Father’s Day 2020: Why you need to get your internal comms right this year

As consumers, we’re going to be seeing a lot of content around how to celebrate Father’s Day in lockdown and you might be wondering how to mark the occasion with your teams at work, but there’s a bigger question to ask here: What if they don’t want to celebrate it at all? Or they do, but just in their own way?

This year has brought loss, grief, and untold pain to thousands of families. There are people who will be facing their first Father’s Day without their father around, including my husband. There will be fathers separated from their children or parents, and those too consumed by recent grief to think of celebrating anything at the moment. Tough doesn’t come close, and businesses have the responsibility to understand that.

While this needs to be communicated considerately, the majority will still actively take part in Father’s Day this year, whether a normal celebration is on the cards or not. Should they be shushed and asked not to make a fuss, or is there a respectful middle ground we can find that’s inclusive of everyone’s circumstances?

It’s also worth noting that some people who may find the event difficult will not disclose their preferences around being delivered Father’s Day messaging, even when asked considerately, so one of the best things anyone can be given during difficult times is kindness. If any year calls for this, 2020 is it. Perhaps shifting the focus of Father’s Day from dads and everything about them, you might want to see it as an opportunity to show kindness to your people, regardless of their circumstances.

The number of organisations that are recognising the need for empathy and thoughtfulness in their marketing is increasing. Flower delivery company, Bloom & Wild, pioneered this with their thoughtful marketing pledge. Recently they offered customers the chance to opt out of any Father’s Day communications, without being cut off from other messages. The email, sent by the company’s Customer Experience Manager, said:

“Father’s Day can be a really tough time of year for some people. So I wanted to remind you that if you don’t want us to mention it to you again, we won’t. Just let us know by clicking here. And we’ll keep you updated with everything else, like normal.”

Others that have followed a similar line include Chilly’s, Naked Wines and Papier. The opt-out was even mentioned in Parliament, as Mark Warman MP suggested “if other companies were to follow suit, the dread — and I do mean dread — around this day might be mitigated for many people.”

What can we learn from organisations who’re actively part of this thoughtful marketing movement? And how can we use it to help our people sensitively celebrate Father’s Day this year?

Here are a few ideas to generate empathy and quiet celebration this year:

  • Offer some downtime — an early finish on Friday or even half a day, all with the focus of spending quality time with our households with no pressure to check emails. Many of us know how hard the past few months have been to juggle remote working with children at home, so acknowledging this and rewarding employees with no-strings family time in work hours will be welcomed by many.
  • If sending out gifts is possible with your budget, consider gifting a photo frame with the prompt to recall a happy memory. This one should help you communicate the importance of positive reflection with any family member or person close to them.
  • Consider celebrating what being a dad means to your people’s children. Could you address them directly with a personalised letter or giftbag, telling them how great their dad is at his job?
  • End the week leading up to Father’s Day with an invitation to your people to join an optional Zoom call with their children the following Monday. Children will love feeling a part of their dad’s work day and talking about what they did with their dad for Father’s Day, and everyone will enjoy knowing their status as a parent is something to welcome at work.

It’s also important to remember that for some, this time of year could be particularly triggering for other reasons, including those with less fond memories surrounding Father’s Day. A blanket approach is unlikely to work for everyone and is important to consider when deciding the right approach for your business.

As the saying goes, it’s not what people do that we remember, it’s how they made us feel. This Father’s Day, every business should be remembering this and prioritising thoughtfulness, consideration and reflection in what has been a difficult year for all of us, but an unimaginable one for many.

Written by Ally Jones, CEO + Founder of Alison Jones Coaching.

Helping tech scale-ups create incredible (+ super high performing) places to work through Leadership and Management development + executive coaching.