How giving back programs improve retention, Washington Post announces layoffs

Plus, the impact of Twitter’s dissolution of its Trust and Safety Council.

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

1. Empowering Employees to give back improves retention

While volunteer and donation programs geared toward giving back are often run by companies, it might be time to rethink that. According to a piece in Forbes, allowing employees to take more control of corporate philanthropy might help retain talent, especially younger employees.

According to Forbes:

Despite the persistent fears of a recession, talent remains tight—and a major constraint for any business with dreams of growing into the future. The War for Talent continues all over the globe.

That has put more emphasis than ever on employee retention. A few progressive companies seem to have uncovered a secret weapon of sorts: purpose-driven giving. This simply means giving their employees the opportunity to support causes they are passionate about, beyond any philanthropy the company itself supports.

This strategy is especially effective among recently hired employees from the Millennial and Gen Z generations. Recent survey data collected by Benevity finds 52% lower turnover among newer employees with less than three years of experience with an employer when they participate in purpose programs.

“Participation in this new form of corporate purpose programs, where employees are leading the charge in causes they want to support and employers are supporting them, is now playing a major role in shaping employees’ early experiences with a company and is linked to reduced employee churn,” says Sona Khosla, Benevity’s Chief Impact Officer.

In a highly competitive job market, companies need to be able to pull out all the stops to get and keep the best talent out there. This novel idea gives employees more of a say in how things are done at an organization, emphasizing how empowering your employees to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves can foster a sense of belonging and shared purpose.

2. Washington Post publisher announces layoffs at town hall, takes no questions

The Washington Post announced that a round of cuts is coming in the new year, and the bad news was relayed in a tense meeting in which publisher Fred Ryan avoided answering questions.

According to The Hill:

Video taken from the in-person town hall at the newspaper’s downtown Washington, D.C., headquarters and posted to social media shows frustrated employees peppering Ryan with questions about how the newsroom will be affected and demanding a justification for the cuts.

We’ll have more information as we move forward,” Ryan is seen saying before thanking the employees in attendance as he walks away.

Kathy Baird, chief communications officer at the Post, told The Hill on Wednesday afternoon the company anticipates the coming job cuts “will be a single digit percentage of our employee base, and we will finalize those plans over the coming weeks.”

Layoffs are never fun to experience, whether you’re an employee or employer. But there’s a right and a wrong way to handle them, and Ryan’s behavior falls in the latter camp:

In uncertain economic times, many jobs, particularly those in a field as evolutionary as media, are bound to be cut. However, when announcing layoffs, being honest and transparent with your employees sometimes means making space for tough conversations and uncomfortable interactions. Withholding what you know from them makes you look bad and leaves a knowledge gap that may be filled in with speculation and gossip by employees who stay on after cuts are made.

3. Charities’ dismay as Twitter disbands safety group

The strange decline of Twitter under the tenure of Elon Musk marches on, with the dissolution of the platform’s Trust and Safety Council. The group advised the company on instances of self-harm, hate speech, and more. This is concerning for

According to BBC:

A UKSIC spokesperson told the BBC the charities were dismayed by the “sudden end” to the Council.

“We will continue to offer our many years of experienced assistance to those who want it and will continue to ensure we do what is necessary to protect internet users from harm,” they said.

The BBC also spoke to Glitch UK, a charity seeking to end online abuse, with a particular focus on black women and marginalised people.

Its spokesperson said the Council was disbanded via email, hours before a planned meeting was due to take place: “That is a really worrying trend when you’re thinking about trust and safety, work that demands a huge amount of expertise or experience.”

Another week, another concerning trend coming from Twitter HQ. It’s important for organizations to have partners who can provide the expertise that they themselves might not specialize in.

In this case, Musk shunned a group of experts with informed perspectives on of speech that could be deemed harmful. When you lose those experts, you open up the potential to miss things experts would have caught.

This latest Musk mistake offers a reminder that it’s impossible for any one person or organization to know anything. Having trusted partners that can help is key, and companies should take care to put their faith in those partners.

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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