Bracing for the ‘great resignation,’ recent diversity failures, and more

Get a friendly reminder to support your interns, and grab your weekly dose of messaging inspiration.

The week in comms, 6-24-21

Greetings, communicators!

We hope you enjoy this week’s stories—along with practical tips and takeaways—for the week of June 21-25, 2021.

1. Communicating amid historic turnover.

Are your colleagues quitting in droves?

It’s happening everywhere. As NPR reports, 4 million U.S. workers quit in April, which is a record. What’s going on, exactly?

It’s not just COVID fatigue. Something deeper is going on. NPR writes that, “workers now feel empowered to speak up about when, how and where they want to work,” adding: “We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed.”

Enduring the horrors of a pandemic that’s killed nearly 4 million people around the world has jolted millions of workers into a greater consciousness about the brevity of life. Do we really wanted to spend so much of it sitting in a car or hunched over a keyboard? Increasingly, for many U.S. workers, the answer is “no.” They’d rather quit than go back to the ol’ cubicle.

Companies should note that right now, employees are not just job searching; they’re soul searching. Employees are desperate for deeper meaning in their work and in their lives. Part of that equation involves maintaining some sense of freedom, flexibility and control over your working environment, which many have come to depend on during COVID-19. Understanding this phenomenon is crucial for communicators who are keen to engage their colleagues during this tumultuous period of history.

Of course, you could also just summon everyone back into the office ASAP and demand that each employee register their vaccine status on the intranet. The choice is yours.

2. A friendly reminder to treat interns well.

It’s a bad feeling when you hit “send” on accident. It’s a super-bad feeling when you’re new to the job—or when your test email goes out to thousands of customers.

An HBO intern learned that lesson this past week, though the goof elicited an outpouring of support from around the world. Hundreds replied with tales of their own flubs:

These sorts of things happen. To HBO’s credit, it took the episode in stride and with good humor. We all make mistakes, and it does, indeed, get better.

 (Shout-out to our own Ragan intern, Allison Haeger—you’re doing great!)

3. Science confirms Zoom meetings are the worst.

If you feel like these on-camera meetings are grinding your soul into a fine powder, you are not alone.

Here’s a recent study from a media psychologist that confirms “nonverbal overload” does indeed cause fatigue—among other draining conditions.

This BBC article delves further into the topic and offers ways to maximize your “digital body language.”

While we’re here with the science, let’s all agree that five is the optimal number of working hours per day.

4. Diversity missteps and inclusivity reminders.

An Atlanta-area IKEA came under fire this week for a Juneteenth observance gone horribly wrong. CBS42 reports that the store “sent an email to its employees about the celebration, telling them to watch for ‘a special menu’ that would include fried chicken, watermelon, mac and cheese, potato salad, collard greens and candied yams”—an offering that failed to account for the history of oppression linked to food staples such as watermelon.

As you might imagine, social media commentary helped the episode ignite quicker than a truckload of flärdfull candles. CBS42 reports that the incident prompted 33 employees to call out from work on June 19. The store manager attempted to control the damage via email:

“I truly apologize if the menu came off as subjective. It was created with the best of intentions by a few of our coworkers who believed they were representing their culture and tradition with these foods of celebration.”

An employee noted that zero Black colleagues were consulted or had anything to do with the menu. An IKEA spokesperson seemed to indicate otherwise in attempting to explain the situation:

“In addition to offering Juneteenth as one of our paid holidays nationally, our IKEA Atlanta store has recognized Juneteenth with our co-workers for the past four years. To honor the day, a lunch menu was created with the best of intentions, including recommendations from black co-workers. We value our co-workers’ voices and changed the menu after receiving feedback that the foods that were selected are not reflective of the deeply meaningful traditional foods historically served as part of Juneteenth celebrations.  We got it wrong, and we sincerely apologize. We are committed to educating ourselves and putting a process in place that will allow us to thoughtfully honor Juneteenth in the future.”

In other inclusivity fails, UEFA, bowing to political pressure, dropped the ball on what could have been a meaningful show of support for the LGBTQ community. Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace admitted it must “do better” in its latest diversity report.

One small step toward doing better is using more inclusive language, which, in part, entails avoiding outdated phrases such as “special needs.”

5. Your weekly dose of comms inspiration.

Let’s close with some nice news! This week, let’s draw encouragement from:

  • Carl Nassib, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end, who has the top-selling NFL jersey since coming out as gay.
  • Japan, which is proposing a four-day workweek to promote a healthier work/life balance.
  • Big tippers, who can patronize my “Dad Diner” anytime!
  • Coffee, which might reduce the risk of multitudes of ailments.

Take good care of yourselves, comms champions. And keep up the good work.

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