Since the evolution of mankind, perhaps one of the most powerful tools that can start war or establish peace is effective communication. Today, this remains true even for marketing and branding professionals, as a good communication strategy can make or break a brand. They leverage powerful communication in their arsenal to drive impactful change around important conversations. One such current goal for many organizations today is mental wellness. As the world grapples with the repercussions of the pandemic, mental health and wellbeing have become a global priority. But how can organizations use effective communication to raise awareness and foster a positive mental and physical environment for their employees?
Raising awareness through responsible messaging
The popular saying goes: “what you see becomes your reality”. The media play an important role in the construction of perceptions and the formation of opinions. For communication to be effective, it must be authentic and responsible. When creating communication strategies, marketers must be mindful of presenting information in a way that will create positive social behavior change. For example, even today, mental health issues are heavily stigmatized. Especially among corporate professionals, there is a fear of being perceived as “weak” or “incompetent” if employees openly discuss their mental health issues at work. Can organizations negate this by establishing offices as a safe space and normalizing mental challenges? It is absolutely necessary to fight this stigma and replace it with the communication of positive attitudes.
Communication professionals have a great responsibility when describing people with mental disorders. Very often, people associate negative attitudes with things that are communicated in a dismissive and cynical way. As a result, brand and marketers need to be careful not to hurt feelings – consciously or unconsciously. They must craft respectful and inclusive communication when addressing employees and their underlying mental issues.
Establish trust and honesty
Authenticity and transparency are the essence of effective communication. This helps create a safe space where employees can be themselves without feeling judged or ridiculed.
Over the past two years, more than half (55%) of employed professionals in India have felt stressed at work, according to LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index survey. When asked about the main reason, stress at work, work-life imbalance, insufficient income and slow career progression emerged as the main causes. About 34% of professionals cited the balance between work and personal needs as the main factor.
As brand and marketing professionals tasked with conveying an organization’s vision to internal and external audiences, developing honest, purpose-driven programs and initiatives is imperative. This should be intrinsic to the very culture of the organization. For example, many companies are giving their employees special time off to rewind and relax, to honor World Mental Health Day. But do they really facilitate a healthy work-life balance throughout the year? Intent and purpose should be tied to the larger business objective.
Communication must be dynamic and inclusive
A communication strategy cannot have a single approach. As people consume information across different platforms and mediums, it is imperative to develop a personalized and well-tailored strategy to reach different audiences. For example, Gen Z is the most anxious generation to date. For Gen-Zers, anxiety is fueled not only by the pandemic, but also by factors such as unemployment, climate change, technology, and more. They react to external stimuli differently than older generations and need innovative ways to capture their attention. Creative ways such as holding a social media challenge to talk about self-care tips in the workplace is something they would be interested in. Similarly, office gifts may include products such as fitness trackers, houseplants, and wellness products instead of the typically used mugs and office stationery. This will drive engagement and also promote awareness of the organization’s wellness goals.
Even in recruiting and hiring, companies can use AI tools and platforms to communicate their priority on mental wellbeing using words that positively convey the job description. For example, a woman returning to the workforce after a break might be more receptive to an organization that also emphasizes work-life balance, rather than just the long list of expected responsibilities. Thus, companies need to assess who they are trying to target and what would be the most relevant medium for them.
Especially as the future of work continues to evolve with flexible workspaces, feelings of alienation and distance have increased tenfold. While some employees are still adjusting to interacting with colleagues via a screen, others may struggle with the stress and social anxiety of office meetings. Companies need to have strong communication strategies in place to engage employees both virtually and physically.
Brand and marketing professionals should use their platform to effect change through effective workplace communication. To quote Gautam Buddha, “Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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