Our latest Connected Crisis study tells a clear picture of companies grappling with a non-stop barrage of issues from every angle, and of executives feeling the pressure. Growing expectations for hyper-transparency, and pressure for immediate action, further complicate today’s crisis management landscape. Crisis management has become the fastest-growing area of responsibility for CCOs and CMOs.

Against this backdrop, executives are worried about a wide range of business-shifting problems, and they recognize that these issues can have a significant impact on not just their reputations, but their business operations, too. Our 2022 Edelman Connected Crisis study shows companies continue to underestimate the expectation to engage on societal issues, and unpacks how Gen Z is challenging the role of businesses in times of crisis.

Companies continue to underestimate the expectation to engage on societal issues.

 

Increasing consumer expectations require companies to grapple with how to navigate diverse issues.

  • Over half of the general population expect brands they buy from to communicate on current societal issues.
  • There is a clear gap between expectations of stakeholders and businesses to respond to external events.
  • The pressure to engage on societal issues extends beyond company borders – organizationally and geographically.
Connected Crisis

In this complex landscape, companies must ensure they implement the right decision-making infrastructure:

  • Frameworks to facilitate consistency and prioritize the right decision factors;
  • Governance to streamline processes and minimize internal churn;
  • Data to augment experience and instinct in decision making.

"Expectations of companies to play a broader role in society aren’t going away. Engagement on these issues is a prerequisite for your customers and your workforce… not just of tomorrow, but of today. Companies don’t need to take a stand on every issue. Our job is to carefully assess these issues in each company’s unique context, to determine where to engage."

Dave Fleet, Global Head of Digital Crisis

Connected Crisis

Gen Z is changing the crisis game.

 

Companies are struggling with how to manage the new dynamics that this generation is introducing into crisis management.

Gen Z is challenging companies to maintain higher standards, demanding more from them around societal issues and outflanking them through new approaches to activism.

Gen Z acts with belief and responds with its wallet. Businesses who remain silent on important issues are penalized, and businesses who take the right stand are rewarded.

Labour issues present the next wave of challenges for businesses.

 

Alongside major macro issues like economic instability and the energy crisis, labour issues present the next wave of potential crises for businesses. Companies must commit to the critical work of creating a trusted, fair workplace for employees; those that don’t should steel themselves for a rise in workforce-related issues in the years ahead.

Connected Crisis

 

Companies must evolve how they protect Trust in times of crisis.

 

In times of crisis, people first and foremost expect businesses to demonstrate integrity and dependability. CMOs and CCOs, particularly, need to align their response in response to stakeholder expectations - first and foremost addressing their views and concerns through honest dialogue and willingness to act on commitments. Only 1 in 4 executives are consistently prepared to meet stakeholders starting with their point of view, and not the company position.

What does this mean for businesses?

 

  1. Reflect the expanded responsibilities and prioritization of crisis management with appropriate resources across staffing, planning, and training.
  2. Start now and begin the critical task of building a trusted, fair-process workplace.
  3. Strengthen your infrastructure around societal issues.
  4. Make sure you understand your stakeholders and audiences, and align the crisis function to this changing, Gen Z-influenced landscape by evolving your organization’s crisis insights, preparation, planning and execution capabilities.
  5. Place integrity and dependability at the core of your crisis response activities, and ensure they are reflected in actions as well as words. Be honest and be prepared to follow up on commitments you set.

 

Previous Connected Crisis Studies

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