May 27

Bang! Zoom! You’re Gone!

It’s been refreshing and, in many ways, enlightening, to see how transparent and empathetic most organizations have been when it comes to imparting bad news during the pandemic. 

That said, there are always exceptions to the rule and here is one of the most egregious of late:

WW (aka the business formerly known as Weight Watchers) chose a regularly scheduled Zoom meeting to downsize scores of employees real-time and right in front of each other. If a shock like that doesn’t cause one to go on a starvation diet, I’m not sure what will.

FYI, the original Weight Watchers was always notorious for being a shark-infested culture that doubled as a churn-and-burn serial client. I distinctly recall reading an Advertising Age article a decade or so back warning agencies to steer clear of all WW RFPs.

The name change to WW and Oprah Winfrey’s involvement clearly haven’t changed the soulless personality of an organization that clearly puts profits ahead of people (and chooses to ignore the profound mental, emotional and psychological trauma the Zoom firings must have caused).

So while many organizations are handling the new normal (and the unfortunate financial fallouts) beautifully, there will always be exceptions to the norm.

All of which beggars the question: How would you feel being terminated on Zoom right in front of your peers? Strikes me as the kind of torture that might have worked quite well back in the good, old waterboarding days of Gitmo.


May 07

Why doesn’t our country have a Minister of Loneliness?

Wikipedia defines the word loneliness as, “ unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation. Loneliness is also described as “….social pain — a psychological mechanism which motivates individuals to seek social connections. It is often associated with an unwanted lack of connection and intimacy.” 

As our country continues to suffer through this godawful pandemic, loneliness has become a very real concern for businesses everywhere. It’s threatening productivity and has risen to the very top of the C-Suite’s list in terms of caring for the safety and wellbeing of employees. Back in early March, physical health and wellbeing were paramount. Now as our Groundhog Day-like existence continues with no real end in sight, we’re seeing a rash of suicides being reported every night on the evening news.

Mental and emotional health experts alike have stepped up, penned articles, made themselves available for counseling, pushed updated regulations and reimbursement for online sessions, and done everything in their power to provide assistance.

So, how is the Trump Administration helping?

They need look no further than across the pond to see how the United Kingdom is dealing with loneliness during the pandemic.

The Brits have created an amazing array of public and private sector organizations in tandem with the government to address the issue. The result is the Connected Coalition.

The U.K. even has a Minister of Loneliness (a position that was created a few years ago as it became painfully obvious that our 24X7, always-on, social-media driven world was creating huge and unexpected emotional side effects).

All of which begs the question: Why don’t we have a Minister of Loneliness?

If the Trump Administration is, in fact, concerned about the health and wellbeing of all Americans, one would think that would include the huge and growing problem of loneliness. Alas, it’s unclear whether this Administration is unaware of the profound mental distress permeating the country or simply choosing to ignore it.

It comes as no surprise that, in a just released PRovoke Covid-19 PR Industry Survey, the U.S. government received the LOWEST marks by survey respondents for “handling the COVID-19 crisis.”

These findings dovetail with the recently released IPR/Peppercomm survey of 403 senior communications executives who listed “government leaders” such as presidents and prime ministers as the second least trusted source of information. Only social media was less trusted.

It’s a disgrace that, with all of the money being dispersed and all of the divisive political one upsmanship we’re witnessing, someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hasn’t stepped up and suggested the creation of a cabinet-level position to deal with this rapidly growing problem.

Considering how he succeeded in bringing a lasting peace to the Middle East, Jared Kushner would be my candidate for the position. Once he’s done perfecting all the drive-through testing and PPE sourcing, of course. Plus, the guy always looks lonely.

Instead, this Administration will stand by while this overwhelming miasma drags millions of Americans into an abyss from which some may never escape.

Maybe our Administration should create a Minister of Indifference instead.

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