The pandemic changed the way we all function, as hybrid workstyles brought new ways of communicating, reacting and interacting. Now, employers face new challenges as they juggle employee burnout, attrition through changes in lifestyle and the lure of career moves in a robust hiring marketplace. This demands that internal employee-focused initiatives become just as important -- or even more important -- as outbound marketing. While we have always considered our people to be our strongest assets, we now recognize the need for an amplified focus on ensuring that they remain motivated and feel valued, especially considering the extraordinary set of circumstances of the last year and a half. Our teams are not just our brand ambassadors and the face of OUTFRONT, they are the engine that makes the organization run smoothly. They are and will continue to be the most important factor of our pandemic and post-pandemic focus.
At OUTFRONT, Marketing and Human Resources (HR) are partnering to drive OUTFRONT's purpose from the inside out, acting as the main communicators and bringing new protocols and messaging to life to maximize employee engagement. OUTFRONT's purpose is to help people, places and business grow stronger, and the core manifestation of this internally is focused on the people piece. Our purpose is grounded in empathy, or the ability to be compassionate and connect with others both personally and professionally as well as with the communities in which we work. We know this is incredibly important, as The Center for Creative Leadership correlates empathy in the workplace with job performance. It is in the spirit of empathy that during the pandemic we launched a series of diverse initiatives including:
- A-List Guest Speakers: Weeks after the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020 we invited Reverend Kobi Little to speak to our teams for our inaugural Juneteenth celebration as a way to commemorate the day that celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S. Reverend Little made impactful remarks and conducted a Q&A that resonated with all employees. We expanded subsequent A-list events to include both our clients and our employees and have hosted Michael Dyson during Black History Month this February, Jay Shetty in May as part of Mental Health Awareness Month and Bakari Sellers in celebration of Juneteenth 2021.
- Conversations with Coffee (or Cocktails): Remote working stole the casual conversations that naturally occur when in the office and we wanted to bring back that sentiment through an informal chat forum that was employee driven. These virtual conversations source content from a varied group of employees and the whole company is invited to join in the conversation. There are two dedicated sessions per month; one is business focused, the other is a lifestyle discussion. The discourse and relationships that ensue are tremendous as anyone, from any function and at any level, can become a leader and many share interesting expertise and multi-dimensional characteristics that elicit deep respect from their co-workers. The people-focus of this initiative is what makes it genuine and successful.
- Purposeful Partnerships: As the most visible media company in America, we are often approached by and provide media to PSAs and 501c3 organizations to promote important causes. This year we wanted to be more intentional with our approach. We asked our employees what causes were important to them and two rose to the top: racial and social injustice, and food insecurity. The result is two partnerships, one with The Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in America, and the other with The Farmlink Project, an organization dedicated to connecting surplus food from farmers to families in need to battle food insecurity. We now engage in creative consultation, media and ongoing partnership support to both organizations.
- Front Street: Front Street was born during the initial lockdown of the pandemic. Its purpose was to create a platform that was topical and easy to digest and share. Internally, we lovingly refer to them as "TED Talk meets TikTok," as they are educational but generally under two minutes and full of imagery. To date, we have produced 54 episodes on a myriad of topics (you can view them on the OUTFRONTX Content Hub). The most exciting part of this venture is the all-inapproach we have taken in producing these, including employees across all disciplines and seniority (from C-Suite to summer interns). Everyone at OUTFRONT has a voice and we are proud to provide the right platform for all to be heard.
- Celebrating All Communities: We have leaned into the important month-long celebrations including Black History Month, Women's History Month, Asian Awareness Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, and the upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month. This year we engaged our Employee Resource Groups (ERG) to lead discussions on how to celebrate each of these using our own assets in a thought-provoking way. Using our ERGs enabled our employees to have a voice and for our creatives to develop content that resonates with our people. For Black History Month we launched our "Making Black History With …" campaign, which featured 20 trailblazing members of the Black community who have made a substantial impact in various fields such as medicine, science, politics, media and business. Another example is from Women's HERstory Month, with a campaign that showcased a modern take on paper dolls that better reflected all the uniformstoday's women wear with the tagline, "We are not playing." This powerful campaign was coupled with an internal Conversations and Coffee (or Cocktails) session and open forum driven through the Women's ERG.
These are but a handful of examples of the power of collaboration between marketing and human resources. At the core, the overlap is our people. The early days of the pandemic exposed us to different faces of our co-workers from video chat glimpses inside each other's homes and bookshelves, the poorly timed bark of our dogs, and the shared experience of first-time home-schooled children. As we move back toward "normalcy," we are eager not to lose what we learned about the importance of the very personal human factor in our organization and will continue to harness it in ways that were not on our radar before 2020.
We believe that these efforts and the continued two-way conversation with our employees aided in OUTFRONT recently being certified as a "Great Place to Work." A third-party endorsed and managed survey, from The Great Place to Work Institute, revealed that 81% of employees consider OUTFRONT a great place to work; this compares to 59% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company. More specifically, 82% provided a positive rating on the Trust Index, a key benchmark. One data point that we find particularly gratifying is the 86% score on "When I look at what we accomplish, I feel a sense of pride." Three quarters of our employees responded to the survey and OUTFRONT's scores on many of the significant categories are top rated.
We are very gratified to see such a positive response from our employees and plan to build and improve on this strong foundation. HR and marketing continue to drive purpose from within through the engagement, promotion and communication of our people. They will push us all to grow stronger.
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