Can Employee Engagement Fit in Your Pocket?

We all know how costly it is to replace employees when they leave an organization. In an article from TLNT I learned that when you consider all of the costs associated with employee turnover – including interviewing, hiring, training, reduced productivity, lost opportunity costs, etc. – here’s what it really costs an organization:

  • For entry-level employees, it costs between 30 and 50 percent of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For mid-level employees, it costs upwards of 150 percent of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For high-level or highly specialized employees, you’re looking at 400 percent of their annual salary.


I’m a big believer in the notion that people join companies but leave managers. There is a great deal of research that proves managers have the biggest impact on employee engagement. They are typically the ones making work assignments and setting the tone for the work environment.

The way in which a manager can engage a new employee through effective onboarding and creating a sense of belonging to the group can have a huge impact in establishing a long-term relationship between the organization and that employee. Employees who have good work relationships are less likely to leave that organization.

People Using CellphoneThe key to building any type of lasting relationship has to do with the frequency and content of the communication. The content needs to be genuine, encouraging and supportive. The frequency factor can become an issue given busy schedules of back-to-back meetings, leaving little time for a manager to actually observe employees, provide beneficial feedback or be accessible to their teams to offer direction and motivation.

That got me thinking about how technology might be leveraged to create more connection.

What is the one thing that is always close at hand? The cell phone!

If I think about the tool I use to stay connected with co-workers and friends, it’s through my cell phone. Texting, social media apps or phone calls. While companies may have restrictions on the type of social media that they will support, texting is commonly accepted.

Here’s how I could envision a manager leveraging the cell phone, specifically texting, to improve employee engagement and positively impact retention:

  • For new hires, sending a text message in-between meetings to check in on the orientation session and/or how the job shadowing is going and inviting them to send any questions that are coming up as well as setting up a time to meet at the end of the week.
  • Sending a text message to an employee to relay some positive feedback received from another department head while at a conference they are attending.
  • Providing some specific suggestions for polishing a presentation that they are reviewing while traveling out-of-town.
  • Sending the entire team a group message with news of a change in direction on a project so they can pause the work to avoid re-work and use their time on other activities. Everyone gets the same message at the same time which can reduce the chance of miscommunication.

While difficult messages should never be sent via text message, it is a useful approach to improve a manager’s accessibility and let his team know he’s thinking of them. It also sets up a useful 2-way communication style and can even contribute to a fun work style through the use of appropriate emojis!

Think about how you could leverage the text message option to add a personal touch with your employees. A well-connected team is more likely to stay connected and less likely to want to look for opportunities to leave the company.

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at