Flat Organisations and Employee Retention

Flatter organisations are better at creating more transparent work environments. Communication across and between departments and teams are quicker and generally better than in traditional hierarchical structures. They are also perceived to be less ‘bureaucratic’, though I’m less convinced about that one.

But, they have one weakness… career progression! One friend of mine recently told of how a large commercial brand with a flat structure was nurturing “horizontal progression”(!) It was strange for both her and her colleagues to imagine progression being sideways rather than upwards. She left the firm within two-weeks of that meeting.

Though it didn’t work out for my friend and this company, it’s an exemplary model, if done well. ‘Horizontal Progression’ may mean being able to complete internal internships in other related departments to improve interdepartmental communication. It will also help in developing more rounded team members that not only understand the intricacies of their functional areas, but also possess a great overview of closely linked departments. It is this type of information exchange which encourages innovation, better collaboration and a more dynamic workforce.

It’s important that flatter organisations not forget these aspects: their greatest weakness can turn out to be a source of major strength.

About the Author
Anna Pierz