Losing employees is an administrative burden and a cost. However, it is more than that. It is a change to dynamics in the workplace. The departure of an employee can be unsettling in
the period leading up to them leaving and afterwards, plus there are issues related to whether they are leaving or being pushed.
This is no small concern, after all 40% of workers will start looking for a new job within the first half of this year, and 69% say they’re already been looking, at least keeping an eye out for opportunities. Meanwhile, people are habitually changing jobs on a regular basis, with 25- to 34-year-olds currently holding their jobs for an average 2.7 years, down from 3 years in 1983.
Other issues include knowledge management. You have perhaps trained those leaving, and certainly added to the skill-base they take with them. They are taking that knowledge with them, and your organization is left with the job of replenishing or salvaging what you can of their knowledge before they leave.
People leaving is also a recruitment issue about how well staff are retained, and what people say about you when they leave. Disgruntled employees and ex-employees can put off a lot of talent.
There are doubtless many other reasons you can think of why keeping your best employees is a jolly good idea, but let’s look at the role internal communications can play in doing just that, by following a five step programme.
- Involvement: having an internal communications approach which involves employees keeps their sense of belonging, and has the added attraction of making it harder for them to make a break. However, it’s not happyemployees you want (though it’s nice when they’re happy), but engaged and involved employees.
- Value: valuing employees, not just financially but in terms of what they contribute, goes a long way and has to move beyond the rhetoric of “values” to provide the support to help employees value each other in their day-to-day work through their words and actions.
- Work/Life balance: promoting a work/life balance and supporting leisure or rest away from work communicates values far more than any campaign slogan can achieve. The boasts of “look how hard I’m working!” or “I was working until 2am!” are not attitudes that play out so well today, and behaving in this way can be counterproductive in any case.
- Reward: it’s one thing to advocate reward, it’s another to do so effectively. This is not just about pay packets, people feel rewarded in many ways at work. Company awards, recognition in the internal magazine, a chance to speak at the company annual staff meeting are among the various ways you can communicate reward. People are rewarded not just by money but also by their experience of being an employee, and this is often forgotten.
- The path ahead: how inspiring are your internal communications? Do they tell the story of what your organization is doing? If employees can visualize their future in the organization they are more likely to stay.
As with all things, internal communications overlaps with other functions when you look at the implications of this five-step programme, but one value you can offer immediately is to start the dialogue internally that can shape the future.