We live in a world enduring military conflicts, from the war in Ukraine to new attacks in the Middle East. Whether or not you have employees in either area, it is important to consider reactions to the Israel-Gaza conflict by your employees, partners and customers.
Integral tracks a variety of issues important to employees through its annual Integral Index. The Index is a study of employed Americans, conducted with The Harris Poll, to understand employee experience, mindset and behaviors. Our study presented 25+ societal and political topics for employed North Americans to consider. Which did they value? Which issues so they want their employer to take action on? Our updated survey was underway before this month’s conflict, but after the start of the war in Ukraine.
What employees are saying
As of May 2023, 5% of respondents indicated that Military Conflicts/War was the top concern they wanted their organization to make a positive difference on, and only 1% indicated that Israel/Palestine was their top concern (relatively unchanged from our 2022 report). For comparison, the top issue employees want their employer to make a positive difference around is employees’ good health and wellbeing (42%).
While our survey does not indicate a strong interest toward these issues, that doesn’t mean employees are not thinking of them, particularly if they live closer than the North Americans participating in the study. The workplace is obviously part of society. Like it or not, employees use their phones to check news, personal email and social media throughout their day. The average person checks their phone 58 times a day, half of which happen during the workday.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that every new crisis is the time for an employer to weigh in with a public statement. Clearly, no company would rationally believe that military conflict is the preferred method to settle a dispute. Does that mean you need to be a voice for peace?
It depends. Each organization has to make its own choice. Do you have employees in affected areas? Or do you have a market presence there?
What you can do regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict
The Israel-Gaza conflict impacts your employees differently. If appropriate, let them know you checked on colleagues living in the area and they are safe. Likewise, confirm employees traveling to the area have are safe and know how to access resources.
Consider a donation to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or another aid organization. Provide a list of trusted sources for employees to also make a contribution and information about your company’s matching program if you have one.
Consider previous statements you have made. Did you comment at the beginning of the Ukraine-Russia conflict? Or other global tensions, such as export restrictions with China? Do your previous actions to comment, or decisions not to comment, indicate a pattern that needs to be followed?
Your employees will be following the news. Update them with a sense of urgency when the situation impacts your organization.
The loss of life, holding hostages captive and the destruction of neighborhoods are all tragic. It may take time for peace to resume. Consequently, business leaders have to carefully make decisions considering the effects each global conflict will have on every organization’s most valuable public…their employees.