By Robin Hoyle, Head of Learning and Development at Huthwaite International
For the first time in history, there is the potential for four generations of employees in the workforce at the same time. While it may be odd to think you could be working alongside your Great-Granny, it is not out of the question as the age at which employees can afford to retire extends ever upwards.
This may be only a mathematical possibility in real life, as the generations usually defined when discussing workplace age diversity relate to demographic categories. However, these categories are much beloved by marketers and those who favour broad stereotypes over a more thoughtful understanding of differing needs, characteristics and aspirations.
Some Traditionalists – those born pre-1945 – are still in the workplace. While this may still be a little unusual, it is significantly more common than it once was. The Office of National Statistics in the UK reported over one million people beyond state retirement age still working in 2016. Having much better health for longer, a career which has defined them and adult children still relying on their parents for support, many of those in their 70’s are still working.
The Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – are more numerous than any other generation, but are also beginning to leave the workforce. This creates two pressures for organisations – how to maintain the skillset of those who stay, and replace the expertise and experience of those who leave.
One key feature of those over 50, but within the ‘normal’ range for retirement, is that opportunities to move jobs may be fewer than they once were. Quite simply, most over 50’s report a significant lack of interest from firms who characterise over this demographic as being expensive, out of touch and likely to retire before they add real value in a role. Much of this is, of course, is nonsense.
That 50-year-old applicant could have 20 years at work ahead of them. They may be more financially independent and – having got rid of the kids and the mortgage – be prepared to take a pay cut to undertake work of real value and interest. Most importantly, this is the generation that invented most of the technology that has disrupted our daily lives. If anyone can view this technology critically but constructively, they can. But, as with any employee, their skills need maintaining and updating. As change happens, it happens to everyone. As these people are likely to stay in your company longer than their younger colleagues, developing their capability is a need to do, not a nice to do.
Generation X – born between 1965 and 1980 – are often characterised as entrepreneurial risk takers. Obviously, if your parents wore flares and flowers in their hair, this has naturally led to you being independent and driven. A rejection of parental influence perhaps? Who knows?Like all these generalisations it is simple to deconstruct the stereotype and show it for the guff it clearly is. The fact the supposedly learned management thinkers still pedal this stuff is both disheartening and maddening in equal proportion.
Finally, we come to the Millennials – those born since 1980 and entering the workforce within the 21st Century. These impatient digital natives are allegedly more values driven, less ambitious, not focused on work as a defining feature of their existence and more collaborative in nature. We are told that they are constantly connected and that they value instant social interaction over face to face meetings.
As a parent to and colleague of millennials, I struggle to reconcile these characterisations with my own lived experience. My adult children and the people with whom I work with do not fit any single definition that snugly. Are they connected? Sure. More than older people? Maybe, a little. Does it drive collaboration? Not noticeably. I could go on.
A couple of years after the 2008 financial crash, I recall reading an article which described millennialsas the saviours of our planet. Their social concerns and deep and abiding worries about global warming meant that they were the generation to lead us to a more harmonious future. They were the generation shocked by the financial crash and anxious to put shared values above individual profit.
The same week I saw a report from the Association of Graduate Recruiters; this included application numbers for different graduate schemes. On average, around 80 students nearing the end of their degree were applying for each graduate scheme place.
Except in one industry.
At the point in history when bankers were being reproached for elevating personal profiteering over sound business; the point at which the level of City bonuses was bringing opprobrium on the heads of those working in finance, the over-subscription for graduate schemes in merchant banks was twice as high as the average. Over 150 millennial graduates were applying for every single vacancy for banking graduate recruitment schemes.
Now it would be crass to make a judgment about generational values and outlooks based on this one insight, but it suggests that the portrayal of millennials as being somehow different from their more individualistic, self-interested forebears may not stand a lot of scrutiny. When billions in bonuses are on offer, our idealistic millennials are as interested in cold, hard cash as any other generation.
By now you may have guessed that my acceptance of these generational archetypes is less than wholehearted. I despair about most kinds of generalisation, but at least when applied to race, religion, gender or sexual orientation there will be some kind of protest. When applied to large swathes of people on the basis of their date of birth, stereotypes seem less likely to be questioned.
This seems to be particularly true in the case of millennials. Not only have older people seemed to define millennials as somehow ‘other’ or different, this generational badge seems to have been adopted by many within the millennial age range. Some millennials seem especially keen to self-identify with the characteristics foisted on them by others.
Within the world of learning and development these ill-thought out millennial stereotypes have informed a lot of focus of late. Reviewing product literature – especially in the area of learning technology – reading blogs, articles and listening to conference speeches will show you how the myth of millennials has infiltrated the zeitgeist. Google ‘HR and millennials’ and 684,000 links pop up, mostly to advisory white papers by large, prestigious consultancy businesses who really ought to know better.
When it comes to challenges with apps, digital, social and anything else that feels like another language for learning, maybe it helps us feel less overwhelmed if we can be consoled by the idea that the ‘kids get it’. Well, sorry to break it to you – they don’t. Feel overwhelmed.
In 2016, Towards Maturity, the non-profit think tank and learning technology benchmarking organisation sought to understand once and for all how different generations learn. Their Learner Voice 3 report from October last year is subtitled “What can millennials teach us about supporting learning in the workplace?”
As the introduction to the report says: “The focus on today’s younger generation joining the workforce has provided a renewed vigour for L&D professionals to review their current provision. They are looking to modernise learning to address the perceived needs of a new generation of demanding and digital workers.”
With over 4,500 respondents to the survey, a third of whom were under 30 years old, the questions were around how people learn at work, what components of a development initiative they find useful and the initiatives they were involved in to develop their own skills.
A headline finding from the report is that there is only a marginal difference across generations when discussing learning preferences, attitudes to technology and the support needed to help them develop knowledge and skills. In other words, good practice in learning design is good practice in learning design. The age profile of the participants is irrelevant. Providing informal learning opportunities, line manager support for self-development and opportunities to collaborate, are valued by the over 50s just as much as they are by the under 30s. The things that don’t work; dull and irrelevant content, badly organised information that is difficult to find, poor IT infrastructure, become a turn off regardless of the decade of your birth.
Now at this point, it would be easy to say “Who knew?” in an especially sarcastic voice, roll our eyes and carry on doing what we’ve been doing for years. In Learning and Development we’re pretty good at doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results. That’s the definition of stupidity, after all, and a lot of L&D practice is pretty stupid.
The biggest conclusion from the Towards Maturity report is that there is a clear gap between what L&D does and what learners want. Employees have strong feelings about how they like to learn, but L&D do not necessarily prioritise activity in these areas. There is a focus on delivering certain types of experience to some staff which would be equally valuable for everyone else.L&D teams infrequently engage with audiences. This inevitably means that specific learning solutions are based on assumptions rather than insights, on feelings rather than facts.
By looking to these two issues, the solution to a multi-generational, diverse workforce and the challenge faced by HR and L&D teams starts to become clear. We need more insights. We need more facts. We need to know who our people are – their aspirations, challenges and ways of working. We need to build solutions capable of being adapted to individual needs, without compromising on core messages and common values. In short, we need a personalised route to gaining collective capability.
If we reject the idea that ‘one size fits all’ or that ‘something’ needs to be capable of working at a large scale, we need to replace it with something. Imagine the situation where you wish to transform a way of doing things in your organisation. My colleagues and I work most often with people involved in selling. Periodically most top classorganisations review sales processes looking for means of improvement. Organisations which are serious about transformation look for an evidence based approach, which helps their sales teams deliver more value to customers than the competition. As well as process redesign, this also requires new skills and therefore new learning. It may also require ‘unlearning’ – helping experienced sales people to adapt their skills to new paradigms and ways of working.
How can this be personalised? It is not a matter of each individual in an organisation coming up with their own way of working. The whole point of this kind of sales transformation is to enablesales people to adopt recognised best practice, to use the same vocabulary and processes. To work as one team with a unified vision and a collective approach. The ‘what works for me’ model is inconsistent with an enterprise wide adoption of key skills and behaviours.
But as the Towards Maturity report also makes clear there are three learning modes or activities that all generations find valuable. The good thing is that all of them work to support a degree of personalisation.
- Collaboration with peers: sharing information and learning from the experiences of others is cross generational. Indeed, over 50’s found this slightly more valuable than under 30’s, but in all age groups this was valued by over 80% of respondents.
Creating mechanisms for collaboration is an essential part of 21st century learning activities. Learning from each other’s successes (and mistakes) and working at something together maintains momentum – not least when it’s easier to simply go back to doing things in the way we’ve always done them. Most importantly, it enables each individual to shape their learning to their needs. To speed ahead in the vanguard when appropriate, to take their time and observe others when required. Collaboration that works needs to be consistent with team and organisational culture and very often that requires active leadership involvement. Which is good, because manager involvement is number two on our list.
- Support from a line manager or leader: If, like me, you can recall a situation where you attended a course, came back all fired up and excited to implement what you had learned and were met by indifference by your team leader, then you can identify the importance of manager involvement in developing skills. It’s a shame that most of us can recognise what happens when it is absent more easily than when it is present.
Again, all ages found that their manager’s interest in and support for learning activities was valuable. Our millennials slightly more so than their older colleagues, but this is a function of experience, as much as age. If an individual is to make that leap from finding out about new things to trying out new skills in the workplace, then manager involvement is essential. It may be granting permission to try things out, to experiment, to do things differently. It could be active encouragement and being given time and space. It might be one to one support or coaching. It could be active enablement from a manager with additional expertise and experience, who can assist the team member to navigate new environments.
Whatever level of engagement, the manager’s role is non-negotiable. But managers will complain that it isn’t their job, that they don’t have bandwidth or time to support learning. This is a roles and responsibilities issue;anagers who do not think their role involves helping their team build skills and capability are not managers. Managers who know it’s their job but don’t do it need help planning their time or prioritising their personal workload. Managers who are incapable of supporting learning interventions need learning intervention themselves.
Towards Maturity found that only a quarter of organisations are equipping their managers with the skills to help their teams get the most from formal learning activities.
- Learning at their own pace: The third insight about learner’s preferences is that it is valuable for individuals to work at their own pace, to develop the skills they need when they need them. This could, and does, lead to a laissez faire attitude to development. Individuals are told in general terms that maintaining and updating their skills is expected, but little support, resource or direction is offered.
The key is to relentlessly focus on performance. What standards need to be met? What does good look like? What is acceptable, what is outstanding? Focusing on what people should do and how well they should do it works, but only if the means for capability improvement are available.
But remember, one size does not fit all. Your armoury will need to be well stocked. Courses, resources, formal learning and informal job aids. FAQs and forums. Ask the expert and share your expertise.
Your people need learning which is Just In Time, Just Enough and Just For Me.
By properly understanding adult learners at work we can provide them with a learning eco-system designed for any eventuality.
We can’t define what will work on the basis of generational generalisations. Understanding the ‘three justs’, requires us to understand our learners as individuals who want to do their job to the best of their abilities.
To find out more about Huthwaite as a world leading sales and negotiation business visit: https://huthwaiteinternational.com/
The 2020 Outbound Email Data Breach Report Finds Growing Email Volumes and Stressed Employees are Causing Rising Breach Risk
Research by Egress reveals organisations suffer outbound email data breaches approximately every 12 working hours
Egress, the leading provider of human layer data security solutions, today released their 2020 Outbound Email Data Breach Report, which highlights the true scale of data security risks related to email use. 93% of IT leaders surveyed said that their organisation had suffered data breaches through outbound email in the last 12 months. On average, the survey found, an email data breach happens approximately every 12 working hours.*
Rising outbound email volumes due to COVID-19-related remote working and the digitisation of manual processes are also contributing to escalating risk. 94% of respondents reported an increase in email traffic since the onset of COVID-19 and 70% believe that working remotely increases the risk of sensitive data being put at risk from outbound email data breaches.
The study, independently conducted by Arlington Research on behalf of Egress, interviewed 538 senior managers responsible for IT security in the UK and US across vertical sectors including financial services, healthcare, banking and legal.
Key insights from respondents include:
· 93% had experienced data breaches via outbound email in the past 12 months
· Organisations reported at least an average of 180 incidents per year when sensitive data was put at risk, equating to approximately one every 12 working hours
· The most common breach types were replying to spear-phishing emails (80%); emails sent to the wrong recipients (80%); incorrect file attachments (80%)
· 62% rely on people-led reporting to identify outbound email data breaches
· 94% of surveyed organisations have seen outbound email volume increase during COVID-19. 68% say they have seen increases of between 26 and 75%
· 70% believe that remote working raises the risk of sensitive data being put at risk from outbound email data breaches
When asked to identify the root cause of their organisation’s most serious breach incident in the past year, the most common factor was “an employee being tired or stressed”. The second most cited factor was “remote working”. In terms of the impact of the most serious breach incident, on an individual-level, employees received a formal warning in 46% of incidents, were fired in 27% and legal action was brought against them in 28%. At an organisational-level, 33% said it had caused financial damage and more than one-quarter said it had led to an investigation by a regulatory body.
Traditional email security tools are not solving this problem
The research also found that 16% of those surveyed had no technology in place to protect data shared by outbound email. Where technology was deployed, its adoption was patchy: 38% have Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools in place, while 44% have message level encryption and 45% have password protection for sensitive documents. However, the study also found that, in one-third of the most serious breaches suffered, employees had not made use of the technology provided to prevent the breach.
Egress CEO Tony Pepper comments: “Unfortunately, legacy email security tools and the native controls within email environments, such as Outlook for Microsoft 365, are unable to mitigate the outbound email security risks that modern organisations face today. They rely on static rules or user-led decisions and are unable to learn from individual employees’ behaviour patterns. This means they can’t detect any abnormal changes that put data at risk – such as Outlook autocomplete suggesting the wrong recipient and a tired employee adding them to an email.”
“This problem is only going to get worse with increased remote working and higher email volumes creating prime conditions for outbound email data breaches of a type that traditional DLP tools simply cannot handle. Instead, organisations need intelligent technologies, like machine learning, to create a contextual understanding of individual users that spots errors such as wrong recipients, incorrect file attachments or responses to phishing emails, and alerts the user before they make a mistake.”
Organisations still cannot paint a full picture of the risks, relying on people-led reporting to identify email breaches, despite severe repercussions
When an outbound email data breach happens, IT leaders were most likely to find out about it from employees. 20% said they would be alerted by the email recipient, 18% felt another employee would report it, while 24% said the employee who sent the email would disclose their error. However, given the penalties that respondents said were in place for employees who cause a breach, it is not guaranteed that they will be keen to own up, especially if the incident is serious. 46% said that the employee who caused a breach was given a formal warning, while legal action was taken in 28% of cases. In 27% of serious breach cases, respondents said the employee responsible was fired.
Tony Pepper comments: “Relying on tired, stressed employees to notice a mistake and then report themselves or a colleague when a breach happens is unrealistic, especially given the repercussions they will face. With all the factors at play in people-led data breach reporting, we often find organisations are experiencing 10 times the number of incidents than their aware of. It’s imperative that we build a culture where workers are supported and protected against outbound email breach risk with technology that adapts to the pressures they face and stops them from making simple mistakes in the first place. As workers get used to more regular remote working and reliance on email continues to grow, organisations need to step up to safeguard both employees and data from rising breach risk.”
Creating an engaging email marketing campaign that avoids the junk folder
By David Wharram, CEO of Coast Digital
With more than 280 billion emails sent every day, email marketing is a tried and tested marketing method with a multitude of benefits. In addition to resonating with those looking to save on their marketing spend, email marketing generates significant ROI for businesses. Statistics have shown that email marketing significantly outperforms social media when trying to reach customers, while also proving more cost-effective. Additionally, Mckinsey found that email marketing is 40 times more successful at gaining customers than Twitter and Facebook combined.
As business owners digest these facts – low cost, high return – it can be tempting to plan a barrage of untargeted marketing emails to both prospective and existing customers. Yet, this “spray and pray” approach may not generate as many sales leads as you’d hope. In fact, this method often tends to deter prospective customers and impact the relationship with existing clients, resulting in your emails consistently making their way into the junk folder. The key to a successful email marketing campaign is investing in the right tools to plan, automate, track, and analyse your outreach.
Like other marketing channels, email marketing takes effective planning and the right strategy to make it work. Rather than trying to sell a product or service from the outset, you need to engage with the customer and build trust with them first. To do this, you need to consider who the customer is, how to reach them and what information they are likely to want. For example, returning customers will be much more receptive to an email presenting discounts and timed offers. However, new or prospective customers would most likely prefer to familiarise themselves with your businesses first in order to understand how your product or service will benefit them.
Not only do you need to identify different audiences and identify how to engage them, but you should also consider the frequency of communication. Too often, and your emails could appear as spam. Too irregular and there’s a risk the customer might forget about you or turn to a competitor.
A crucial part of planning the overall strategy is considering the ideal outcome. Whether this is to attract new customers, send product or service updates, or retain customers through offers and discounts, the objective will determine the scope of the entire campaign.
The results of a well thought out email marketing strategy can drive brand awareness, boost lead generation and increase revenue. The results of a poorly planned strategy often lead to disgruntled recipients and a high number of unsubscribes.
Keep content relevant, personal and useful
In addition to planning the overall strategy of your campaign, you need to consider the content you will push out to your audience. From our experience, this will largely depend on which goals have been determined during the planning process.
It’s essential to ensure you’re providing something of value. While you want to make sure that your email marketing campaigns generate ROI, you also need to make the recipients feel that they’re not always being sold to. The key to this is by building a level of trust with the audience, which can be achieved by providing relevant advice and insights, or by asking for feedback.
Additionally, audiences are more receptive to content that is personal to them. It’s easy to spot a generic email that has been created to cover all bases for an entire mailing list. Therefore, making the emails more personalised to recipients tends to strengthen the overall campaign.
According to recent research by Econsultancy, personalisation remains a top priority for marketers as 67% of those asked said that was the main focus for improving their campaigns. Also, a study by Salesforce found that 84% of consumers prefer to be treated like a person not a number. That’s why taking the time to make content more relevant to the receiver could make or break the campaign.
Evaluate and evolve
Once your initial outreach has been complete, you need to take the time to reflect on your efforts. One aspect of the planning process should include setting clear metrics and KPIs so that you can be clear on whether these were met or not. There are several metrics that businesses should consider when it comes to the success of their campaign – including clickthrough rate, conversion rate, bounce rate and email forwarding rate. Each KPI will depend on the overall goal. Companies need to invest in the right tools and resources to evaluate email marketing campaigns, especially if this is new territory. Measuring the success of your outreach will enable you to determine what worked well, what needs refining or what needs to be completely overhauled. What’s more, if the initial campaign didn’t generate the outcome you were hoping, don’t be deterred from using email marketing altogether and instead use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
Email marketing remains one of the most effective methods to engage with your audience on an ongoing basis. However, far too many businesses try to run before they walk and could be spamming their customers with irrelevant, uninteresting content. To ensure your outreach is successful, you need to effectively plan your outreach – considering your audience and delivering helpful and engaging content to them will help your emails avoid the dreaded junk folder.
How to communicate when the world is in crisis
By Callum Jackson Account Executive at communications agency Cicero/AMO
Across sectors both private and public, the coronavirus crisis has brought with it a list of overused yet unavoidable tropes. Phrases such as ‘rapidly changing times’, ‘the new normal’ and the king of COVID clichés ‘unprecedented’ have been deployed by communications experts of all ilks to engage audiences, linking their products and businesses to the pandemic however they can. In fact, amongst online news articles from January to September this year, ‘unprecedented’ received about six times more column space than over the same period in 2019. The financial services sector is far from immune – a quick scan of the 21.9 million Google results which the search term “unprecedented banking covid” throws up reveals a distinct preference for the platitudinal over the insightful.
But as often as this is said, it bears repeating: communication plays a central role in all of our lives and all of our businesses. In the banking and financial services sector, one PR misstep can mean the difference between an investment round succeeding or failing, between a challenger being awarded its coveted banking licence or having its reputation demolished, between a fintech app appearing on every other smart phone in the country or dying an obscure death.
While communication is vital, however, it is not a straightforward science or art at the best of times. Below are some key approaches for comms professionals to consider taking when communicating during a crisis.
- Start with the bank in the mirror
In all sub-sectors of the comms industry, from in-house external comms to agency PR and everything in between, inauthenticity stands out like a sore thumb, and badly thought-through messaging or imagery can reek of it. Take Pepsi’s heavily pilloried 2017 ad campaign featuring Kendall Jenner, the imagery of which attempted to position the soft drink – and the business producing it – as a saviour of divided and oppressed communities. Accused of seeking to capitalise on the Black Lives Matter movement, Pepsi rightly pulled the commercial and apologised for missing the mark entirely. Interrogating what your business stands for, what it does well, what its goals are and, most importantly, what it is not in the business of (in the case of Pepsi, saving the world) is essential to communicating with your stakeholders authentically. This has been conventional wisdom amongst banking and finance grandees for a while. In 2015, Tesco Bank’s then CEO Benny Higgins noted, “Authenticity [is critical] – we all have strengths and weaknesses but being authentic gives a consistent notion of what your leadership is about.” By all means, talk about doing good but make sure it’s good you’re actually doing.
- Read the room
Being aware of your audiences’ needs is two-fold. First, it is about identifying the topics that consumers of news (be they your customers, your suppliers or the general public) want and need to hear about, and secondly, it’s about being sensitive to audiences’ anxieties and preoccupations. Our current environment is characterised by companies asking staff to take pay cuts, having furloughed others at 80% of their salary, all while social distancing or staying home. During these – yes, unprecedented… – anxiety-inducing times, money saving advice, working from home tips, and information on the best cost-saving financial products are subjects of interest and necessity to journalists and readers. Listicles of the best luxury summer getaways are not. Think about what your business or client is doing that might directly help those who are worst affected and use that as a springboard for your communications messaging.
- Look ahead
In late 2019, few of us could have foreseen the sheer magnitude of a potential pandemic, nor indeed its short-term and residual effects on the economy, society, and individual financial institutions. However, as professionals in charge not only of spreading the good news but also of putting out reputational fires, it is the duty of financial services PRs to game various scenarios – sorted by likelihood and impact – pre-empting possible outcomes and preparing for the negative fallout as well as the positive opportunities a situation might present. Looking ahead to identify these ‘opportunities’ is not per se a cynical attempt to boost business reputations or commercial outcomes. It can and should involve looking ahead to ascertain the potential silver linings, gifts in disguise, and diamonds in the rough that come along with a crisis. One unforeseen consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a reminder of the warmth, appreciation and even love we feel towards the frontline workers of the NHS. If yours is the company that finances the manufacture of their uniforms, insures the production of their machinery, or invests on behalf of the factory that makes their PPE, you should be proud of that and should let others be proud too. All this requires
foresight, however – the ability to identify both the risks and opportunities of a dire situation.
- Adapt your offering
Shouting from the rooftops about something you do well, especially when it has a net good impact on the world, is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, a surprising number of businesses are actually quite bad at telling us what’s good about them – particularly those that need to the most: banks. Cue the PR professional. But that quality of self-promotion – not in the sneering, braggartly sort of way; but rather the recognition that telling your story is how people get to know you – only stands up when what you’re promoting really is good, both morally and commercially speaking. If you are planning a campaign showing that your customer, The Big Bad Oil & Gas Company Ltd., is doing wonders for the planet, it had better be investing heavily in wind and solar, offsetting its carbon output and cleaning up natural areas affected by its commercial activities, and not just paying lip service to environmental conscientiousness. And if your customer or your own business isn’t doing those things, it is time to re-evaluate the corporate strategy. Too many heads of comms are cautious of recommending product and operational changes that require significant investment for fear of CEOs’ eyes rolling back into their heads with ‘dollar shock’. But if you want to be known for doing something good, you had better do it well.
- Take advantage of digital
It comes as no surprise that shares in videoconferencing services such as Zoom (NASDAQ: ZM) just about doubled between late January and mid-April (up to $142.80 from $70.44). As demand for online services increases due to prolonged social distancing and isolation measures, so too does the need for journalists, and therefore PRs, to produce quality digital content that speaks the language of technology. Rather than asking how your logo will change or about the latest appointment to your board, media and the audiences that read them are increasingly asking, ‘How does your company’s offering help us do business, manage our money, or lead better lives by harnessing smart data, open finance, AI, etc.?’ Or more generally, ‘How can I do all the things I’m used to doing and need to do without leaving my house?’ Most banks provide online banking, most insurers allow digital policy purchases and claims, most lenders enable virtual applications or use digital ID to confirm affordability and suitability. If your business is lagging behind, it’s time to catch up.
- Put a relevant twist on business as usual
“Well, our business doesn’t do anything to do with viruses,” is a natural reaction to a crisis that no one saw coming and that stands to affect the global economy in a meaningful way for years to come. But, as well as being natural, it is also limiting. Thinking creatively about the ways our product offerings and operations do, in some way, affect the outcome of a crisis does not have to extend to preventing the spread of a disease or accelerating the creation of a vaccine. It may be that your lending platform can offer mortgage holidays for those financially impacted by the pandemic or that the insurer you work for can interpret policies leniently and with compassion – especially important in light of the FCA’s recent finding on business interruption insurance. Showing your worth in a crisis does not require you to be a central cog in the machine, nor does it require you to dominate the narrative in order to have cut-through. Do your bit, however small, and then tell us about it.
Being alive to developments in politics, society, culture, science and business, and remaining nimble and ready to adapt to those developments sensitively are the cornerstones of good communications. The ancient Greeks knew this before we did; it was no storytelling accident that Olympus’ divine messenger, Hermes, wore winged sandals. The metaphor may be ham-fisted, but the sentiment is sound: sensitivity, fleet-footedness and boldness are the communicator’s greatest weapons. Don’t be a Pepsi, be a Hermes.
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