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Communication key to avoiding employee turnover

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Keeping workers happy is an issue many employers struggle with, but a Purdue University professor says creating a harmonious workplace starts with good communication.

“The number one cause of employee turnover is a lack of organizational commitment, and the way you establish commitment is through effective communication,” says Rodney Vandeveer, an associate professor of organizational leadership and supervision. “When people are informed, they feel connected and valued and want to invest more effort into the company.”

He says a recent study found that 62 percent of employees don’t feel that they are well-informed by management, 64 percent said management does not involve them in the communication process and 68 percent don’t believe the information they are being told.

“When workers aren’t informed completely and consistently, it makes them feel insecure,” Vandeveer says. “That makes for unhappy employees who don’t trust management, and these workers are much more likely to leave the organization.”

Vandeveer, who has more than 30 years of experience in industry working as a plant manager and director of human resources, says to improve communication in an organization managers should do the following:

  • Make sure the lines of communication are open. He says in top-down organizational structures, people feel intimidated talking to managers, but in an effective workplace, employers sincerely listen to all concerns. “You have to really care about people. It has to be genuine. The interaction you have with workers could make or break the company.”
  • Make yourself visible. That includes getting out of your office to talk with workers, not just about work issues but also about personal subjects. “Shake hands, put people’s anniversaries on your calendar, take the time to congratulate them and simply create positive relationships.”
  • Create a balance between ensuring a task gets done and friendmaking. Vandeveer says it is important to maintain a managerial relationship and not become too much of a buddy because workers will have a tough time taking direction from a friend. “But finding the right balance helps workers have commitment to the organization, which helps the bottom line. People will even work for less money if the commitment to the company is present.”

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