How to Improve Employee Retention Using Effective Communication

08 Aug 2023


Each month, around 4.1 million workers quit their jobs, according to a recent news release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means you can expect to lose about two percent of your workforce every month, not including those you must let go of due to poor work performance.

While two percent may not seem like a substantial number, employee retention can affect your bottom line. As you probably already know, the costs of hiring and training new people can be significant.

The good news is that, when done correctly, you can increase employee retention using effective communication.

Here you will learn how to use the proper tone across both internal and external channels. Next, you will discover the secrets of creating an effective communication strategy with your employees. Then, we’ll show you the best ways to hire a writing agency if you need help.

Internal Versus External Communication

While internal and external communications have contrasting goals, they both deliver vital information. The only difference between them is that they have separate target audiences.

Internal Communication

Internal communication resides within the company structure and seldom reaches the outside world. Dissemination is primarily through personal contact, emails, manuals, or online platforms.

Four types of internal communication exist within most corporate structures:

  • Vertical. Messages sent between management and workers. They can move between hierarchal positions indiscriminately.
  • Upward. Requests sent up through the chain of command.
  • Downward. Directives sent from upper management to employees throughout the company.
  • Horizontal. Communication sent to peers within the same hierarchal position.

Internal communication occurs only between the people operating within your organization, where messaging is often informal. Therefore, it is vital to safeguard sensitive information, especially when utilizing technology to publish it.

External Communication

You can break down external communication into two categories:

  • Formal external communication. Includes sales presentations, press releases, and business reports. Utilize these channels to communicate information to stakeholders using a structured, professional tone.
  • Informal external communication. Includescommercial advertisements, social media posts, and blogs. Use this form of communication when informing prospects and customers about your brand.

While there are differences between internal and external communications, you should always align both to your brand’s messaging. That’s why many companies outsource their content creation strategies to a writing agency.

Getting all your teams working together on one project is sometimes difficult. When you hire a writing agency to get it done for you, it removes the conflict between rival departments.

How Tone Affects Employee Retention

Tone is to the written message that voice inflection is to speech. In other words, it sets the mood and reflects the writer’s attitude toward the reader.

Your organization’s internal communication impacts employee retention. Motivational messaging in the workplace helps team members feel valued and appreciated. You provide incentive to your team members by utilizing content with a positive, engaging tone.

Conversely, when you unwittingly berate employees through written communication, it negatively affects their performance. They may even pass on a bitter attitude toward your customers.

A constructive, energetic tone comes across to the reader as being trustworthy and caring. It could also improve customer service by motivating employees to assume a positive attitude.

You should always consider tone in all your messaging, including letters, reports, and standard operating procedures. It directly affects how your readers perceive your attitude toward them.


How to Utilize Correct Tone Within Written Content

Before writing any document, consider its purpose. What outcomes would you like to achieve by sending it to your employees? In other words, you must ask yourself what action you want your reader to take.

Know to whom you are writing and what message you want to convey to them. Tailor your document to a specific audience and utilize a consistent tone throughout.

Here are some examples of the types of tone you can use in your business writing:


You must write confidently to get your reader on board with your ideas. You gain confidence when you carefully prepare your document and proofread it before publishing. You also must be knowledgeable about the subject.

A confident tone will persuade your audience. However, you should always avoid any hint of presumption or arrogance within the text. 


Be polite and sincere when communicating with your employees. You will foster more goodwill and cooperation than if you use a disrespectful tone.

Those you lead will accept your point of view if the tone is respectful and honest. In contrast, a polite but insincere message will come across as condescending.

Emphasis and Subordination

Emphasize an idea by placing it within a shorter sentence. You can also add emphasis by placing your most important points within the first paragraph.

Likewise, use compound sentences when expanding on the main idea. Later sections become subordinate to the focal point but still provide valuable information.


Of course, you should never use profanity in your business writing. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using discriminatory language. Even the slightest hint of bias can alienate your reader.

For example, it’s best to use neutral job titles, such as “chairperson” instead of “chairman.” You set a more agreeable tone by avoiding gender discrimination.

Another thing to avoid is group membership. For example, avoid telling an employee they did a good job despite being one of the older workers. 

Reader Benefits

Readers always want to know what’s in it for them when spending time skimming your content. Therefore, you should always keep them in mind when crafting any internal communication.

For example, instead of:

“I want to stress the importance of safety.”

Try this:

“Keep yourself and your co-workers safe by following these guidelines.“

By focusing on reader benefits, you avoid sounding arrogant and self-centered.

Difficulty Level

Again, think about your audience when choosing your difficulty level. For example, you must use simpler language when writing to court clerks than to district court judges. While both groups of professionals work in the law field, it’s the judges who typically have a higher level of education.

What if the message is negative?

Utilizing the correct tone is vital when writing a negative message. For example, sometimes, you must reprimand an employee or deny a request. In either case, you should maintain a professional tone throughout the message.

Avoid attacking the individual. Instead, state your position clearly. For example:

“Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.”

Instead of:

“You are always harassing the other employees.”

In the case of negative messaging, active voice does not work well. Instead, utilize passive language to avoid singling out the individual.

How to Create an Effective Communication Strategy

Establishing an internal communication strategy provides your employees with practical information they can use immediately. Without it, your team members may feel alienated and forgotten. 

Another reason for creating a targeted communication strategy is to preserve your company’s reputation.

Your employees have unprecedented access to a myriad of social media channels. As a result, one disappointed worker can spread their dislike for your company to millions.

You can avoid creating ill will among your employees by keeping them informed. Then, they will feel appreciated and give your customers the same consideration.

Step 1: Research

The first step in your internal content creation process is to evaluate where you are now. What is the most crucial knowledge your employees need, and what channels do they prefer using?

You can utilize tools such as surveys or questionnaires to obtain the data. By conducting careful research, you create a thoughtful plan to carry out your communication strategy.

Step 2: Planning

Next, it’s time to plan your strategy. Again, your focus should be on the audience and their needs.

You will have to decide which channels best fit each role. For example, new hires will require more in-person instruction than your high-level managers. Some employees prefer emails, while others need procedural manuals to get them through the day. 

Step 3: Execution

Since your goal is to increase employee retention, keep that in mind when executing your plan. With each message, use the tone most appropriate for each piece, and maintain consistency throughout all documentation.

This is also the phase where you publish each document. You have already decided which channels best fit your audience, so it’s time to plug each message into the correct one. 

While this may seem like a daunting task, there are professionals you can turn to for help.

Step 4: Test and Evaluate

You can enlist the guidance of your quality control team to test and evaluate your company’s communication strategy. You will need to adjust as necessary to achieve the desired outcomes.

Main Takeaway

The most important idea to come away with here is to always keep your reader in mind. Ask yourself how you would perceive the message if you were the employee. How would you feel after reading it?

Like it or not, humans have feelings, and the tone of your written message can affect your employees’ emotions and even their willingness to stay with your company.

That’s why you may want to get help with your internal communication strategy. Outside professionals can maintain objectivity and leave emotion out of it. If you choose to hire a writing agency, look for one with experience in setting the proper tone.

Steve Epperson 

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