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About the Host:
HOST: DOUG SIMON
GUEST: Jonathan Jordan (JJ)
DOUG: With its trust barometer. Edelman is really set the standard of research into trust. And now you’ve got new research out that talks about building trust among employees. JJ, can you share some of the top line results?
JJ: Yeah, happy to. And first of all, thanks for having me on, man. So, you know, if I take a step back and I think about the trust barometer, we’ve been studying this topic of trust for over 20 years. I think we’re in our 21st year and we have this annual trust barometer that comes out. I’ll tell you, with the year that we had last year, between Black Lives Matter, between Covid, between the election. I want to say we’ve had probably five or six special edition versions of that, and we’ve continued to look at this more regularly. Our most recent study was focused on employees. And if I just sort of take a look at what we’ve seen over the years, you know, back in the 80s and some in some of the 90s, shareholder value was the most important thing. And as a stakeholder, it was all about that that that investor. I feel like the pendulum has swung back where today, really the employee is the number one stakeholder. And so we just released this interesting study focused on employees as a stakeholder. And there’s a lot of takeaways. And I would encourage everyone if they have a chance to go check it out. We just released it this this week. There’s a few things that were eye opening. One is that there’s this continued distrust. There’s also a heightened what I would call a heightened expectation from their employer. And so if we look across all the different entities.
DOUG: Just to clarify, is that heightened expectation of the employee about their employer or heightened expectation?
JJ: That’s right, folks. Specifically your employee population, as they look to their employer, they’re expecting a lot more. And the takeaway is, when those expectations are not met, we’re seeing employee activism like we’ve never seen before. I don’t have to name some of the walkouts that we’re familiar with, but some of those expectations are really around organizations standing up and doing and saying something in moments that matter. Societal issues have become extremely important. And so we have a lot of data in there. There’s a few slides that just made my jaw drop. That was one that really talked about the differential and trust that’s earned versus trust that’s lost when an organization stands up and just says something about what’s happening in the world. And so some of those expectations are totally understandable based on where the world is today.
DOUG: And it’s interesting you say that, JJ. I used to have a saying somewhat humorously, but true. But six months of goodwill by a manager just goes out the window with one F up, you know, so if you really mess up, it’s like you can do all this and like, oh, that was dumb, but you’ve just like wasted that equation. Like it’s that huge an equation differential. It sounds like you’re supporting that information. So how can companies, in effect, live up to that? And is it issues? What else is it? I mean, return to work is a huge issue among discussion for different companies.
JJ: Yeah, but burnouts a big one, right. I’m sure you’ve heard it loud and clear from the folks within your organization and the you know, the mental exhaustion of physical exhaustion, the emotional exhaustion from all of us, and having to deal with this new normal in this next normal. We’re finding that burnout is a big issue. And so the good and smart organizations have become a town square where, you know, your chief executive officer, we released some IP, the chief executive officer essentially becomes the chief empathy officer. And in those cases where organizations are doing things to proactively manage burnout, you’re seeing massive gains in trust and organizations that kind of ignore this or just expect productivity like normal. They’re seeing massive attrition issues.
DOUG: So interestingly, since obviously Edelman doesn’t just get the data, you advise clients on how to execute and then how to communicate that which is so important. We love the viewers of this show to be able to come away and say, oh, we need to start doing that. What are some tools to maybe mitigate or approaches to mitigate some of this exhaustion and challenges that so many people in the workforce face, whether they’re in PR or anywhere really?
JJ: Yeah. I mean, wellness is not just a physical thing. It’s a mental thing. And so there’s some alarming stats that have been done around the toll that it’s taken mentally on employees and as we’re advising our clients. One is just acknowledging that it’s really tough. And we’ve also advised a lot of our leaders to listen versus tell. So, like, you know, we’re quick to jump in to try to solve what we think makes the most sense. But most of the time, your employees want to be engaged in a conversation about what would be helpful to them. You know, there’s a lot of tech clients that that we have that are doing some really cool, innovative stuff. Some companies are literally just saying, everyone take a week off, you know, just do what you have to do to kind of get back. I really like what Google just released and they released a manifesto essentially saying it’s OK to turn your camera off. It’s OK, you know, to take a walk in the middle of the day. You know, they have this whole list. But sometimes just acknowledging it’s OK. And we know it’s a tough time. It’s amazing how far that will go.
DOUG: Yeah, it’s interesting because the work from home piece for those fortunate enough early in the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal for 38 percent of workers could potentially be working from home. But that sort of getting rid of the commute and having more of that flexibility and lunches walking over to your kitchen. You know, for a lot of workers, that’s really helpful, because one they’re getting this extra time in their day and they’re in a comfortable environment, that was so important. Now, you’re also general manager of the Edelman L.A. office. So what are some of the issues, challenges and opportunities you’re seeing? And, you know, such an important and high profile role?
JJ: Yeah. First of all, it’s the best job I ever had. I’m so lucky to serve all of those in the Los Angeles office. And I’m really bullish on our team there. And I think some of the challenges are both within the market. I could talk about, but I would even take a step back and just think about the agency landscape. A part of my own personal passion has been, you know, how do we reflect the consumers of many of the clients that we serve. You know, I think back to some of the clients we’ve had where they’ve said, hey, we want to make sure that our core demo or the consumer makeup that we talk to on a regular basis, I want to make sure our agencies match that. And so a part of my own personal passion has been how do we diversify? How do we become much better around representation within the agency landscape, not just on the PR side, but on the ad agency side? I know this is a top conversation for a lot of folks, but we’ve got to do better. There are some key challenges that have been talked about, but I think I’m happy that in this role I can take action. I also see many of our colleagues at Edelman taking concrete action. That’s really exciting.
DOUG: Do you think part of your success if I’m correct, you didn’t take what would be a traditional role to your PR role? You have a different background, if you may talk about that and how that’s informed you and maybe can help others as we wrap up the conversation.
JJ: Sure. Yeah, I’m not a traditional if you look at my background you’d say, like, why is this guy at Edelman or how did he get there? I would say I’m right and left brain. So I spent about half of my career in management consulting. So I worked for E Y Booz Allen and shops like that, which helped me understand back office functionality. I have an MBA, so I tend to think from a business strategy perspective, which has helped. When I’m talking to folks about the business, I sort of understand the back office part of it. And then I spent time in creative. I worked at a record label for a while. I ran my own creative shop for a while. I think that’s two things I would take away, is the background that I have on paper probably wouldn’t. You know, I’m lucky enough to have some contacts that were at Edelman and loved it, and they recruited me over. But on paper, I’m sure they would have passed on me. But I guess the second thing is there’s benefit to having the art and science, you know, so I could talk frameworks and methodologies all day. But then also, you know, in order to change mindsets and behaviors, no matter what the stakeholder is, you have to have a mostly compelling art and to push the needle. So, you know, I tend to think that my background is actually perfectly suited for where I’m at. And it also, I think, makes me look at resumes differently. And I hope that everyone in our industry can look at it as a resume and not hold, you know, a background that might look different on paper, hold that against them.
DOUG: And that also brings like a whole other piece of diversity, is getting people with different backgrounds, experiences to come in and shed light on that. So, JJ, really awesome. Thanks so much for your time. Really great input, advice and continued success.
JJ: Awesome. Thanks again for having me.