Communicating with Employees is Essential for Retention

How often do you sit down with employees for a check in? If you’re not doing so at least quarterly, you may not be setting employees up for success—or retention with the company. Managers must be proactive in communicating with employees about their goals to ensure that employees are satisfied with their current responsibilities, being fully utilized appropriately and looking for opportunities to add value.

According to Rhonda Werner, Director of Culture & Marketing, Ag1Source, she sees most often that ag retailers fall into this pattern.

“There’s a candidate who really wants to go into sales, but they’re willing to jump in and do what it takes to get their foot in the door and be hired. They fulfill that role well, so the employer is less likely to want to move them into a sales role, which is what they really want to do,” she explains. “This is the number one mistake that ag retailers make, because then that employee leaves for another company who is willing to hire them in a sales role—which was the employee’s original goal.”

Werner notes that sometimes, it’s a case of the employee being too successful in their current role and the company leadership not wanting to lose a good employee in that role. However, that should still be a conversation with the employee and their manager should still set expectations around their tenure in that role.

Setting expectations would solve 90% of the problems companies have like this,” Werner says. “You want that candidate to know up front what that you’re not just making empty promises to get them to sign on the dotted line.”

Managers must put themselves into their employees’ shoes and be willing to take the time to train their direct reports for taking on more responsibilities.

“Managers have to ask employees about where they want to be and help them devise a plan to get there,” Werner says. “Most managers get caught up in the daily grind and don’t look broadly at their employees’ career paths and goals—and that’s when they lose people.”

It’s not a one-and-done conversation, either, according to Werner. It’s an ongoing conversation that should be held multiple times a year. Managers should also be honest with employees about where they’re at. A freshly minted graduate may need to pay their dues in the industry or with the company before taking on more responsibility—and that’s a conversation that their manager needs to have with them.

Managers may sometimes say things in a casual conversation with an employee and forget about it, but that employee doesn’t forget the opportunity to get a raise or promotion. Conversations to manage expectations with employees can be held when a job offer is made or during reviews, whether formal or informal.

“That employee won’t forget, and if those promises go unfulfilled, the employee may start feeling neglected and start looking for a new opportunity,” Werner says. “Just being heard makes people happy as much as anything.”