The global economic crisis can benefit employees

Desperate times don't always call for desperate measures. Our daily lives are flooded with negative economic reports in the media. Conversations amongst friends, colleagues (and often even strangers) about the tough economic climate are rife. We have all been told to fasten our belts and ‘vasbyt' as it seems (that for a while at least) times are going to remain tough. Retrenchments are commonplace, and our staff are uneasy. However, very simply, this situation can have a very different outcome. Have you ever stopped to consider that the economic crisis could favour staff morale and build stronger teams within your organisation?
Many of us underestimate how far we have come in terms of transformation within the workplace; cast your mind back 15 years, the workforce today is entirely different. We function phenomenally well accepting (at least, tolerating) our fellow colleagues - a massive mind shift from how we operated two decades ago! We need to place a pause on the focus on transformation (not disregarding its importance, merely putting the issue on hold for a while), rather shifting our attention to the new crisis that has emerged - the global financial meltdown. All is not doom and gloom, this crisis brings potentially very positive outcomes for employee engagement, uniting staff against a bigger common cause. The key here, is how organisations manage this process to ensure a positive outcome for all.

The world has changed and we need to see things with fresh perspective. Gone are the days of clinical communication campaigns and prescriptive processes, branded T-shirts and caps no longer suffice as an employee engagement programme. As organisations we need to look inward, because the external is always a mirror to what's going on internally. We need to walk the talk with our staff, but to do so they need to be equipped with the tools they need to succeed. Employees need to be viewed as individuals and our engagement programmes need to be integrally woven into every aspect of our organisation.

What is a brand... really?

A brand is the sum of the good, the bad, and the ugly and the off-strategy. It is your best and worst product. It is your best and worst employee. It is communicated through award-winning advertising as well as those ads that somehow slipped through the approval cracks and sank anything riding on them. It is your on-hold music and the demeanour of the receptionist who puts the valued client or prospect on hold. It is the carefully crafted comments by your CEO as well as the negative buzz by the water-cooler or in chat rooms on the internet.

Brand is expressed through written, audio and visual content. It is interpreted through emotional filters every human being has - where anything can happen. Ultimately, you can't control your brand. You can only hope to guide it.

Are you going to continue the way you always have, or will you dare to take a fresh look at how your organisation does things? Bear in mind, a crisis would be a terrible thing to waste!

* Anisa du Plessis (Managing Director) and Amanda Murray (Director of Brand Engagement) from The Brand Union, will be elaborating on this topic at The Employee Engagement conference hosted by Knowledge Resources on the 13th May at The Rosebank Hotel. For more information on this conference contact Debbie Atwell 083 6511664.

4 May 2009 16:13