woman's hands holding iphone with TikTok on screen

Quit-Tok trending – a timely reminder of the key reputation role of internal comms

Scenario planning is a crucial part of crisis preparedness for any business and the complexity and range of potential scenarios is constantly expanding.

One scenario that sends shivers down the spine of any organisation is the handling of internal communications finding its way into the public domain, particularly through social media. So, judging by one of the latest viral trends, you can expect that HR departments around the world are growing increasingly nervous.

If you are a user of short-form video platform TikTok you may well have seen the recent surge in “Quit-Tok.” If you haven’t – and you prize the reputation of your business – you need to know about it. To put it simply (mainly for non-Gen Z readers like myself), Quit-Tok is when employees resign or are made redundant and video record their conversation with HR and management before posting it on their TikTok or other social channels.

Gaining millions of views online, the goal is to showcase a growing desire for greater transparency about employee conditions in the workplace. It also opens up the conversation around the importance of sensitively handling internal communications, and how one misstep can be fatal.

The reputational consequences of these viral videos can be hugely damaging for the businesses involved – depending on the context. However, this shift towards heightened transparency also presents an opportunity for employers to reassess their approach to internal communication and employee relations.

So, what should be the non-negotiables for handling sensitive internal communications?

  • Give employees a safe space: Allow employees to have clear and accessible channels to seek support or raise concerns. Employees should be allowed to voice their opinions in a safe space without fearing retribution. Being transparent builds trust and reduces the risk of crisis scenarios.
  • Train leaders to be effective communicators: Equip managers and leaders with the necessary skills to handle sensitive communications effectively. Provide training on active listening, conflict resolution, and empathy to ensure that managers can address employee concerns with sensitivity and professionalism.
  • Be empathetic, be human: Your employees don’t want corporate guff. They want to know they are talking to a human. Whether it’s delivering performance reviews, announcing redundancies, or addressing workplace issues, do it with empathy and integrity in all communications.
  • Don’t be stubborn: Don’t take any negative (either public or internal) feedback from an employee as personal. Use it to learn and adapt. Think about the underlying reasons behind their unhappiness and take proactive steps to make the necessary changes. By continuously learning and evolving, businesses help to build a culture of trust.

 

All companies have to sometimes make difficult decisions regarding employees – it’s part and parcel of the business world. In most crises, the sometimes irreparable reputational damage doesn’t necessarily come from the incident itself but rather the mishandling of the response. In recent years we have seen this in controversies such as P&O Ferries’ mass redundancy process and Better.com’s CEO terminating the roles of 900 employees over Zoom.

Getting internal communications right or wrong has always had an impact on an organisation’s reputation but this is magnified in a social media age.  It’s simple, yet crucial to ensure the right processes are in place to navigate sensitive internal communications effectively and mitigate the risk of escalation into crises. Hudson Sandler has great experience in helping businesses ensure they have the right approach and processes. Employees are a company’s biggest asset and it’s important to build an internal culture of trust to avoid a ticking timebomb “Quit-Tok” threat.

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