5 communication strategies to improve employee retention

By Caitlin Percival
December 19, 2018
5 min read
How Better Internal Communication Improves Employee Retention

In this blog post, we will discuss 5 communication strategies to improve employee retention.

Turnover is among the most expensive problems organizations face today. It costs about one-third of a professional’s salary to find a suitable replacement, should they leave. That’s not including indirect productivity lost during training and onboarding.

Naturally, companies across industries are looking for ways to decrease turnover. They all tend to find the same thing: a lack of engagement is among the leading causes. The key, then, is preventing that switch from ever turning. Your employees need to buy in to stay on board.

Why aren’t employees engaged? Lack of proper internal communication is often the main contender of why your employees are unhappy.

What happens when internal communication fails?

Interdepartmental silos run rampant throughout today’s organizations. There are many factors at play that lead to silos, but most of them can be solved with a proper communication strategy and internal communication tools.

Employees who don’t feel engaged or involved tend to disconnect. When they do, other opportunities become more attractive. Imagine running a company that has just gained a major new customer. If only your sales team knows about it, others will feel like they don’t matter enough to be privy to the information. The disconnect is natural.

In addition, a lack of internal communications capabilities also means failing to build collaborative work environments for your teams. According to one survey, more than one-third of employees feel that they are not provided the opportunity to collaborate enough. That leads to isolation, a lack of connection that ultimately becomes harmful as you try to build a consistent and retention-oriented workplace culture.

In other words, proper communication is one of the most crucial strategies to improve employee retention. Without it, you risk losing the hearts and minds of your teams – and ultimately your teams themselves. Improving your internal communication, therefore, should be a core goal of your internal marketing and HR strategy.

5 internal communication strategies to improve employee retention

You know about the dangers of ignoring the importance of communication within your own organization. Now, let’s turn it around. Clearly, a number of benefits exist for companies that truly embrace the concept. It’s time to explore each of them in more detail.

1) Help your teams understand strategic decisions

Involvement is the first key to engagement and retention. With the right internal communication plan, you can make sure that employees at every level of the organization feel like they’re ‘in the know’. They become insiders who know almost as much about their employer as top decision-makers within the hierarchy.

That can only be possible with a clear communication strategy that considers and builds the exact channels through which your teams will receive your messages. In the past, that might be email, text, or bulletin boards,  but those all have the risk of being missed. It’s better to post to a platform that is more comprehensive, as an intranet. Treat your employees as internal customers, and you begin to realize the importance of this communications approach.

2) Recognize success on a public level

Your employees want to know what’s going on, but they also need to know that they’re valued. A simple kudos from a supervisor may not be enough to make that happen. That’s why the Society for Human Resource Management suggests a public reward and recognition system as a key to sustainable retention.

According to one survey, 68 percent of HR leaders believe in public recognition as a positive force in retention efforts. That can only be possible, of course, if you actually have effective communication channels to get the recognition out to the entire workforce or specific segments of it. That’s another way internal communication improves employee retention.

3) Communicate professional development opportunities

Employee turnover is increasingly correlated with the perceived lack of professional development opportunities. LinkedIn found this year that 93% of employees would stay with their employers for longer if that employer invests in their careers.

Building professional development programs is the basis for success. However, many organizations actually do have them in place; their employees just don’t know about it. Building professional development programs into your internal communication strategy is a crucial tool to help your employees understand their possibilities, become more engaged, and stay with your company for longer.

4) Allow your employees to connect through peer-to-peer platforms

All of the above are essentially top-down communication examples. They’re successful through channels that allow management to communicate down the hierarchy, but not necessarily across the organizational chart. That’s where collaboration tools make a difference.

Without collaboration, your employees will leave. Isolation is yet another reason why your workers don’t stay with your company. You need to provide them with tools to easily connect with each other, even if their offices aren’t right next door.

The right solution allows your teams to both chat casually and share important work information. It gives them a platform to connect, as a meeting room would on an office floor. It’s a perfect opportunity to help your employees connect with each other, helping them feel more connected to their work environment.

5) Build feedback opportunities for two-way communication

Finally, don’t discount the importance of a feedback channel in communication for your teams. In addition to talking to each other, they might want to talk to upper management. The only thing worse than ignoring complaints is not actually giving your employees a chance to air them in the first place.

This is where HR can learn from customer service. Responding to a complaint and solving the problem while making the audience feel heard can turn a disgruntled customer into a brand loyalist. The same can be true for your employees. Give your teams the opportunity to sound off, and act on their suggestions, and you will build loyalty while reducing turnover.

How to start building better internal communication

It all starts with communication. Ultimately, most (if not all) problems that lead to your employees leaving come back to making sure that you’re actually communicating with them. Strategies like the above can help you get started. At the same time, it’s impossible to succeed without the right tools.

In many cases, that means building an intranet. It’s a solution in which your teams can collaborate with each other while listening and responding to messages from the larger organization.

Increase your company’s internal communication and improve employee retention with an Intranet. Sign up for a Free Demo today!  And be sure to check out our assessment tool to know exactly what aspects of your internal comms strategy are working and what aspects need improvement!

By Caitlin Percival

Caitlin is a strategy-driven marketing professional with over six years of experience. She is well versed in goal-driven initiatives and her efforts in digital marketing have included numerous successful marketing campaigns, building and executing social media portfolios and creative storytelling. She holds a Digital and Mobile Marketing Certificate from Simon Fraser University as well as a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours Marketing) degree from the University of Guelph. When she's not in the office, you'll find her in the mountains either skiing or hiking.