COMMENT: PLATFORM; PR must cure workers’crisis of confidence

Corporate success should be based on an approach where employees are valued as much as profits, says David Morgan Rees

Corporate success should be based on an approach where employees are

valued as much as profits, says David Morgan Rees



When did you last meet somebody who loved their job and thought their

company was wonderful?



The world of work seems full of unhappy and dissatisfied people,

desperate to get early retirement, who are frustrated and angry, with

appalling tales of management short-sightedness, intrigue and

inconsistency. Opinion surveys regularly chart their fear and

insecurity.



Although I’ve now retired I’m still a private investor in British plcs.

So I’m all for efficient and successful companies because my standard of

living depends on quality management. But my own observations of what is

increasingly a battlefield instead of a creative enterprise environment

fill me with disquiet.



I’m worried by the way in which human talent, skill, experience and

loyalty are wasted or thrown away. I’m disgusted by the proliferating

symptoms of macho management masquerading as firm leadership and the

incredibly mean ways in which the growing ranks of part-time, low-paid

workers are exploited.



What relevance has all this to public relations practitioners?

Everything, because the profession, in its increasing preoccupation with

the external, with public affairs and corporate branding is losing sight

of a fundamental truth - that good, credible PR, like charity, begins at

home within an organisation.



Why do most annual reports devote so little space to how they look after

and improve their human resources? The glowing pages about community

relations and environmental responsibility are a sham if employees are

obliged to tell a different tale to relatives and friends. But if

employees feel proud and involved in their company’s success because

they are well-led, respected and well-informed, their consequent loyalty

is the most precious added-value around and the best guarantee of

corporate success - provided that top management knows where it’s going.



So what can PR practitioners, both in-house and as consultants, actually

do to help cure this crisis of confidence within enterprise? Much, much

more than at present. They must re-examine their basic values and

principles for a start. Why did they choose public relations as a

career? Are they just compliant messengers or are they people of

integrity who can change ideas and attitudes by standing up for what

they believe is right, honest and fair?



PR practitioners should continually learn about best world practice in

internal communications - how people at work are made to feel valued and

involved as contributors to corporate success. Armed with this knowledge

they must get bosses and colleagues to listen and adopt as appropriate.



And if and when people have to lose their jobs then, because it’s

critical both to corporate reputation and employee morale, PR people

must ensure that the reasons are honestly communicated (and the

customary euphemisms banned) and that the parting is done with fairness,

humanity and dignity. Embittered present and former employees can

undermine even the best external PR programme.



The ‘bottom line’ must always be satisfied and involve people not just

profit. Getting that truth across is perhaps the biggest challenge PR

people face today. God help us all if they don’t succeed!



David Morgan Rees, FIPR was formerly head of PR for a large UK

industrial group.



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