ICYMI: Icarus Fell and Life Went On

What a week…

In case you missed it…

1. Icarus Fell and Life Went On

This week (year) is momentous for many reasons. The U.S. presidential election, the most significant and most hotly contested in decades, is nurturing our collective anxiety. Our attention is consumed, but not completely…

The world tends to keep spinning despite real and perceived cataclysms. Yes, all eyes remain on the election’s outcome, but today…

  • We went to work
  • We ran errands
  • We made breakfast and we took out the garbage and we paid a bill and we talked to our friends and we made sure our kids did their homework

In other words, life goes on.

I’m reminded of Bruegel’s masterpiece “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus.” In the painting, a dramatic event in Western civilization — Icarus’s plummet to the sea — goes unnoticed by normal people trying to live their normal lives. The artwork is immortalized in W.H. Auden’s poem “Musée des Beaux Arts,” which opens with:

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

A farmer, a shepherd, and a fisherman go on about their business without heed to a supposed calamity, because they have to. And so do we.

We go on because we have to.

2. The State of Internal Communications 2021 (Simpplr)

Simpplr’s The State of Internal Communications 2021 is out and describes how employee communications have been affected by multiple crises this year.

Some interesting takeaways:

  • There’s nothing like an emergency to showcase the critical role internal comms plays in keeping your organization humming. The COVID-19 pandemic increased IC’s visibility and strategic relevance.
  • So it’s no surprise that a majority of respondents find the current state of their internal communications is better than it was this time last year.
  • Consequently, respondents are seeing increased funding for communications technology. The chart above indicates where spending may go over the next two years.
  • When the pandemic hit, 43% of IC functions were communicating with employees daily. That number has dropped to 10%. Now 64% of IC teams send comms once per week or less frequently.
  • While most companies are doing more to communicate a point of view on racial injustice, demonstrable changes are lagging. I’ve talked about this previously; see Systemic Racism: The Existential Challenge for Business.
  • Most organizations are struggling to connect employees across departmental lines and establish deep collaboration.

Download the report.

3. Long Live Email

71% of small and mid-size businesses prefer communicating with employees by email, according to a survey by TriNet. The channels, ranked by usage, are:

  • Email — 71%
  • Video conference — 47%
  • SMS — 46%
  • Team chat apps — 35%
  • Chat forum — 10%
  • Other — 8%

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4. GameStop Won’t Stop & Other Industry News

Q. What’s the worst incentive you can give employees for hard work?

A. More work.

And yet GameStop did just that. A short-sighted TikTok dance contest for employees promises several prizes, including … more hours on the job … during a holiday week! The internet had a field day with this one.

Ethan Gach at Kotaku has this insight:

Even if a manager wanted to give out extra shifts around an especially busy time, like say, Black Friday, they wouldn’t be able to exceed whatever their monthly budget was. As anyone who’s ever worked retail knows, work that can’t get done during the allotted number of hours still needs to get done, it just goes unpaid. It’s also wage theft and different forms of it total an estimated $15 billion annually in money that’s taken from workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Whatever happened to doling out iPads and Bose headphones as prizes?

  • Better yet, how about giving cash and paid time off?

In other internal comms news:

  • OpenReel, a remote video creation tool for distributed teams, is expanding to 126 countries (press release).
  • Powtoon, a visual comms platform, announced a centralized platform that allows companies to create, manage, distribute, and track unlimited pieces of visual content (press release).
  • Textio, a tool that helps recruiters write unbiased job descriptions, has launched Textio for Employer Brand, which is designed to identify exclusive or offensive language in a company’s employer branding content (Toolbox).
  • Tara McElmurry (@taramack), internal comms lead at the energy firm NIPSCO, is interviewed about how she brings creativity to her IC role (nwi.com).

5. Is Mixed Reality the Next Revolution in Internal Comms?

The Weather Channel is taking video to another level with augmented reality programming. By combining “dynamic range imagery” with “immersed mix reality technology” TV hosts can take you anywhere around the country.

  • “These hyper-realistic simulations are crafted to allow the experts at The Weather Channel to show you what the weather will actually look and feel like before it happens.”

💭 Make this a 2021 budget request for your town halls? You know eventually this future will catch up to you, so might as well get on it now 😉.

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