As the workplace continues to expand, so do the challenges for communicating with employees. Employees are demanding better communication with the multiple departments they interact with throughout the day, and even more empathetic and genuine communication with their leadership.

Employees who feel their concerns and ideas go unheard search for companies that will respect them and value their skills.

While production remains at the top of the priority list for companies, the effect that has on its foundation—its employees—becomes counterintuitive toward their overall goals. Organizations should examine their priorities if their employees’ satisfaction and value do not come first.

Some companies are beginning to realize that potential employees who fit into their business’s culture are desirable because of their potential to strengthen the organization, and their skills and talent can be trained and enhanced. Employee value and human importance has to be the focus to strengthen loyalty.

Companies with low retention rates need to take a closer look at how they’re communicating with their employees. And even organizations that have a higher retention rate can always improve and look for areas to “raise the bar” in their internal communications goals.

What are the areas employees crave the most with the companies they work for? Here are five keys to productive internal communications.

1. Treat others as human beings

The workplace environment has shaped people for years to be treated as disposable numbers rather than the valued assets they are. And sadly, workers often fall into the trap of feeling that they are only that number.

We cannot change people. But we can control ourselves and how we treat others. We should always strive to treat others as the valuable human beings they are.

Everyone has a skill or talent that made them a great fit for the company, and they should consistently be reminded of that. Praise your employees whenever possible and seek out advancement opportunities for them. And make sure your tone of voice and body language give them the respect they deserve.

2. Treat others with kindness

We all have our bad days. And when we do, would we rather someone say something encouraging to us, or shout at and belittle us?

There is never an excuse to exhibit cruelty to others. And harsh behavior is unprofessional.

Smiling, saying something nice and being patient (as we would want others to do with us) isn’t difficult. And treating others with empathy and kindness increases productivity in the workplace.

If you want to see positive results so your business can run smoothly and grow, be kind to your employees. Attitudes spread throughout the organization, and our goal is to make sure the attitude is friendly.

3. Use the personal touch

Emails, text messaging and phone calls have their uses for convenience. But nothing beats the one-on-one approach.

That can be challenging with large organizations, especially when they’re global, but leadership has to make it a point to be in front of employees as often as possible. We relate to other human beings, not the computer screen. Human beings have feelings, they smile at us and they talk to us with real voices. Screens are devoid of feeling and often cause misunderstandings.

We relate to other human beings, not the computer screen.

The president of the company cannot be everywhere at once all the time, but video conferencing helps. And when this is routinely followed up with personal interaction, it builds trust and commitment from employees.

And when the president, C-suite executives and other leaders appear in the flesh, they need to make sure they are genuinely interacting with employees. Huddling with fellow leadership teams, slightly glancing at employees without saying a word as they go by (and a quick, “how are you doing?” doesn’t count when you keep walking), staying behind closed conference room doors—none of those are effective for interaction.

Stop. Shake hands with your employees. Ask them how they are doing, listen to their responses and acknowledge them. Praise them for their hard work. Smile and be kind.

4. Listen to employees

Ask your employees questions to determine if your communications are reaching them. Anonymous surveys, town halls and group discussions are excellent sources to encourage employees to share whether your communications are effective.

To go a step further, conduct communications audits to help you determine gaps in the communications and how to fix them.

But above all, listen to what they are saying. And you show employees you are listening to them when you take action.

You can also encourage employees to speak up with their innovative ideas by setting the example. Not all managers’ ideas are accepted, but employees should see that their supervisor contributes to the team by not hesitating to express ideas. Employees will be inspired to do the same.

5. Avoid overwhelm

Information overload causes severe overwhelm and lowers morale. When we receive multiple communications, we train ourselves to ignore them, especially when we see lengthy emails and documents with multiple pages. We tend to glance quickly and move on to our current task, and therefore we do not give ourselves time to absorb what we’re reading.

While some communications are legitimately imperative to share, we need to avoid tagging all communications with the same urgency.

As often as possible, schedule communications so that multiple people are not sending the same things. Limit communications so they aren’t inundating workloads and interrupting activities.

While multiple mediums for sending communications can be useful, not all methods have the same audience, so tailor your communications for specific channels. With that said, much of the communication can be reduced to highlight key points, with a link to the in-depth details.