Addressing the Israel-Hamas war with employees, Fines for big banks shape employee communications

Plus, CEOs predict the end of remote work.

Greetings comms pros! Let’s take a look at some news stories from the last week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Addressing the Middle East conflict with employees

The conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas has dominated the headlines for the last few weeks. It’s led to many discussions in the comms world on how to address the conflict with employees. In a piece for HR Brew, Deborah Grayson Riegel, a communication and leadership expert, said that the first step for employers is acknowledging what’s happening.

“It’s bad news for everyone, but different perspectives of bad news,” Grayson Riegel told HR Brew.

HR leaders should process and “separate out” their personal feelings about the events with a loved one or colleague, she advised, and acknowledge, “’ I’m feeling angry about X,’ or ‘I’m feeling embarrassed that I don’t have feelings like [I think] I’m supposed to,’” before having conversations with employees.

For communicators and the world, this is a difficult time. In a piece for Ragan, our editor-in-chief Justin Joffe posited that the issue needs to be framed as a humanitarian one. We should seek to build bridges and should take a stand by finding our shared humanity. Additionally, Allison Carter wrote a piece for PR Daily going over Harvard University’s error in their delayed response to the conflict, serving as a blueprint of what communicators should avoid.

At day’s end, the most important thing we have is our ability to relate to one another through our shared humanity. And it’s important that we communicate with that in mind.

2. Strict rules on internal communication take effect at banking institutions

If you use instant messaging apps like Slack or Teams to communicate with your coworkers, you’re not alone. But if you work for a big bank, the way you talk to your coworkers will likely be regulated soon. HSBC has taken the step of blocking employees from texting on their work phones.

This comes after a number of financial firms were fined this summer for using messaging apps like WhatsApp, a violation of compliance controls. Banks are required to follow strict rules on their usage and storage of employee texts

According to CNN:

“Banks use a wide range of approved channels to communicate in compliance with regulatory obligations,” a company spokesperson told CNN. “HSBC, like many other banks, reviews and adjusts functionality on its corporate devices as needed.”

Time will tell if this trend could expand across the financial sector and increase in other heavily regulated industries. Will this cause a shift in employee surveillance?

Regardless of the outcome, communicators need to not just provide employees with the information they need, but should also work to facilitate connections between employees for collaboration. While that might look different in different organizations, the concept remains the same.

3. CEO report predicts the end of remote work in coming years

A recent report from KPMG that polled CEOs on their thoughts around the world of work stated that they anticipate hybrid work ending by 2026. Will this come to fruition? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. With all the expertise and reporting we’ve seen over the last few years, remote work isn’t going anywhere any time soon — but  it’s interesting to see this train of thought coming from leadership.

The reasons for preferring in-office work are many — productivity, the cultivation of relationships, and more. But employees by and large have desired and still desire flexibility. It’s hard to see that changing.

As leaders, we need to be sure that we’re not simply giving decrees to employees, but actively listening to their concerns and crafting our messaging in kind. Even if a return to the office is in the cards, it’s all about communicating it in a way that emphasizes compassion and understanding.

4. How about some good news?

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.

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