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Tackling ‘Payback Time’ With Effective Internal Communication

“It is payback time!” said one comment and “never treat professionals as commodities” voiced another as a reaction to the recent independently administered Regus survey which covered 15,000 business respondents from their global contacts database between February and March 2010.

Dearth of promotions, lack of communication and involvement in decision making and little or no visioning by companies were among the top reasons cited by respondents to look for opportunities.

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At a time when the market is looking up and companies scramble for the best talent the finding is a wake-up call for those organizations that recent reduced compensation, did away with employee benefits and negotiated on work responsibilities during the slowdown.

However most organizations do take the knee-jerk approach of increasing salaries to retain employees even when the trend clearly indicates that their staff expects a better experience, lesser stress at work and opportunities that match their aspirations.

Interestingly, when asked what would help keep them back the role of their managers, getting recognized for their work and flexible work hours were ranked highly.

So what can organizations do to address these concerns and keep lines of communication open?

Understand and involve employees to solve their pain points: Very often, a lot is taken for granted when it comes to employee satisfaction. Conducting a survey annually or biannually may not work most often considering how moods and perceptions change internally. This current upward movement in business is a case in point. Managing attrition and perception isn’t also only the CEO’s responsibility. It begins with the manager. The manager needs to know the pulse on his or her team and surface concerns that may be showing up as a trend. If employees have an issue with their commute or their working experience rarely will they shoot an e-mail to the CEO. Rather they would talk to their immediate supervisor.  Invite employees to recommend ways to solve concerns that hamper their work.

Don’t make compensation your crutch: It isn’t about the money all the time. While compensation does influence decisions to stay, the stronger draws are inspiring work, a culture that encourages openness, leaders who know where they are heading and strong relationships with their supervisor. By focusing on salaries you are forgetting what truly got employees to join you in the first place – your organization’s purpose, the great work you do, the portfolio of clients you work with, the values you stand for and the ‘why’ of your existence.

Reinforce your culture, values and great wins: There is no better time than now to be revisiting your strong culture and what makes you different from the rest. So what can you do? Have your leaders talk of your excellent work, cool wins, core values and culture as an ongoing series of engagements with your employees. Recognize those who live these values; involve your employees in a contest that expresses what your culture stands for. Has your organization created a success story for a client? Is there an upcoming milestone or celebratory event that can rally your employees? Do you know of some recent win that will get them excited? How many employees really know of your benefits and practices? Share and involve your employees with these great achievements.

Address your employees’ top peeves; NOW: If you aren’t listening and responding soon to your employees’ concerns you are only building up pent up frustration. Make it a priority to demonstrate tangible actions on issues they have raised. You might even need to publish your plans so that it is transparent and open for review. Give them reasons to contribute even more to your success.

Empower your managers: I recently came across this relevant quote from the CEO of Zappos on the role of the manager. He says that ‘the role of the manager is to remove obstacle and enable his/her direct reports to succeed. This means the best leaders are servant-leaders. They serve those they lead’. Do your managers know this? Are they sufficiently empowered to remove bottlenecks that your employees are facing? What does it take for your managers and their reports to succeed? Here is an opportunity to communicate their roles and ownership more often.

Communicate often and directly: Ensure your employees hear from you often and consistently not just because you are losing a lot of your best talent but you are interested in their overall experience in the organization. Highlight those managers who communicate well. Make them your internal benchmarks.

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