Communication Drives Employee Retention

Communication is critical in any employee retention strategy. Without effective communication you run the risk that people will not understand what is going on in the organization, the role they play in its success and how, in general the organization is run. These factors all negatively impact an organization’s employee retention.

Organizations often struggle with how much information to provide employees. I recommend erring on the side of giving employees too much information. Rarely is the information such that it can be used by competitors to create a competitive advantage…even if competitors do get a hand on it. In fact, I see it in the opposite way. Having informed, engaged employees creates a competitive advantage for your organization. Providing people both the good and the bad is essential. If you shelter them from bad information and they are surprised when action needs to be taken, the trust level between your employees and the organization will suffer. For that reason…provide them both the good and bad.

A well thought out, systematic communications strategy is the best way to effectively drive communication. Don’t do it in a haphazard way. Sit down, strategize and develop a well layered approach using multiple types of communication. By doing so, you make sure everyone hears the message multiple times and in different ways. Use the following list and you will cover 95% of what needs to be covered without having some big fancy system that looks great but wastes time and probably doesn’t get through to employees anyway.

  • Managers and leaders at all levels need to get out in the cube factory or on the plant floor and start communicating with people daily…you will hear concerns and be able to address them. More often than not, people will bring up concerns when you wander by their work area. At times, they will often tell you even more than you want to hear. As people get to know you, you will build trust that further drives communication.
  • Have an open door policy so people come in and ask questions. People will carry the responses back out to their co-workers and spread the word.
  • Develop regular postings and updates using email, company intranet or written notices…yes…written notices still exist! Some employees will not pick up on communication in an email but will absorb it in a meeting or in a written letter. Every person has their preferred style of communication. Using multiple methods of communication ensures that people will get the message.
  • Hold meetings that provide a consistent message, a forum for ideas and a place to bring up concerns about the functioning of their department and the organization as a whole.

I actually love meetings…if they are done right! Everyone thinks that when I mention meetings that I am talking about some long drawn out event. Only if you let them be long and drawn out events! They can range from five minutes to an hour depending on what you want to accomplish. Frankly…90% of the meetings that last an hour or more are just people rambling on in my experience. Keep them short, sweet and to the point. The goal of every meeting should be educating people and generating actions that drive results! Information and education will eliminate fear…and drive understanding of what it takes the business to succeed. All too often employees do not understand the dynamics of the business. Your meetings should be designed to gradually educate people on how their job affects the results of the organization. This will reduce turnover and improve how the business operates as well. Employee retention activities don’t exist in a vacuum…they help drive organizational success!

When you get information out and educate your people you will virtually shut down the negative influence of the internal grapevine. By doing so, you eliminate speculation, uncertainty, and self-serving communication. When you do that…you have just significantly reduced several major sources of fear that drives employee turnover. The beautiful thing about this approach…..even if you are only a supervisor or manager…you can do most of these things in your “sphere of influence.” So, even if the organization chooses not to do some of these things you can still make an impact on employee retention by communicating effectively with your people.

If you want to have great employee retention, an organization must have an effective communication process. This requires work and a systematic approach. If organizations are not afraid to put in the work and approach communication systematically, they will see a positive impact on their employee retention.

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