When brainstorming content ideas for clients, our RSM blog or even my own musings, I often turn to ‘Awareness’ and fun holidays as inspiration. The various states of being, wellness, and passion are timely as calendar events, but they are also entirely evergreen. These are the nuances that define us, from invisible illnesses to caregiving and even mutual love for coffee, comics or cheese.
But you see, awareness is a double entendre when it comes to your team and your brand.
Awareness is an invaluable personal trait. This quality enables you to make decisions and react to situations with regard to how your actions impact others. It also allows you to respond to how others behave with understanding. These are all key factors in building a close and collaborative team.
When I was exploring topics for content in October, I realized it is a BIG month for awareness events that hit close to home. Firefighter/Fire Safety Awareness, Red Ribbon Awareness, Mental Health Awareness, International Stuttering Awareness, Liver Cancer Awareness, Pregnancy Loss, and Bullying Prevention Month — I was flooded with ideas. Too many ideas. My creative needle spun out and I hit a wall.
Similarly, as a company leader, it can be difficult to narrow down what awareness initiatives to support on social media or through your content marketing. You may even be scared to associate with certain issues your employees relate to as a brand.
It’s important to remember awareness is more significant than a ribbon or a social share. It’s already part of your culture because it is the grit your people are made of. It’s the battles they fight, the triumphs they celebrate, the underlying commonalities that bring them all together, and the compassion they show one another.
Here are a few tricks to bring awareness to the surface in a way that inspires your team and aligns with your core company values:
Focus on revealing the issue, not the person
Of course, always practice ‘People First’ — in your language and in your culture. But first, you need to identify what is important to your employees without singling anyone out.
Respect that many people prefer to keep their personal health and habits, family life or other associations private. When gathering information on what awareness initiatives matter to your team, collect anonymous responses.
Set up a quick and easy survey with monthly awareness dates and events and encourage everyone to highlight what they are most passionate about. Use this information to plan a monthly strategy to tie awareness to goals or inspire team volunteer opportunities.
Avoid assuming anyone is afflicted
Many people live with chronic health conditions. Some are visible, but many are not. Many more people care for family members with mental or physical limitations. You may even have team members who fought and beat cancer or substance abuse.
Don’t assume these people will appreciate sympathy or a celebration. Awareness is not a pity party.
The best way to show support for the various issues that matter to your team is to contribute to their cause by dismissing misconceptions. You can start in your office by gathering resources that inform your team about the realities of living with different diseases or circumstances.
Also, be sure your employees know your door is always open. Encourage them to give you honest feedback about how your awareness initiatives impact them and how you can improve awareness in your culture.
Don’t brand it, BE the change
Uncovering certain issues about employees, even if specific team member’s personal battles are not exposed, creates a heightened sense of vulnerability. If the manner in which you promote awareness for a condition comes across as ingenuine, you could quickly lose respect and engagement from your team.
It’s important to show that your brand represents and supports your people. Be sure that in the process of spreading awareness through your content and social media shares, you don’t come across as overly promotional.
Your marketing strategy should never take advantage of real-life issues to gain public approval or attention.
Once you’ve educated your team about the initiatives your company is interested in supporting, take that awareness to the streets (well, at least your blog, social media, and your website).
Post real stories your team members are willing to share, highlight workplace activities and activism that show your team unity, and create informational and motivational content your audience relates to.