In a generation when companies are making their employees take their “whole self” to work, it is no longer an option to ignore major news events as well as the emotional impact they can bring to the employees.
However, acting in response to these moments puts employers in a difficult position. They should understand the fact that not all employees will have the same opinion about or reaction to things like a controversial government policy or a school shooting. Now, how do you acknowledge the pain of your employees without alienating or offending anyone?
Ohana Circles of Salesforce
Back in June, there was a roundtable at Fortune’s CEO Initiative assembly in San Francisco. Leaders talked about the steps they are taking to respond to this important and puzzling question.
Salesforce is trying out something that the company calls “Ohana circles,” according to Tony Prophet, chief equality officer at Salesforce. The idea is to ask employees to get together after traumatic events to talk about and deal with the news together. Prophet notes that these meetings have an ironclad rule: no debates. So far, Salesforce has assembled a few circles, including the events around the immigration policy of the United States that separate families at the border as well as the event following the demonstrations of neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, VA.
In some instances, a news event can have a massive effect on one specific group of employees. Paradigm (a diversity and inclusion strategy company) founder and CEO Joelle Emerson mentioned the debate surrounding the “bathroom bill” of North Carolina and the trauma it put on the transgender employees of their company. She asked how they are going to focus on their work when there is a discussion on social media about whether you are allowed to exist or not.
Some attendees of the roundtable said that they have looked for ways to reach out to people who may be stressed out by a current event.