a great weekend comms all-stars!
Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.