As an employee retention speaker and employee retention trainer, I advocate to my clients the importance of good communication with their people. Communication has to be at the heart of any employee retention strategies. Then again, saying it and doing it are two totally separate issues. There are three things that are important to that strategy in an organization. Communication must be open, ongoing and consistent. If you do those three things, your people will love you and your communication will help improve your employee retention and not create employee turnover.
You need to be open with your communication. Tell people the truth and do it in a candid way. Too many leaders and organizations fall into the trap of “corporate speak” and parsing what they say. People hate it. It kills any trust and respect your people have for you. All too often we feel we have to be secretive for fear that corporate secrets may get out so we don’t communicate. I say, err on the side of openness. Say it so people can actually understand what you are trying to say and don’t have to decode what you are trying it get across. Confusion drives fear and fear is a major driver of employee turnover. When people are afraid, they look to go to another organization that offers safety; pure and simple.
Your communication needs to be ongoing. You can’t stop. You are always communicating. Recognize that people will always say that you are not communicating enough. That’s normal. Just keep communicating. Communication is like good beer…people can’t get enough of it! You need to be having one-on-one communication, department meetings, company-wide meetings, e mailings, postings etc. Pick what works for you and develop what the strategy will be in your organization to get the message out. The key is to develop a strategy. Don’t just communicate when you feel like it, communicate all the time and with a purpose.
Lastly, your communication needs to be consistent. The message you send should be the same message whether it is coming from the president, the plant manager or the first-line leader. Everyone needs to be on the same page. If you are not, you look like inept fools and you send mixed messages. Those mixed messages confuse people and confusion breeds fear which I addressed earlier.
Communication really isn’t hard. It is a lot of work, however. But, if you put in the work, your people will trust and respect you, know what is going on and will not be afraid. The bottom line is that it will help you to retain them. That’s one of your primary goals; employee retention. Open, ongoing and consistent. That’s how communication should be!