What Media Companies Need To Know About Employee Engagement During A Time of Crisis and Redundancies

Businessman with white umbrella protecting himself from the storm.

By Cate Murden, CEO of PUSH Mind and Body

The media industry is dealing with significant change and uncertainty. As companies like Twitter and META announce mass redundancies, staff within the media industry are more worried than ever about the stability of their careers.

This fear is only compounded by the prevailing effects of the pandemic and the changing nature of work. Collectively, employees are more stressed than ever before, with mental health taking a significant hit.

At PUSH Mind and Body, we recently surveyed employees, middle managers and c-suite executives at media companies in the UK. We found that, since the pandemic, 88% of managers say teams have faced “stress” and “anxiety”, while a further 63% say teams are experiencing a “communication breakdown” and are suffering from “burnout”.

To overcome these turbulent times, organisations need to recognise that uncertainty can also hold the key to growth. However, positive change won’t happen by itself. Growth, change and innovation require a certain set of conditions to occur.

In this article, we’ll explore how media companies can support employees and equip them with the right conditions, not just to survive – but to truly thrive during a time of crisis.

Moreover, if redundancies are inevitable, we’ll discuss why it’s so important to maintain good relationships with these people and help them get back on their feet.

Employees need support from managers

Given the escalating economic crisis, a sharp increase in cost-of-living and a spate of redundancies in the media sector, employees are now facing a tumultuous and uncertain time.

The pivot to remote and hybrid working has fundamentally changed how businesses operate but companies haven’t implemented the right environment to allow people to thrive, nor have managers equipped employees with the right skills and behaviours needed to navigate a crisis.

This isn’t just a matter of opinion. It’s backed by hard data.

For example, we asked employees at media companies what skills and behaviours they need to make hybrid work at a time of crisis better. 88% of employees want “advice from managers on how to switch off” and “strategies to deal with loneliness”, while 41% are seeking “better communication” and more than a quarter (26%) want “burnout support”.

These problems stem from a lack of organisational willingness to support employees and prioritise wellbeing, particularly at a time when already damaged people are being asked to operate in an entirely new framework.

Clearly, a new solution is needed if organisations can hope to remedy the problem at hand.

Helping the existing workforce deal with change and uncertainty

Mounting social and economic pressure places a significant burden on mentally bruised people to adapt, evolve and thrive on their own accord.

Since the pandemic, more than a quarter of employees (28%) say work has gone down in their list of priorities. At the same time, “self-care” has more than doubled in its importance to employees, jumping from just 14% pre-pandemic to 38% post-pandemic.

People are crying out for engagement, support and to be heard.

Uncertainty is one of the root causes of anxiety, so media companies must find ways to implement preventative mental health training that gives people the tools needed to manage their minds through continual volatility.

This is the next best thing to having a superpower and enables people to “think better” and “feel better” when life throws them a curveball.

For companies that want to improve the performance of the existing workforce, we must embrace skills that go against the traditional walls of safety we have built around ourselves.

This means embracing behaviours that enable a growth mindset, such as:

  • Looking at failure as a learning experience and creating an environment where failure is accepted
  • Embracing curiosity and using this to drive innovation, rather than trying to control or assess everything with assumptions and judgments
  • Instilling confidence within employees to form deep, meaningful relationships, deal with conflict effectively and speak up for themselves
  • Creating a culture of self-acceptance where people will stop fighting what is and stay focused on the future

How to look to the future if redundancies are inevitable

If media companies are forced to make tough decisions regarding redundancies in the coming months, then support for employees shouldn’t be an after-thought.

Instead, find ways to help people get back into a fulfilling career. Here are some quick-win strategies to support employees during a lay-off:

  • Openly and honestly communicate the situation
  • Walk people through the shock of redundancy and explain how the brain copes with change to help them reframe and resize their life, ambitions and outlook
  • Take some time to help them with financial planning amidst changing circumstances
  • Reset the individual’s purpose, values and mindset
  • Help refine their interview techniques, tactics and presence
  • Provide advice on personal brand and identity, with practical tools such as helping to develop their LinkedIn profile
  • Invest in personalised mental health and wellbeing support

At PUSH Mind and Body, we have created a new service called “Look to the Future”, which is an in-person day programme of modules which take people through the pathway of shock and grief at being let go, how the brain copes with change and then how to reframe and resize their life, ambitions, outlook, finances and personal marketing to get them back into a fulfilling career.

Empathetic and in-depth support should be a given from employers, especially against the backdrop of the pandemic and current cost-of-living crisis.

These efforts will positively impact the employer brand, create brand advocates (even during a time of stress and uncertainty) and lets the rest of the organisation know that the company truly cares about its people – even after they have been let go.

If media companies can get this right and ensure employees are prepared to face whatever the future brings, then the organisation will be better equipped to ride the next wave of uncertainty and be more innovative than ever before.