Hedgehogs. As winter approaches, we nurture these cute critters, putting up signs warning motorists to drive carefully, leaving out bowls of stinky cat food, and building ‘hedgehog houses’ in our gardens to provide safe spaces for the chilly months ahead. But what happens when springtime comes? They shuffle off without a second thought. How rude! After all that effort, it would be nice if Tiggy-Winkle and team would commit for a little longer…
This unsatisfactory exodus can be likened to the prickly issue of workplace retention.
Like a hedgehog’s need for warm leaves and a comfy spot to stay safe, employees have a list of needs to keep them feeling content. As communicators there are points we can prioritise to not only attract people but make them want to hunker down and stick around too.
Creating engaging environments
The four enablers of engagement from David MacLeod and Nita Clarke’s Engaging For Success research is an established model that can help us think about some of the practical elements as well as those warming creature comforts.
Strong strategic narrative
Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going.
- Work with senior leaders to review your existing strategic narrative, making sure it provides a consistent and emotive story with related metaphors and conversation starters about the topics that matter to people.
- Where possible, make this a collaborative process by including and involving employees to encourage them to take ownership of your organisation’s story.
- Create strong links with your vision and values to help unite people around a common purpose, creating camaraderie by engaging hearts as well as minds.
Engaging managers who focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch them.
- Line managers can have a significant impact on building a sense of belonging and togetherness by keeping people connected with the business and with one another but make sure you give them the resources to coach and upskill in these areas.
- Focus on providing managers with the tools they need to help colleagues dissect the details and understand what’s relevant to them when it comes to key things like benefits, flexible working policies and career development opportunities to help create personalised and meaningful employee experiences.
- Promote work-life balance through your line managers and build it into team charters so people feel confident to be themselves among their peers.
Employee voice throughout the organisation to reinforce and challenge views, between functions and externally. Employees are involved, heard, and invited to contribute experiences, expertise and ideas.
- Encourage employees to participate in open conversations to ensure they feel listened to and understood. Support managers to lead on this by helping them to communicate transparently in ways that inform, inspire, engage and motivate.
- Maintain a regular schedule of ‘listening sessions’ involving senior leaders that empower colleagues to confidently contribute their thoughts and opinions.
- Cultivate a participatory communication arena on your internal social channels where employees actively engage in conversations on a peer-to-peer level.
The values on the wall are reflected in day-to-day behaviours. There is no ‘say –do’ gap. Promises made are promises kept, or an explanation given as to why not.
- Maintain a robust comms plan that ensures consistency across your messaging.
- Regularly and openly report on goals and priorities set by the organisation, particularly actions pledged by the top team.
- Clearly demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to workforce diversity, inclusivity, and wellbeing by maintaining strong relationships with your employee resource groups and promoting the work they do.
Stop the resignation spikes
As hedgehogs are naturally nomadic creatures, it seems we’re destined to wave goodbye to these wild animals as the weather warms up. But the same doesn’t have to be said for our employees. Through consistent and considered communication we can help to create memorable and impactful experiences that help our people to feel at home.
By Caroline Roodhouse