Recently, when working as an employee retention speaker, one of my audience members mentioned that the CEO at their company gathered everyone in the company together and said to them, “Your jobs are secure…for now.” Then he proceeded to rip into them for the fact that the organization was struggling and that THEY needed to do everything they could to contain cost and increase productivity. There was no mention of what he was going to do to help change the direction of the company to get it back on course.

Needless to say, a panic ensued. The grapevine kicked in and people envisioned the organization in bankruptcy by the end of the week. Instead of rallying the troops, he prompted a full-scale retreat. Even the HR person who knew it was not this dire was in borderline panic despite the fact that she knew that wasn’t the message he wanted to send. What was this guy thinking?

All too often we see this sort of communication from senior leadership in organizations that sends panic through the workforce. What is needed is calm feedback that conveys both optimism and yet instills a sense of urgency in the workforce. It may not be business as usual, but the doors are not about to be closed and padlocked.

What people want to know is 1) What is the problem 2) How is senior leadership going to lead them out of it 3) What can they do to help. People don’t like changing jobs. People like to see their organization be successful. If you want to drive employee retention strategies in your organization, you need to harness that mindset and instill a sense that the organization may have some rough times ahead, but there is a commitment by senior leadership to get things on track and how by pulling together with the leadership team things will get better. Telling people, “Your jobs are secure for now” does not instill calm in the workforce and will set off mass turnover in the organization.