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Public Relations and Human Resources: Working Together to Combat the Great Resignation

By December 31, 2021No Comments

office with no employees

You’ve seen the statistics. 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021. That’s on top of the combined 11.5 million that resigned in May, June and July. This isn’t just a news headline – chances are in your own company you’re seeing key members of staff leave to pursue other options. 

As a public relations and marketing consultant, working with CEOs across a number of industries, I’m seeing this trend play out in real time. Workers are now in the driver’s seat. For any company or brand, the world is literally their competition right now. One of my clients, a management consultancy, was recently about to make an offer to an exemplary candidate, but before they knew it, that individual was hired away by an overseas competitor. 

The Great Resignation is real, and it doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon. There are various reasons people are walking away from their jobs and seeking change. The pandemic caused a lot of people to refocus and reevaluate their work and life priorities. It accelerated what was already bubbling up underneath the surface. After all, people don’t just quit a job; they quit bad workplace cultures. The conditions wrought by the pandemic led to new employee needs and demands, and reinforced a growing sense among workers that they deserve better treatment overall. For working parents in particular, greater flexibility and better benefits became necessities.

What Are Companies and their HR Teams Doing about the Current Labor Crisis?

Leadership and human resources teams are busy creating policies and building an inviting work-life culture in an attempt to stem off a siege of turnovers and attract the talent that is leaving competitors in record numbers. They are re-examining company culture and core values, asking themselves:

  • Is the company in tune with what employees (and employee prospects) want and need? 
  • Are we listening intentionally to employee feedback and responding to it?
  • Are our people immersed in the company culture and connected to each other from day one? 
  • How can we attract excellent new employees to your company? 
  • How can we make sure that existing employees feel supported to thrive with us by introducing things like “job crafting”?

If you’ve made great strides tapping into what today’s employees want and building a workplace where employees are engaged, motivated and want to stay, now is the time to spread the word about it. Your human resource team should be working hand-in-hand with your public relations team to navigate the Great Resignation and attract and retain the talent you need to take the company forward.

7 HR / PR Strategies to Ensure Your Brand Story Is One of Your Company’s Biggest Assets 

Based on my cross-industry experience as a PR and marketing consultant, these are the actions I advise my clients to take right now to come out ahead in today’s tight labor market:

1. Reevaluate your company culture and employee benefits to identify what may be causing people to leave. 

Rebuild your culture from the ground up so that it’s better suited to the needs of today’s employees. Show team members that you trust them to get their work done and give them the flexibility to balance their work and life as needed. Provide opportunities for employees to carve out their own career path. Ask yourself which factors could be driving higher resignation rates? 

2. Change your company narrative

Once you’ve realigned company policies and benefits, develop your new story and promote it across all communications platforms. There’s so much competition for excellent people, and the best talent likely wants to go into roles that seem more desirable right now. 

3. Raise the CEO’s visibility.

The CEO is your company’s key brand ambassador. Leverage their influence and make sure they are visible on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn and/or LinkedIn Live, their video platform, as a primary vehicle to share the reasons why the company is a great one to work for, how it cares about its people, how it helps employees to carve out a fulfilling career path, etc. Use photos and videos to illustrate the CEO in a human way, “walking the walk and talking the talk.” 

4. Build out your content strategy around your story

Develop content that addresses company culture, benefits and hiring needs as appropriate. This will help position you as an HR innovator that focuses both on its products and services, as well as the team behind them. You want to showcase your passion for people.

5. Get featured in the news media.

One of the most effective ways to build company credibility is to be featured in top news media that key stakeholders read. This includes B2B trade publications and national news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes or Fast Company. Seize opportunities to provide expert commentary on HR trends related to company culture and leadership where you can share your new narrative.

6. Spread your thought leadership.

The news media loves “real” stories of how change happens in companies. Have the CEO write a bylined article that illustrates where the company was pre-COVID and where it’s going.

7. Communicate internally. 

Create an internal communication channel where people can share their ideas and develop interpersonal relationships. This helps to keep your brand story fresh and authentic, as well as creates internal engagement and ownership.

Like all crises, the Great Resignation contains huge opportunities. Your company could be one that seizes this chance to develop a flourishing internal culture, create heightened visibility with potential new hires, and deepen your engagement with customers, fans and followers – if you have your human resources and public relations teams working together.

Julie Livingston

Author Julie Livingston

Julie Livingston is president/founder of WantLeverage Communications

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