#SCoReTalk – 6: Employee Well Being: Creating environments more conducive for employees

Every week Wednesday evening, School of Communications and Reputation (SCoRe), in collaboration with Reputation Today magazine, organises webinar on contemporary issues, what we call #SCoReTalk. The last #SCoReTalk was held on 27th May, Wednesday from 5:30 pm to 6:30 p.m. and leaders across geographies from various PR firms were present to share valuable insights on ‘Employee Well-being’.

The webinar was moderated by Sunayna Malik, Managing Director (India) of Archetype and the panel included – Elan Shou from Ruderfinn, Ian Rumsby from Weber Shandwick, James Brasher from Rice Communication and Penny Burgess from WE Red Bridge. 

 Sunayna Malik initiated the conversation by speaking briefly about the relevance and importance of the topic ‘Employee Well-being’ in today’s context. She also added that most people call Public Relations as the ‘most stressful job’ in the world and therefore employee well being has been at the core of Public Relations. She brought the COVID dimension to throw some light on how stress has been taking a front seat in our mindset and people are genuinely worried about what will happen next. The new normal ‘work from home’ has become more challenging for everyone because employees have to balance between their commitment at work and responsibilities at home simultaneously and therefore their mental health has been affected tremendously. In today’s time where the entire world has changed, employee well being has also taken a totally new dimension. On this context, Sunayna Malik asked the panelists what they are thinking differently about the new dimension of employee well being during this unprecedented time. Ian Rumsby started speaking and he said that now organisations are really focusing on transparent leadership. Through a visible and transparent leadership, organisations can definitely reduce the stress and worry about the uncertain future of the employees by providing them at least a strong sense of reality about what their future may look like. Then Penny Burgess took over and told about the difference of their internal communication strategies pre COVID and post COVID. Previously they were focused on giving every employee a work life balance or a nice work atmosphere in the office, creating a team spirit but now they are trying to build more open and personal relationship with their employees and their clients as well. She is seeing that COVID has affected each one very differently and people have reacted differently to this situation because everyone’s circumstances are varied. So, they are trying to provide more psychological support to their employees, being more accommodating and flexible in their work approach and communication strategies with their employees, clients and every stakeholder. Next, James Brasher spoke about the advantages and challenges that he is facing in his organisation. James Brasher said that we must be mindful of each other’s situation right now. According to him, this unpredictable situation has made the process of decision making more risky and more complex than usual. Elan Shou shared the scenario in China which is now at post COVID era. She shared that there have been differences of opinion between China management and Hongkong management regarding what is the best way to work in the new normal situation. China management did not find work from home very productive whereas Hong kong management is very keen to continue with work from home as they have felt that people work more diligently from home. The moderator questioned the speakers what is the behavioral shift that they are observing among employees working from home, staying away from social interaction and to answer that, Elan Shou stressed more on the importance of human touch and they try to ensure people see other people’s expression over a Zoom call and that’s why they prefer a zoom call with videos on rather than a conference call. Ian Rumsby agreed with Elan Shou and he said that adding fun is necessary while engaging with the employees where they talk about their own experiences. James Brasher shared his experiences about how previously they used to have team breakfast, fun games and they are continuing with those over zoom calls to ensure the culture stays alive. Penny Burgess said that they have resumed working in office again but people are anxious about their safety as they are using public transports so as an organisation, they have started helpline to ensure the stress-relieve of the employees. Elan Shou also shared her experience in her organisation right now. She said, in her organisation, people are working in different shifts, people don’t do lunch together now, they wear masks. She also told that every brands are now stressing on conversion from whatever they do online marketing or advertising or PR, they want a return of every single penny that they spend whereas previously the brands have talked more about reputation building. During COVID internal communication has been very crucial for every company and CSR has also changed its format so for them, it has been necessary to equip their employees with a very up-to-date knowledge. Ian Rumsby added that now, in the present situation, understanding employee sentiment has become very important for every organisation and personalised communication is going to be the key as we move forward. James Brasher threw light on the situation in Singapore where they are still in lockdown phase and they are trying to survey and track moods of the employees in their organisation as they are seeing people have become very pessimistic in this difficult situation. After this discussion, all the speakers talked about the importance of up-skilling and provide trainings to the employees to meet the business requirements and the evolving demands of the clients and they shared their views on new dynamic of the consultancy-client relationship. They also told that we have to be very quick in our adoption rates to cope up with new digitally advanced work trends. Ian Rumsby specifically pointed out that we have become more disciplined after COVID and he thinks that relationship dynamic between consultancy and clients have changed for better. The speakers shared their biggest challenges and for most of them it will be to restore optimism among the employees. 

The webinar ended with taking few questions from the attendees and the speakers answered them very nicely. 

During this COVID time, over all, this was an incredibly insightful webinar for all of us.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Chandrayee Mukherjee
Chandrayee Mukherjee is a part of Class of 2020 of PG Programme in PR and Corporate Communications at SCoRe, Mumbai. She completed her winter internship with Genesis BCW

She is from Konnagar. She did her Bachelors in English literature and language from Asutosh College, Kolkata. A small town-girl with so many dreams in her eyes, travel enthusiast, foodie, pluviophile, music-lover, nature-lover, feminist, pistanthrophobic, and an Aspiring PR professional. She loves Reading fictions, Writing poems and blogs, Singing.

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