How to enhance the listening skills that keep employees engaged

Staff Profile - Elizabeth Spencer Phillips
By Elizabeth Spencer-Phillips
Founding Director and MD

In the latest Caburn Hope webinar, we’re discussing communication strategies that support talent retention. Catch the conversation, here.

The price of not listening

Losing talent costs. The (conservative) estimate from the American analytics company Gallup, is that the price of replacing an employee may amount to anything between: 

  • One half of the employee’s annual salary.
  • Two times the employee’s annual salary.

Those sums don’t just represent the obvious expenditure that comes with hiring, recruiting, and onboarding a replacement. They also factor in other, less easy to quantify, financial hits. For example: 

  • The drop in productivity that comes when you lose experience.
  • The lost costs of the training you invested in your former employee.
  • The repercussions for workplace cohesion and engagement. Why is that person leaving? Should I think about my future differently, too? 

In other words, it pays to have an engaged and committed workforce. High engagement boosts retention, reducing turnover by up to as much as 59%. It also results in greater growth, profitability, and customer ratings.

The Rewards of Tuning In 

So, how do organisations boost engagement? In our latest webinar, we’re discussing the critical role played by one under-used, but universally accessible tool. Active listening

Our guests are Alison Stokes, Communications Director, and Susan Ajibouri, Senior Manager of Internal Communications at the global digital infrastructure company, Equinix. To discover their insights about how to:

  • Tune in to your employees
  • Conduct an effective communications review the full webinar, here. Or, read on for Alison and Susan’s advice about three impactful ways to be a better listener.

Three impactful ways to be a better listener

1. Know where people are getting their information

This is a simple point, but one that can often be forgotten. Your employees gather information from a wide range of sources, both formal and informal. So – particularly when it comes to key messages - it’s important to create consistency. ‘It’s about understanding that the wealth of information outlets means that you can’t over-control the message,’ says Alison. ‘But you also want to ensure that you’re not causing confusion by saying different things at different points in time.’

If you want employees to listen to you, they need to trust that they’re getting valid and reliable information. Conflicting messages reduce that trust, which is why aligned messaging is so important. 

2. Use every opportunity to gather data

You don’t need to rely on surveys or focus groups to gain insights into how employees are thinking and feeling. As Alison says, ‘Every time we connect with an employee is an opportunity to learn something.’ 

So, pay attention to Zoom chats. Log the comments that come in. Use a slider tool in town halls, for sentiment gathering. Track which emails are opened, and which posts get replies. Hold leadership interviews. Ask managers about the topics that are being raised in their teams. Talk to colleague resource groups. 

‘By listening to the audience – to employees – and letting them guide us, what we deliver will be much more meaningful,’ says Alison.

Listening promotes an audience-led approach, which engages hearts and minds, makes employees feel safe, and brings them on board when you’re making change. 

3. Ensure you understand the best ways to connect

There is an abundance of ways in which organisations can connect with employees. The trick is knowing which channels are the most effective at landing messages across your company, and creating enough noise, without creating too much noise!

‘We’ve been getting an interesting message from our people,’ says Susan. ‘From a comms perspective we tend to think, “This is a big piece of news, we want to make sure people can see it wherever they go.” But the feedback we’re getting is that seeing the same message in so many places is actually diluting its impact. So, we need to do a big piece of work on channel mapping and be more mindful and strategic about how we use them.’ 

Part of that mindful approach is understanding who uses which channels, and how they prefer to get their information. For employees who are office based, that may be a short video. For factory-based workforces, it might be digital signage in the bathrooms, or a tray liner in the canteen.

‘I’m not a fan of newsletters,’ says Susan, ‘and in some parts of the business newsletters really don’t work. But they really do work for our data centre employees. It’s a real time saver for them because they can look at everything they need in one go.’

Your employees will tell you where they go to get information. By listening to that feedback, you can streamline your communication output and make it more impactful. 


Want to find out more? Listen or watch the full webinar, today.

Staff Profile - Elizabeth Spencer Phillips
By Elizabeth Spencer-Phillips
Founding Director and MD