The new trend of ‘quiet cutting’, J.M. Smucker’s unique take on return-to-office policies

Plus, how to shape company culture for a new generation of workers.

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.  The corporate restructuring tactic of ‘quiet cutting’

You probably have heard about the term quiet quitting by now. But there’s a new term to contend with — “quiet cutting” refers to the trend of employers eliminating jobs and reassigning employees to new roles.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

Adidas, Adobe, IBM and Salesforce, among others, have reassigned employees as part of corporate restructurings. Mentions of reassignment, or similar terms, during company earnings calls more than tripled between last August and this month, according to data from AlphaSense, a financial-research platform.

“Reassigning is definitely a huge part of the dynamic right now,” said Andy Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm.

For companies that spent several years—and significant money—to hire top talent, reassigning workers to new roles can be a way to fill jobs vital to future plans while trimming costs associated with old strategies, say human resources executives.

It seems as if the “quiet” trends have no end, to the point that “quiet (insert work-related activity here) is becoming jargon. But this one does bear paying some attention to. In a weakened economy, organizations will look for ways to save money when possible. This sometimes means reassigning employees to roles that they’re not familiar with.

If an organization goes through a period of role reassignment, communications professionals must be looped in with HR and ask the decision-makers to anticipate the many questions that employees will have. In addition, the comms team needs to also be clear in its communication — any sort of vagueness during a time of restructuring allows the potential for negative cultural repercussions like resignations, external leaks from employee activists and more.

2. Smucker’s jelly and jam takes a novel approach to return-to-office policies

You’re probably familiar with J.M. Smucker’s jelly and jam products. But did you know the brand is also deliciously creating innovative in-office work policies and standards? The food manufacturer announced that it only expects employees to be in the Orville, Ohio offices just 25% of time worked each month.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

Smucker has adopted a return-to-office strategy that is unusual among U.S. companies. The company expects its roughly 1,300 Orrville-based corporate workers to be on site as little as six days a month, or about 25% of the time, depending on their roles.

Employees are told to hit that threshold by coming in during 22 “core” weeks a year. Many employees can live anywhere in the U.S. so long as they pay their own way to get to Orrville for core weeks. This has led to a growing group of super-commuters who reside elsewhere but work in Orrville.

Will this sort of arrangement catch on with other brands? Maybe, maybe not. But as other companies lay down edicts to employees to return to their desks, Smucker’s policy allows for a bit of the best of both worlds: Live where you want, but come back to the office when you’re needed. A demonstrated corporate willingness to provide employees with flexibility is often seen as a great culture builder, making this an innovative case study in the future of work.

3. Shaping work culture for the newest wave of employees

Gen Z is the latest to enter the ranks of the workforce. If it’s not already readily apparent, members of this generation also have high expectations for their work experience. Making that experience happen is rooted in company culture.

According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Annual report, 51% of Gen Z employees are more likely to place more priority on their health over their work. The report also states that a positive work culture is among one of the top priorities for Gen Z workers. In addition, the report found that Gen Z employees desire flexibility as a perk at work, with 75% of respondents claiming it was the top benefit they were looking for in a job.

With this data in mind, it’s up to us as communicators to ensure that our messaging resonates with employees of all generations. Taking pulse surveys to help determine what’s valuable to what employees can help in that customization effort. A one-size-fits-all effort doesn’t have much chance of success with a generation that’s demanding more out of their employers — and that’s not a bad thing.

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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