Re-define DE&I and CSI Models in the New Hybrid Workplace

Corporate America is undergoing a deep cultural change that cascades from the C-Suite to the mail room.  CEOs are challenged to lead in times of COVID and financial crisis, while defending trusted brands in response to social unrest and managing a remote workforce.

The workforce transformation is driven in part by the novel hybrid work model.  Employers are now faced to accommodate employees who demand more flexibility to work remotely after discovering that they can get their work done and continue being productive, while better managing their personal life.

The hybrid model, beyond complying with CDC guidelines to protect public health, is a transformational catalyst in corporate culture with many implications for the public relations professional charged with thought leadership and DE&I guided communications. Relationship building when employees are on-sight provides time for face-to-face casual conversations by the water cooler– moments when we learn more about our colleagues’ culture, heritage, and institutional knowledge.  DE&I programs need continuous development in order to evolve with the times, and the remote workforce challenges the organic interactions between employees and leadership—the pandemic seems to have changed it all.

Understanding the role of communication professionals and their mission to build a brand which resonates and impacts the national mood, is to recognize the importance of a marketing narrative. There is power in storytelling that is smart, authentic, and empathic in these trying times. A true diversity begins at the workplace.  Consider your employees as the brand personified.

CEO’s and corporate leaders have been engaged in defending their brands amid public scrutiny and their commitment to social equity. They also had to reorganize strategic business plans to maintain operations and adapt guidelines to better address their employees’ needs and retain productivity.

Comunicad’s staff has successfully leveraged technological tools, social media, and our relationship with NGOs on the creation of programs to address present community needs, vaccination efforts and in support of activism for social equity on behalf of our clients.

Further How has the CEO’s management style changed? Is the narrative for thought leaders adapted to best engage their customers and employees?  DE&I efforts have always been challenging, and they are becoming broader in scope with new affinity groups and diverse audiences evolving within the corporations.

For now, CEO’s and small businesses have pivoted with strategies to capitalize on the hybrid model to keep business open, and this is having a direct impact on employee recruitment and retention. Complicating the future of the workforce is fear of getting COVID and distrust of vaccination that for working parents with children result in a cascading series of challenges.   Caregivers are resigning, and parents are facing limited capacity at day care centers.  This reality adds to the escalating childcare costs, and parents are struggling to return to work.

As reported on NBC news, the future workplace is challenging corporations in most industries. A survey of 649 employees indicates 50% quit their jobs and 95% considered changes jobs, noting burnout and lack of job growth as the primary reasons.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2021 reported 3.6 million people quit their jobs compared to 9.2 million jobs available.   The top three industries hungry for hiring validate the change in employee mindset for onsite work. Companies related to education/health services, Trade/Transportation and Utilities as well as Professional Business Services are challenged to recruit sufficient employees for their operations.

The Washington Post also reported that “Given the resurgence of coronavirus cases, it’s clear that the way we work must change. COVID has taught us those workers want more than just a bigger paycheck, they also want flexibility, which for some is a priceless benefit.”

The Post also notes, “There’s a work benefits revolution coming. Companies that accept the changes will prosper. Those that don’t will lose their competitive edge. When possible, companies should allow employees to opt for full-time remote work or a hybrid option. If employees can’t work from home, there still needs to be flexible scheduling to allow them to take care of their families when the need arises.”

CEOs and Public Relations professionals designing DE&I programs now must do a deep dive with strategies that consider emerging subcultures like, anti-vaxxers and on-site vs. remote workers, to build a brand reputation as a favorable employer. Communications strategies are key and necessary for change. It’s daunting and challenging, but when done right the rewards are priceless. It can be done.

At Comunicad we believe thought leadership must craft a smarter public relations strategy that begins from within and is based on two thought action steps:

  • Enlist a team of experts who really know and understand the nuances of your employees — understanding employees are the ambassadors of the brand and influence consumers.
  • Find out what really resonates with the employees and your target audience – develop and understand the best way to communicate and engage with the many sub-cultures in the new or imagined future workforce

Comunicad is poised to provide thought leadership, pivoting to virtual models when required, and customized CSI programs based on our expertise impacting multicultural communities in partnership with Fortune 500 company C-Suite leaders and NGOs.  Our team builds trusted brands, working with thought leaders for favorable workplaces and social mobility programs.  Comunicad micro-targeted digital outreach initiatives impact diverse communities in and outside of the United States.

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