Has your company ever won a Great Place to Work Award? Even if you haven’t, you’ve likely heard of these coveted honors and the companies that win them.

Ragan’s conference in San Francisco highlighting The Role of Communications in Creating Best Places to Work brought together award-winners from across the country to share ideas and best practices. Leaders in both Human Resources and Communications joined forces to share success stories (and not-so-successful-stories) with companies across a wide array of industries.

In the opening keynote, Jody Kohner, global head of employee marketing and engagement at Salesforce, shared about the initiatives Salesforce has used with its employees. Among their strategies, they refer to the traditional HR department as “Employee Success,” and they approach onboarding as your entire first year of work (not just your first week).

What’s her motivation? At Salesforce, passionate and engaged employees lead to more sales. Having the ability to attract and retain talent is critical to building their rapidly growing organization, and it has a tremendous impact on their bottom line.

Nationwide, 71% of people in the labor force are actively seeking and/or open to a new job. Among millennials, this percentage is as high as 90%.

As one of the fastest growing technology companies in the valley, Salesforce has a great deal of momentum which helps significantly with employee engagement — after all, exceeding goals and experiencing financial success is very exciting for employees! However, this wave of momentum is something that many companies lack. When asked for advice about communicating when times are tough, Jody provided some great thoughts:

“The foundation of trust is transparency. Make sure your employees feel like they’re being treated like grown-ups. Treat your employees like they can handle it. Let them know you’re committed.”

Michelle Lutz of Genentech continued this conversation about communicating during change in her session on two-way dialogue in the midst of big changes. She reminded us that employees always have questions when things change, including:

  • Where can I get information about the new way of working?
  • Which system(s) do I use now to complete my day-to-day job?
  • Why are we adopting a new system at this time?

During times of change, communicators must remember that who delivers a message matters almost as much as the message itself. How we deal with change is a reflection of our culture, and we should always provide context and give the opportunity for employees to ask questions.

One of the biggest themes of the event was that in the “new workplace,” one-way communication doesn’t work anymore. Great organizations have shifted communications from a monologue to a dialogue.

If you attended the conference (or are just really passionate about creating great places to work through communication), we would love to hear from you! Find me on Twitter or on LinkedIn so we can continue the conversation.