One of the phenomena that has both fascinated and frightened me a bit over the last couple of weeks has been the tenacity of the Extinction Rebellion movement in the UK. While many people support moves against climate change and agree that the underlying cause is a noble one, the passion of the protesters has left many members of the general public feeling slightly uneasy.
Social media has been filled with images of people grounding planes, trains and city centres. Earlier this month, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, dismissed the activists as “uncooperative crusties” who should stop blocking the streets of the capital with their “heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs”.
Protesters seem to have travelled the length and breadth of the country to bring the capital to a standstill. The momentum that they have galvanized has been an interesting lesson in communications. From the distance of an observer, the need for people to belong to a tribe, to connect around a simple vision, common goal and achieve a noble purpose is palpable. Extinction Rebellion have also galvanised every available media to communicate, often using tactics that provide shock and outrage to generate cheap video publicity, as well as filling column inches of the written press and radio interviews aimed at every demographic.
From an Internal Communication perspective, there are some interesting parallels. People want to be part of an organisation that has a sense of purpose, and feel that they can personally take action that will change the trajectory.
While flexible and remote working is becoming a welcome benefit, people still crave that human connection, particularly in a global business.
Providing mechanisms where people can meet, talk, collaborate and share ideas is increasingly important – both in person and via digital tools. And gone are the days when the Corporate Communications team ‘control’ the messages – nowadays everyone with a smartphone is a journalist.
Personally, I’m not planning to join Extinction Rebellion any time soon – but I have learned some lessons from their campaign. Creating meaningful work that people believe in, will not only get people up in the morning but will encourage people to literally travel the extra mile (or miles) to achieve a goal. Fire up hearts and minds, create a simple vision that people buy-into and employees will share corporate messages with passion and determination – no need to spend money on expensive resource. ‘Tech and Touch’ are equally important – develop innovative ways for people to collaborate, live your values, and most importantly ‘belong’ to your corporate tribe.
Guest Post By Larraine Solomon
About Larraine Solomon
Larraine is the Global Vice President of Internal Communications, Employee Engagement and Change at Monster Worldwide. With over 20 years experience, Larraine has lead communications teams and business leaders worldwide to achieve their communication goals in business.