crisis communications a casebook approach Posts

What You Said: Employee Activism Survey Results

By Matthew Mitschang

Most companies do not have a plan in place for employee activism, most believe they are at moderate risk of a negative employee activist event, and most believe they do a good job communicating their company values to employees. Those were among the results from a recent self-selected online survey of human resources and employee communication professionals.

The survey was conducted by Paul Barton Communications to learn more about the rapidly growing trend of employee activism and HR and communication professionals representing 44 companies participated.

Many of the questions aimed to figure out if the companies these employees worked for communicated the values of their company effectively and if they released a corporate responsibility report highlighting the good works they do in the community. More than 40 survey respondents (or 91 percent) said their company did effectively communicate its values to their employees and 24 participants (or 55 percent) said their company did release a report. This shows that many companies are already broadly communicating their company values.

While survey participants believe company values are being communicated well, many companies may be unprepared for employee activism that results in employee protests or walk-outs. Twenty-five respondents (or 57 percent) said they do not have an employee activism response plan and another 12 (or 27 percent) weren’t sure. Only seven (or 15 percent) reported that they had a plan in place.

The breakdown of the nine-question survey is below. The findings of the survey are being used to help inform a major article Paul Barton Communications is developing on employee activism. Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!

Issues including gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, immigration, anti-capitalism, universal healthcare, and automation of jobs, ensure that employee activism is here to stay. And, in the run-up to the presidential election in the U.S., those issues will be top of mind for many throughout the coming year.

We welcome your thoughts on this important issue. Please post your thoughts in the comment box below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Matthew Mitschang is studying Marketing Communications at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and he helped with this survey and wrote this article as an intern for Paul Barton Communications.

Communicating with Employees During a Crisis

crisis communication employees

Communicating with employees during a crisis is crucial to recovery. I was honored to be quoted along with thought leader Shel Holtz in this comprehensive article on the subject by Valene Jouany at

In the Heat of a Crisis, Don’t Forget This Crucial Audience — Your Own Employees

Some organizations are so focused on getting statements out to traditional news media and other external audiences that they forget about what is arguably their most important audience — their own employees.

Overlooking your own employees can waste time and cost you money because it is quite often employees who determine how fast and how fully your organization will recover from a crisis.

Reduce Rumors

We know that rumors are the result of communication voids. If we don’t know what’s going on, we tend to come up with our own narratives. Communicating with your employees early and often can reduce rumors. Your best course: Establish your company as the go-to source for information early on or employees will find another source.

Want more reasons? Communicating with your employees in times of crisis can prevent an even bigger crisis from happening. After all, you don’t want to have a communication crisis on top of the operational crisis you’re already dealing with.

In many organizations, employees are the face of the brand to customers. The last thing you want is for your employees to say to your customers, “Heck, we don’t know what’s going on around here. No one tells us anything.”

Employees Can be Your Greatest Advocate

Employees can be great and credible advocates for your organization – but only if they have the right information.

Well-prepared organizations have templates and key messages developed for ALL of their key audiences, internal and external. They think through policies and procedures when things are calm so that they can respond quickly and effectively when they need to. They establish social media policies for their employees and have them vetted by corporate attorneys when things are calm. They build relationships and trust between the organization leaders and their employees.

When a crisis strikes, these organizations can respond quickly and effectively.

Consistent Messages are Key

Another key to effective crisis communication is consistency. Be sure you’re not telling employees one thing and telling external audiences another. Employees read and listen to external messages. And external audiences can easily become aware of internal messages. Message inconsistency between audiences can cause sink credibility for your organization.

In the Digital Age, when every employee has a smartphone and thus the ability to broadcast live video to the entire world, messages can get out quickly.

Planning Process

It’s been said that a plan is nothing but the planning process is everything. That’s certainly true with a crisis communication plan. A good crisis communication plan should have a robust employee communication component. If you are responsible for internal communications, then you are responsible for thinking through the process before a crisis strikes and bringing forth an action plan if you see areas that are lacking.

By doing so now, you can help take the crisis out of crisis communications and unleash one of your most powerful assets — your employees.

Related Posts

The No. 1 Crisis Communication Mistake

Top 10 Crisis Communication Mistakes to Avoid

Podcast: Taking the Crisis Out of Crisis Communication

Webinar Replay: Internal Communication in Times of Crisis

The Crisis Communication Toolkit