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As an employee retention speaker and employee retention author, I am always looking for a better way to drive communication and build a culture that fosters employee retention.  This morning, I read an article about a new software being used in high tech that is designed to get people to express their opinions and create transparency.  In the article, they admit that for all the talk about how great things are in high tech and all the revolutionary things they are doing, it’s still like any typical corporate environment with politics, lack of communication and often the same old dysfunctional corporate culture.  Enter the new communication software.  It’s designed to enable employees to go online anonymously to express their opinions, so HR can hear what employees are thinking and make changes accordingly.  My only question is.  Is this just a way to avoid doing what is really at the heart of communication?  You still haven’t solved the communication problem which is that people are not getting face-to-face and actually talking to each other in order to hear what the problems are.  The software creates a way to avoid dealing with the real issue.

From a business perspective, we complain that “young people” don’t have the communications skills because they have become dependent on technology to communicate.  This hurts their customer service skills, their ability to deal with conflict, communication amongst each other, between departments, etc., etc., etc.  Yet, we use tools like the one in the article to communicate so people don’t have to get face-to-face.  The anonymity that comes with programs like this is problematic as well.  People can make any statement they want and never have to face the person that they might be complaining about.  We have seen the negativity this has with the explosion in problems due to social media.

This creates a real dilemma.  How do we blend the two to optimize the impact of both?  This employee retention speaker and employee retention trainer believes that the technology needs to be a tool to drive employee culture and hence employee retention.  If you still have a culture of lack of trust (which is why people won’t talk face-to-face), you still have a culture that does not promote employee retention.  The answer is to start with building the culture through transparency, communication, and visibility.  That’s where it needs to start.  Then, add the tech tools into the mix.  When that happens, you take your culture, and your employee retention to the next level.

Early in my career as an HR professional, I had all these new ideas that were the flavor of the day.  Then one day, I had a GM who told me to “forget fancy fads…focus on the fundamentals.”  We used some of the fancy fads…but our emphasis was on the fundamentals like transparency, communication and visibility.  It worked to drive improved employee retention.  Let’s make sure that we’re not falling into the trap that we are using avoidance instead of transparency.