5 Conversations You Need to Have to Increase Employee Retention

Kaylee McHugh headshot

Kaylee McHugh

February 1, 2022
Group of happy people
We’ve all been there. Our job hasn’t been great. We continue to be unhappy at work, and we feel like we’ve tried everything to stick it out. We’ve justified staying because of healthcare, or because we’re on autopilot and it’s easy to grit our teeth and hold out for the weekend. But eventually we reach a breaking point, and we start to look for something new. Once we find something that seems like it could be better, we let our managers know we’re moving on.

As a manager or co-worker, when someone tells us they’re leaving we often ask ourselves what we could have done differently to make them stay. Maybe this person vocalized their dissatisfaction before; maybe we thought we were making progress towards fixing their concerns. Or, maybe this person shut down and stopped sharing entirely and their departure is coming as a complete surprise.

In our research to build ChattyKathi, we wanted to learn more about what brings employees to this breaking point and how we could help stop it. Our initial assumption was that it had more to do with salary, benefits, and promotions than anything else. We were wrong.

Belonging — or feeling whole hearted acceptance into a particular group — is a greater indicator of employee engagement and success than both pay raises and promotions. When someone feels like they belong at a company, they are 3 times as likely to have a greater sense of well-being. They are 3.5 times more likely to be productive, motivated, and engaged. They have a 56% increase in job performance, 50% drop in turnover risk, and 75% reduction in sick days. They receive double the raises, and 18 times the promotions. They are — simply put — happier, healthier, and more likely to stick around and thrive.
Belonging Infographic - 75% less sick days, 50% less turnover, 56% better performance
As a co-worker or manager, you share in the responsibility of helping your team feel like they belong. In doing so, you’ll increase your own sense of belonging. In a recent conversation, friendship psychologist Dr. Marisa G Franco told us that one of the easiest ways to improve someone’s sense of belonging is to help others feel like they belong, too.

Here are 5 conversations you can have with your co-workers to increase your and their sense of belonging and, in turn, improve engagement, increase opportunities for promotions, and spark joy:

1. The Simple “How Are You” 👋
It sounds pretty obvious — just start a conversation by asking someone how they are. But the challenge here is to actually listen. If they respond with “good”, ask a few follow up questions about their weekend, or how their day has been so far. If they respond with “ok”, dig into why. You may uncover something that you can help with, or you might just be able to provide support by listening.

2. Repotting 🌿
Repotting is a concept we learned through Dr. Franco. Essentially, it’s the willingness to open up about a new side of yourself. Studies show that, when we just talk about work with our co-workers, we actually end up feeling more isolated. Asking someone about their hobbies, their families, and their adventures — and sharing about yours as well — will make you feel more connected and comfortable with one another. It will make the conversations about work more fun, too.

3. Play Matchmaker 🕺
It’s much easier to feel lonely than it is to feel connected. You might have a co-worker who isn’t vocalizing their loneliness, but really needs someone to connect with. That person doesn’t necessarily need to be you. If you notice that two co-workers have a lot of similar hobbies, help them to chat with one another. If one of your employees wants to travel to a part of the world another one is from, make sure to let them know. You can never really be certain of who needs a social boost, and it’s never a bad idea to help someone make a new friend.

4. Share Your Vulnerabilities 💪
This one is by far the hardest. As human beings, we’re hardwired to hide our vulnerabilities. Yet, as Brené Brown says, “vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love” and “in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen — really seen”. If you’re struggling with a new task, ask a coworker for help and be honest about why you’re asking for that help. Maybe you don’t have enough context to complete it successfully, or maybe you’re struggling with self-confidence that day. If you share and ask for help from an honest place, your co-worker will be more comfortable asking for your help someday, too.

5. Find That Spark, and Stoke the Fire 🔥
Everyone has something that makes them “tick”. Maybe it’s a love of music, or animals, or extreme climbing. Make sure your co-workers and employees know that you know their job isn’t their only identity. Find out what their passions are, and find ways to support them. Maybe it’s by helping them find others within the company who share their passions. Maybe it’s asking for pictures of their most recent concert, pet outing, or climb. You don’t need to love what someone else loves in order to support it. If they feel supported by you, you’re giving them the opportunity to show that you can feel supported by them, too.

At ChattyKathi, each of these types of conversations are already baked into our product. Our conversation prompt algorithm takes care of the heavy lifting so that belonging is automatically built-in to your company. To check out all we have to offer and receive a free month, visit chattykathi.com today.
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