When an employee leaves, the organization loses the benefits of their knowledge and experience, and their relations with customers, colleagues and for example service providers. The impact of such a loss on a company’s bottom line can be substantial. Looking for a replacement is a costly and time-consuming process, and there’s no guarantee of it working out. We’re providing some hints on how to reduce the risk of valuable employees leaving by even as much as seven times!
I work with those I know
The model of hybrid work has become the standard in the post-covid world, and is predominant in over 89% of businesses). A consequence of the increased proportion of home-based work is less frequent direct interaction between staff, which significantly effects the flow of knowledge – both formal and informal – in the organization.
The analysis in The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers (LINK) conducted on 61182 Microsoft employees shows how the mode of communication and information flow between workers changed between the period before Covid-19 and after the pandemic. It turned out that the new work model resulted in employees focusing on communication and cooperation within their own departments, while simultaneously reducing contact with other teams in the organization.
Hybrid work reduced the amount of time given to work in mixed teams. The number of interdepartmental connections dropped, while in the situation of office-based work, the number of informal contacts had been far higher. In the new working conditions, employees became more oriented towards their immediate circle and pre-established relations. The employee cooperation network became more static and siloed, and communication within the organization increasingly asynchronous. Workers were finding it hard to obtain information and share it with the rest of the organization.
I wouldn’t have left the job if…
The new conditions of work changed employees’ needs and reasons for perceiving an employer as attractive. A study by Glint in 2022 shows that a factor that has become particularly important is the quality of communication in an organization. How workers rate its clarity and authenticity has a fundamental impact on their potential motivation to change jobs.
Employees who claim to have clearly-communicated goals at work:
• plan to continue working at the company for at least two years 3.95 times more often
• think about looking for a new job 7.1 times less often
• claim 4.5 more often to be happy at work with their current employer
People who feel that they have the clear information essential for performing their work think seven times less often about changing jobs. Employees who complain about communication in the company are less satisfied with their jobs, less engaged, and more likely to look for a new employer.
It’s not a lack of communication tools that’s the problem
The technology industry responded to the market need thus outlined. There was a whole wave of new technological solutions serving remote communication. So tool availability is no longer the problem. What is the problem is their multitude, the parallel functioning of multiple channels, the scattering of information. According to Relevance Report 2021: Workplace | Coveo, employees spend on average 3.6 hours a day searching through various data sources for the information they need to do their work.
With yet more tools available on the computer desktop, it is possible to send even more files, to display better picture quality, to conducted higher-quality conversations, to play back recorded meetings. But employees are ceasing to appreciate new technological developments, and starting to complain of being overloaded with information, and about an ever greater lack of clarity in the message or priorities in what to do.
Poor cooperation the cause, bad communication the effect
When employees are dissatisfied with the standard of communication in the company, this by no means has to mean that the reason for this is badly planned information flow, inappropriate data circulation procedures, managerial incompetence, or faulty technology. According to A Small Book on Cooperation (V.Wekselberg, Jacek Wasilewski, 2021) the cause of poorly-rated communication may lie in the quality of cooperation. In other words, the essence of the problem is not the communication itself, but rather the general issue of cooperation.
What is cooperation?
Cooperation is a social process, based on the interaction of people, teams or organizations, in which alignment is generated between individual and team goals, of the different departments of the entire organization. A key issue here is building consensus in the interpretation of what is happening inside and outside of the team, the department, or the organization as a whole.
Source: A Small Book on Cooperation, Victor Wekselberg, Jacek Wasilewski, 2021
So how to reduce the risk of valuable employees saying goodbye?
Improving the process of information flow in organizations where cooperation is not functioning as it should could exacerbate the problem. There is a risk of only that information important for the company’s growth being communicated, and of a silo approach, the pursuit of disparate goals, and divergent courses of activity becoming entrenched in the teams.
The first step on the road to improving the quality of communication should be to measure the quality of cooperation. Focusing the organization on factors with an impact on cooperation will improve the way in which its members communicate. They will begin to focus their activities on working together to identify goals. Only at this stage is it worth tackling the process of communication itself. Then it will even be possible to achieve a seven-fold reduction in the risk of valuable employees saying goodbye.