The author shares guidance on how companies can keep employees engaged and motivated amid ongoing uncertainty.

Companies still adapting to the ever-changing COVID-19 workplace are now facing another challenge lurking in all industries – employee retention.

This is becoming a widespread issue among many companies, as employees are dealing with worker burnout, hybrid schedules and health issues. The temporary needs of the pandemic demanded previously unexplored ways to work, and employees may not be ready to give them up just yet.

How can companies curb the influx of employee departures? It’s all about communication. Without it, companies will not be able to survive, and here’s why.

Given the combination of a hot job market and increased awareness of work options, it is no surprise that employees are reevaluating their jobs and looking for more attractive engagements. For them, what it means to find a job that is a “good fit” has expanded to include an entirely new set of criteria.

Companies would be smart to plan ahead and implement practices if they hope to retain key talent. This includes a communications strategy that begins with fully understanding your employees and their needs and keeping them engaged.

Employees and companies are still facing new situations and adapting to changes in their workplace in order for the business to stay alive. Without consistent, clear communication, the process of adapting to these changes only makes things more difficult and can result in employee frustration. Keeping in touch with employees on updates about company guidelines and taking the pulse of how employees are dealing with the new norm in the workplace is key to retaining employees.

Communicate about what matters most to employees as they try to be efficient and productive in a changed environment. For example, working from home a few days a week can become a nightmare if the company has not taken the time to communicate the resources available when many employees may still work from home. Lack of communication can cause dissatisfaction and result in resignations.

Here are just some communications tips for companies to consider:

  • Giving employees a heads up by creating a weekly newsletter with updates about how the company is dealing with changes and invite feedback.
  • Developing a portal where employees can contribute tips and suggestions about workplace likes and dislikes to be shared internally.
  • Scheduling periodic forums or one-on-ones with employees so they can express their concerns and provide feedback on what the company can do better.
  • Seeking employee engagement advisors to support companies in their efforts to retain talent.

In addition to internal communications, it is always important for companies to keep external audiences and clients updated on business. Keeping your clients and external audiences informed and engaged through good times and bad can support your relationship and build trust.

Although we have seen some modifications in the way companies have been communicating to clients and external audiences during the pandemic, such as online video chats, there are some core best practices that have not changed, including:

  • Posting updates on social media and on your company website.
  • Taking part in industry panels and webcasts as thought leaders in an industry segment relevant to your company.
  • Scheduling background discussions with media to update them on your company.
  • Offering commentary on timely trends and themes within your specialized sector.
  • Developing thought leadership or blog content to share with external audiences about timely topics impacting your industry.

At least in the short term, it’s likely we’re all going to be required to continue making adjustments in our daily lives as the challenges of the pandemic continue to emerge, but frequent and clear communication can play an important part in alleviating some of the stress with the changes taking place in the workplace and throughout the world. The role of communications in keeping employees engaged and connected to their colleagues and the company will always be important.  It’s just one more thing the pandemic did not change.

With over 25 years of experience in media and public relations, Rosalia Scampoli is a partner and senior media director of Marketcom PR.

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