Each week we bring you a selection of the latest issues arising from COVID-19 and how brands can make a difference.      

THIS WEEK’S EMERGING ISSUES

Return to work speculation grows as pandemic exposes social divide
Stories speculating over the return to work, school and “normal life” offer little consensus, while efforts to restart economic activity appear to be further dividing groups along socioeconomic lines.  

  • In the absence of clear guidance from government and public health officials, individual companies and industries may need to chart their own return-to-work journeys.    
  • Employees are pushing back against return-to-work orders, as many in the U.S. were told if they do not return to work, they will lose their unemployment benefits
  • Groups whose work conditions allow them to control their exposure to the outbreak have an advantage over those – often frontline and blue-collar workers – forced to choose between their health and financial devastation.   

How will the return to work impact your organization, employees and customers, and what are you doing to protect the safety of your employees working on-site? 

Resource: Preparing For Workforce Re-introduction in the Era of COVID-19, available here.

All brands are now healthcare brands. And there’s hope that today’s workplace safety issues will bring lasting change.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a fracture in the workplace safety plans of organizations across North America and around the globe.  

  • Are we witnessing a turning point in the labour movement similar to those in history that spurred reforms in meatpacking plants, garment factories and coal mines?    

How can you help ensure the safety challenges currently faced by workers lead to lasting changes that will transform industries for the better? 

Renewed threat to local news
The desire for local information during the pandemic has boosted traffic and subscriptions at many local news outlets.  

  • However, the closing of many local retail businesses that have long been their biggest advertisers has sent ad revenues into free fall.  
  • Advocates say the importance of local newspapers has grown amid the pandemic, but at the same time these institutions are experiencing a critical threat to their existence.    
  • Local media keeps the cost of doing business down as communities comeback from the virus.

What can you do to support local journalism? 

A crisis in education planning for high school students
The pandemic has prompted a trend among high school seniors to change their plans for university and college. 

  • Many are now considering a gap year, a later transfer date or a college closer to home.  
  • Others are reluctant to start, or pay for, college while distance learning measures mean traditions like sporting events and campus life will be unavailable.    

What can your organization do to help make a student’s gap year more meaningful and valuable? 

ONGOING ISSUES

Previously, we identified the issues that continue to demand attention and resources, including: 

  • Ensuring the health and safety of frontline and essential workers by providing access to still-scarce personal protective equipment (PPE).   
  • Toll of isolation on mental health, particularly among vulnerable populations such as seniors, as experts warn of the mental health crisis quietly sweeping the nation alongside COVID-19.    
  • Food supply chain disruptions as processing plants close due to worker illness and agricultural producers are left with vast quantities of food they cannot sell.    
  • Inequalities in COVID-19 infection and mortality rates among specific populations, and the underlying social and health issues that have contributed to the disproportionate impact.    
  • Economic impact on small businesses, particularly those unable to secure stimulus support through government programs, many of whom now face going out of business.   
  • Challenges of e-learning and threat of academic regression for children, and the calls for “appropriate technologies” based on availability of resources to certain communities (text vs. video, for example).   
  • The broader economic fallout of COVID-19 is a story set to get even bigger as time passes and more data is released on job losses and other economic measures.   
  • The dangers of misinformation regarding the virus and the importance of making sure the public has accurate information to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.  
  • Pandemic positives – including reduced pollution and emissions, essential workers getting the attention they deserve – prompt the question: how to maintain the good momentum? 
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