Lessons from Regal’s bankruptcy comms, half of the American workforce is ‘quiet quitting’

Plus: Finding a larger purpose at work.

Regal's parent company Cineworld files for bankruptcy

1. Regal parent company Cineworld shares statement about bankruptcy

 Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Deadline reports:

Cineworld expects to emerge from Chapter 11 in the first quarter of 2023 and meanwhile will pursue “a real estate optimisation strategy in the US,” i.e. some closures or sales of theaters, along with “engaging in collaborative discussions with US landlords to improve US cinema lease terms.”

Cineworld “is confident that a comprehensive financial restructuring is in the best interests of the Group and its stakeholders, taken as a whole, in the long term, the company said. “Cineworld looks forward to working with its creditors and stakeholders to advance the Group’s efforts to restructure its balance sheet.”

The article goes on to state that Cineworld will continue to operate its businesses around the world, including Regal, without interruption.

Movieweb reports:

“Cineworld would expect to maintain its operations in the ordinary course until and following any filing and ultimately to continue its business over the longer term with no significant impact upon its employees,” (the statement read).

The company has also said, “Cineworld is in discussions with many of its major stakeholders, including its secured lenders and their legal and financial advisers,” regarding how best to move forward amid its debt burden. “Cineworld’s evaluation of these strategic options remains ongoing. A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate,” it added.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of streaming services as a viable outlet for major motion pictures, it’s no secret that the movie theater industry has taken a hit. However, it’s important to key on the fact that Cineworld’s response puts minimal emphasis on how the bankruptcy impacts its employees.

In an economic climate that’s unstable to say the least, this feels like a major oversight. Employee comms pros, take note — change comms don’t always need to offer communication about what internal stakeholders can expect from the future, especially when the future is uncertain and you don’t have all the answers.

The statement successfully pledges to consult major stakeholders, and provide a future announcement, but employees are only dealt with a vague promise of “no significant impact.”

Even when you can only provide minimal information on the future changes that lie ahead, a promise to keep employees updated with more information, an expectation of cadence and a few open channels of dialogue go a long way toward building the goodwill required to navigate the unknown successfully.

2. Quiet quitters make up half the U.S. workforce

According to a Gallup report analyzed by the Wall Street Journal, nearly half of American workers are “quiet quitting” or only doing the minimum tasks required in their roles. The report aligned the “quiet quitting trend” with the rise in resignations that have taken place over the last year-plus.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

U.S. employee engagement, a measure of involvement in the workplace and enthusiasm about work, has dropped since 2021, coinciding with the rise in job resignations. The number of workers who say they are actively disengaged from their jobs—defined as workers who are unhappy about their work and resentful their needs aren’t being met—is rising, according to new research by Gallup, which has tracked workers’ investment in their jobs since 2000.

The report went on to say that those under 35 had the sharpest drop in engagement, while the employer-employee connection has taken a serious hit:

“What we’re seeing right now is kind of a deterioration of the employee-employer relationship,” said Jim Harter, chief scientist for Gallup’s workplace management practice. Some of the estrangement may have been exacerbated by two years many workers spent out of the office in remote and hybrid work arrangements

These findings underpin a message that many workers have been echoing since the beginning of the pandemic — company culture and flexibility are more important than ever. Many employees were able to attend to parts of their personal lives, such as taking care of children, as part of their work-from-home arrangement. When flexibility was afforded, quitting rates dropped by 35%.

The message is simple: Afford your employees workplace flexibility to look after their personal lives, and there’s a much higher chance they’ll remain committed to your organization.

3. The search for meaning at work

Employers want more than just financial compensation from their jobs — they want deeper purpose.

BBC reports:

A 2020 McKinsey & Company surveyed showed 82% of employees believe it’s important their company has a purpose; ideally, one that contributes to society and creates meaningful work. And when a company has purpose, its people do, too. Separate McKinsey research from 2022 showed 70% of employees say their personal sense of purpose is defined by their work, and when that work feels meaningful, they perform better, are much more committed and are about half as likely to go looking for a new job.

The search for meaning at work is a relatively new idea, says Aaron De Smet, a senior partner at McKinsey. The Industrial Revolution, he says, made work very “transactional”: people worked and got paid money to live, with no greater purpose required or expected. But over time, as decent working conditions and a pay cheque became simple fundamentals, workers began to want more. In 2018, a survey of American professionals showed nine out of 10 workers would trade a percentage of their earnings for work that felt more meaningful. This drive for meaning is especially true of the newest generation to enter the workforce; in a survey of Gen Z workers from jobs site Monster, 70% of respondents ranked purpose as more important than pay.

Viewed through the lens of the Great Resignation, employers in today’s job market need to be able to provider their employees more than just competitive pay. They want paths to professional development, benefits that make their lives easier, and a company culture that helps them grow with their team. In particular, younger generations are especially keen on getting more out of work than a check.

“Companies are becoming very savvy to this and realising, for example, that they need to demonstrate a long-term training commitment toward new recruits. Firms are aware that they need to kind of reassure them: join us and we will take you through a long period of nurturing,” he says. “[Another] way that companies are attracting talent is to say, ‘The work that you’re doing will impact the environment, it will impact society around us’.”

The message here is simple — employees want more than just money. They want a more purposeful reason to choose to work for an employer.

4. How about some good news?

This week, let’s draw inspiration from:

Have a great weekend, communications all-stars!


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