The link between communication and increasing employee retention
You may have heard of the “The Great Resignation”—where employees have left companies in droves in recent years. Among the numerous ways the pandemic has impacted people, it made workers reevaluate their personal and professional priorities, and what they need in an employer. According to the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the overall staff turnover rate is 57.3%. And the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report found that companies can actually avoid 75% of employee turnover. What does this tell employers? Increasing employee retention is not impossible, but companies have to do it strategically.
In our remote-first world, interactions between managers, staff, and leaders primarily take place online. Because of this, communication is critical to the success of companies’ employee retention efforts. Companies must figure out how to communicate effectively with their staff, to make sure their staff feel challenged, fulfilled, and rewarded by their jobs.
Genuine and honest communication is no longer a nice-to-have, it is the foundation of trust between an employer and its employees. Navigating alternative work arrangements and hours, ensuring a good culture fit, preventing burnout, and providing mentorship requires open, transparent communication between all leadership levels and employees.
So how exactly do you build strong communication in a remote environment and increase employee retention at the workplace?
Employee recognition programs are a great way to show your appreciation for your employees’ hard work. They also help motivate employees to do their best. Employee rewards and recognition software like Bucketlist Rewards makes it easy and fun for employees and managers to recognize and reward one another for milestones, achievements, and a job well done. It's so easy as it integrates with the programs you already use every day.
Positive employee feedback loops are essential for helping employees feel heard and valued. The feedback should cover topics like compensation, perks and benefits, company and job outlook etc. They should also offer a safe space for employees to offer ways leadership and the company can improve. Remember that listening and allowing employees to feel heard is crucial. It can be tempting to respond emotionally to feedback, but understand that all employees also wish to see the company grow and mature. Pulse survey software like Culture Amp and Qualtrics EmployeeXM can help facilitate anonymous feedback gathering.
By having a safe space for employees to share their feedback, they are more likely to feel heard, valued, and satisfied, which can increase employee retention.
In a remote work environment, flexible work arrangements are a necessity. Between pets, children, other life commitments, it can be incredibly challenging to maintain a strict 9-to-5 routine. However, navigating flexible work arrangements and hours can be tricky. But with clear communication between leaders, managers, and employees, companies can increase employee-employer trust by accommodating flexible work arrangements. This way, employees get to enjoy better work-life balance in a way that works for them and the company.
In our pre-pandemic world, employees enjoyed “watercooler conversations,” grabbing lunch together, and even drinks after work. If you had things like beer on tap and regular corporate socials, it may be challenging to encourage employees to join virtual socials. If you have a hybrid work environment, employees may not be willing to commute to the office.
The good news is employee dynamics can be among the strongest in a remote environment. That’s because seasoned remote employees and companies understand the importance of strong communication, and have set up structures to encourage open and candid conversations.
A weekly team social hour where you celebrate wins is a good way to maintain employee social connections. You could even have this weekly social in a hybrid environment and give team members the options of going in-person to the office, or joining virtually. This is also a great time to announce and celebrate employees who’ve recently been rewarded for their efforts.
Another way to encourage strong relations between team members is to set up regular 1:1s between managers and team members. This gives employees an outlet to share their ideas and feedback regularly.
Strong team dynamics can go a long way to making employees feel happy at work—after all, as social beings, solid human connections are key to life.
Radical Candor is a book by Kim Scott and it outlines how to care for people personally while still challenging them directly. At the heart of Radical Candor is the belief that “caring personally while challenging directly” is the antidote to toxic company cultures. This is especially true in a remote environment. You can still take care and treat employees as unique individuals with a complex personal life, but still be able to provide honest feedback to improve—should they require it. You could say the concept of “radical candor” is key to a cohesive, kick-ass team that achieves amazing results.
While employee retention programs, feedback structures etc. can help with improving communication and employee retention, upper management and leaders have to lead by example. This can help the culture of transparent feedback, clear communication, and radical candor permeate more effectively throughout the company.
Now you’ve collected a few ideas to build solid communication in your team and increase employee retention, you’re ready to put them into action!