Why is Employee Communication Important
Did you know that poor workplace communication costs businesses on average over $60 million per year? While we often assume poor communication to and between employees is a temporary or minor issue, it affects culture, engagement, and productivity. Internal communication should be a two-way process. You and your managers should communicate with your people, and they should be given the opportunity to provide feedback to you, but this can be challenging in remote teams.
What is Internal Communication?
Internal communication is how a company interacts with its people. This may be in the form of email, team meetings, digital surveys, newsletters, etc. It can occur in so many ways and places, whether in person, written, or digital communication, and it may happen in a meeting room, over a Zoom call, and in other locations.
If it’s working well, you may not even know it until it’s not. If your company lacks effective internal communication, the company may suffer in task or project completion, collaboration, goal achievement, hiring or retention, and it will affect the company culture.
Strong internal communication can benefit your workplace in the following areas:
The employee experience – if employees feel like they are receiving information about the company and its goals, they can understand how they can contribute to the business. If they know that their contributions form part of the bigger picture and are appreciated, it’s likely to lead to happier, more engaged employees. That’s why OKRs are beneficial to internal communication and, carried out properly, make company goals and strategy more transparent.
Engaged employees can be more loyal, productive, and motivated than disengaged employees.
Role models – if your people see you or managers as open, honest, and timely with internal communication, it may encourage them to follow suit. So, this top-down approach to internal communication to the rest of the workplace becomes part of the workplace culture and company values.
Strengthens teams – there’s the potential for confusion, overlap, and a lack of trust and transparency if your team doesn’t know what you have assigned to who is on leave on set days, etc. That’s why regular team meetings with open communication and a sense of purpose effectively create high-performing teams and productivity. Open team communication also lets individuals work on projects together, achieve goals, cooperate successfully, and develop a culture of recognition, appreciation, and shared decision-making.
Creates a diverse workplace – if you practice inclusive internal communication within your company or team, it allows people from different cultures, backgrounds, education, age, etc., to comfortably come together and work effectively. Such open communication also encourages collaboration and innovation and a safe space when opinions, ideas, and suggestions are valued, appreciated, and received with respect.
Improves retention – when internal communication becomes embedded in the company culture as the norm, this should, as mentioned earlier, improve the employee experience and make employees happier. This, in turn, could improve retention loyalty and encourage individuals to stay with the company.
Increased productivity – if you effectively communicate with your people, you may see productivity improvement and time savings.
For example, if you bombard employees with too much information, they may stop reading it or taking it in. Also, the overwhelm may mean that critical information gets lost, and they spend longer looking for what they need. If you manage the internal communication balance, individuals may work more productively and save time.
How can you improve internal communication?
The way we communicate within a company has developed significantly over the years. Digital transformation has meant that communication is no longer restricted to one-off face-to-face meetings, paper updates, or telephone conversations. Technology allows a much faster pace for internal communication and provides real-time options and virtual communication for remote teams.
Now there are many other ways to communicate internally:
Communication apps – can gather employee feedback quickly and easily and update all staff on company information. They allow immediate communication; they ensure everyone can receive the same information at the same time wherever they’re located and are often mobile-friendly, so time and location are not an obstacle to communication! When you select a digital communication tool, ensure that it reflects your company culture and can be integrated into the company.
Let your people speak! – technology allows pulse surveys for instant employee feedback so that you can see what all employees (or targeted individuals) think about the company, job, team, etc., at any one time. Similarly, all employee surveys can be created, personalized, and initiated via technology to save HR from spending time sending, collecting, and analysing data.
Utilize your intranet – many companies have an intranet, but it’s easy to forget to update it or tell people about it. If you use yours to feature upcoming events, business results, staff achievements, etc., it becomes a quick, easily accessible way for all employees to view the same information.
Be creative – communication doesn’t always have to be in the form of words. Dashboards that highlight sales data or project updates can be an alternative way of communicating information to certain people in the company. Again, consider how your people want to be communicated to. Perhaps they don’t want to trawl through a ten-page report to check data or results, and they would be more receptive to a simple overview of key metrics and goals, etc.
Measure it – it’s essential to focus on effective internal communication, but you need to check in to ensure it’s working well. This may be in employee survey feedback, other feedback initiatives, and ongoing reviews.
How can managers improve their communication?
You don’t need to send every manager on an expensive training course to improve their communication skills, but you can get them to consider:
Listening skills – this applies to managers and the top management team because employees (on the whole) want to be listened to! If you ask them for feedback or input and you don’t listen or act on it, there is room for demotivation. So, whether it’s during a 1:1 meeting with an employee or the results from a pulse survey, managers need to listen to what their people are saying and show that they are taking them seriously.
Meetings – while meetings are essential to speak to direct reports and teams, there’s no benefit to holding meetings for the sake of meetings or meetings that drag on for hours. Too many meetings or lengthy ones can potentially harm communication as employees may resent another meeting, end up not being very present, or may miss the key messages or actions!
Clarify understanding – when managers communicate with teams or individuals, it’s essential to check that they are understood. Some individuals may not understand what is required of them and don’t ask for clarity. Managers can always follow up with an email to confirm actions or projects and regularly check in with their people to ensure they have been clear in their communication.
Use various communication tools – managers don’t have to review which communication method they use consciously, but it is beneficial to vary how they communicate with their people. For example, if they only send emails, there’s a risk that employees will miss important points or information could get lost in translation. So, by speaking to individuals on the phone, video conferencing, email, channels like Slack, and potentially in person, they give many options for clear communication.
Don’t make excuses – not all communication is comfortable, and sometimes managers will need to communicate complex messages to their people. So, while it might be tempting to avoid potential difficult conversations, they are part of the role. Managers need to consider the best way to communicate specific messages and be sure that they are clear without being too blunt! It’s a challenging balance but one that aids communication and engagement.
Internal communication is an essential aspect of the physical and remote workplace, and it takes time to master it! It’s essential to use different communication channels because your audience will differ in their response, and hopefully, variety will appeal to everyone’s preferred communication style. While there are many ways employers can influence and enhance communication within the workforce, managers and employees must also play a part ineffective communication.
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