Belfast Telegraph

The power of conversation

Claire Brereton
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I often wonder why we make the topic of the employee value proposition so complex, especially now during a period being called ‘The Great Resignation’.

Organisations are fighting to keep their top talent, recruit new employees in a very competitive talent landscape, and work on their employer brand, all the while without speaking to their people. Employee expectations, both current and future, shouldn’t be a mystery – we must simply ask people what they need and want.

For a long time organisations have experienced just how beneficial open and honest conversations can be. From employees disclosing a disability, which is often hidden, to admitting a mental health issue, or even recommending a different way to do things at work, conversations have long been encouraged by work places with an open culture. Not only does this benefit the individual, whose work life could hopefully be made even better, it also instils an appreciation for honest, two-way feedback.

A current trend in the HR world is the idea of a ‘stay interview’, based on the concept of an exit interview. The thought here is not to wait until people are pushed or pulled to another role, but instead set aside time to ask your people; ‘Why did you join us? Why have you stayed? What are our competitors doing? What could we do even better?’. This insight could help organisations tackle small issues, which often have a big impact, as well as address development areas that might be more long-term. The important thing is employees feel like they are being listened to, but even more importantly, employees need to see that progress is made off the back of their conversations. There is nothing more disheartening than providing the same feedback over and over again, through the likes of people forums, surveys, etc., and not seeing any change.

This idea of open communication might seem easier for some organisations than others, depending on their culture, values, and leadership styles. Maybe it’s time to reflect on your own organisation’s communication and employee voice strategy, aside from yearly employee engagement surveys. How are your employees encouraged to communicate and provide feedback, and is this role-modelled from the top?

So, if you’re looking for the answer to improving employee retention, here’s my question instead, ‘what do your employees, current and future, need and want?’

And my suggestion? Ask them! Start the conversation – and follow-up with action.