We know that communication is key, but knowing is not the same as doing. A lack of effective communication in the workplace is one of the biggest contributors to employee disengagement. And as reported by Inc.com, “communication barriers cost the average organization $62.4 million per year in lost productivity”.
As many employees continue to work remotely, reducing communication barriers needs to be one of the top priorities of HR leaders. How you communicate with your employees speaks to your corporate brand, company culture, and impacts the overall employee experience—not to mention revenue.
Here are some ways that you can foster effective communication in the workplace.
1. Choose the right medium of internal communications
Internal communication refers to all the different methods you use to connect with your employees on a daily basis. This includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messaging applications (such as Slack), intranet systems, and however you host meetings (e.g. Zoom or Meet).
Think about your company’s current communication preferences in the workplace. How do your employees currently receive news and updates? Through Slack, Zoom conference calls, or email? How effective are these channels? Knowing these answers will help you decide which communication tools match up best with how your employees like to communicate.
2. Resolve communication gaps
A lot of information is communicated to your team throughout the work day. With so many different forms of communication happening at work—from flooded email inboxes and Slack channels to back-to-back video calls—some important things may fall between the cracks.
Poor communication can mean a lack of clear direction from management, poor company-wide communication, or business changes that are not well communicated (or even communicated at all).
How can you ensure your messages are coming across effectively and are bridging silos between departments?
To remove obstacles to information flow, commit to providing ongoing feedback and updates to employees at regular and predictable intervals. Maintaining a schedule of when things will be communicated sets expectations and creates anticipation.
3. Utilize in-person communication effectively
Email and text messaging both provide an easy way to maintain internal communication. That said, face-to-face communication still plays a big role, particularly when the information is sensitive. Although in-person meetings are now primarily being held virtually due to provincial COVID-19 restrictions, the effect is the same, allowing for instant feedback and reducing the chances of a misread “tone”.
4. Take ownership of internal communication
Managers and supervisors should model the accessibility and transparency they wish to see in internal communication. They are the conductors for sharing information and instructions, and must encourage receiving ideas and input from employees. Their interactions provide insight about your employees’ individual strengths, where their abilities are best suited, and where they can be challenged to grow. This requires regular one-on-one conversations and open communication.
5. Think about tone
What resonates with your people isn’t just what’s being communicated to them, but also how it’s communicated to them through tone of voice and communication style. A conversational, friendly tone will resonate with your employees, so be personable and don’t be afraid to inject some light humour, if appropriate.
6. Foster a culture of recognition
Through internal communication, your team can share and celebrate individual and group milestones and successes. Whether done through company newsletters or at all-hands meetings, employee recognition enhances communication, collaboration, innovation, and engagement. Employee appreciation gestures, including thank you cards or a gratitude wall, can help connect team members to your greater vision.
7. Develop employee resource groups
Internal committees centered on specific topics relevant to your workforce can provide a space for improving the employee experience. When employees participate, they can collaborate to support each other, widen and strengthen their networks, and work together to further your company goals.
Some examples include a health and safety committee, a social committee for people and culture initiatives, and a women’s development network for professional growth. Employees can take the lead on internal communications within these interest groups.
The link between internal communications and employee engagement is clear. By improving your internal communications, your people gain transparent insight into your company’s purpose and progress, and in turn, you gain their trust, loyalty, and increase in productivity.