What’s Holding Back Your Workplace’s Communication?How to build a communicative, productive corporate culture

Effective communication in the workplace is critical for teamwork. It makes everything run more smoothly, strengthening workplace relationships and making collaboration easier.

This helps employees become more engaged and productive, ensuring that projects are completed in a timely manner.

Poor communication, on the other hand, takes its toll in many ways. In addition to frustrating misunderstandings and a lack of trust between different levels of organisation, over 30% of employees report that poor communication is the primary cause of stress at work.

While many companies put a lot of effort into their external communications strategy, having a solid internal communications strategy is just as important for a business’s bottom line. We’ll look at common barriers to effective workplace communication and what managers can do to create a more communication-friendly environment.

One-way communication

The traditional workplace communication model is a top-down approach with managers issuing information and feedback to employees. However, truly effective communication is a two-way street, with employees able to voice their opinions, make suggestions and express their concerns freely.

Unless the company culture is already conducive to an open and honest dialogue between management and employees, it can take a bit of work to persuade employees to start speaking their minds. However, the effort will soon pay itself back in vital insights, greater engagement and reduced staff turnover.

An open-doors policy is a good place to start, but not everyone feels comfortable reaching out to their manager without further encouragement. If possible, arrange regular 1-to-1s with employees or try ending team meetings with an open Q&A session.

Enable your employees to provide anonymous feedback too through surveys or suggestion forums—this will ensure that people don’t hold back because of shyness or a reluctance to broach a difficult topic openly.

Communication tools

Employees can spend as much as 20% of their time at work looking for either the right information or the right person to contact. For reasons like this, it’s important to use communication tools that enhance the flow of information.

In order to determine which channels best serve the needs of your workforce, try measuring the effectiveness of your current tools. Pick relevant metrics—for example, the number of unique logins per day and the peak activity times—and use the data you’ve gathered to determine which tools employees rely on and which ones may be duds.

Send out a survey to ask your staff too which channels they would prefer to use for different purposes like receiving company news or feedback. You may not be able to cater to everyone’s preferences, but the answers you get will give you valuable insights and can help you tweak your current set-up to improve overall productivity.

Finally, if you’re using any smart tools, get to know the different functions they offer and make sure you’re making the most of their communication-boosting potential. For example, instead of sitting down with each employee to record their shift preferences, let your staff input this information independently with the help of a smart shift scheduling tool.

Set the right example

Managers perform many tasks that require outstanding communication skills, including giving clear instructions, delivering tough feedback constructively and managing conflicts.

The way they handle these tasks sets the overall tone for communication at the workplace—in other words, better communication begins with the leadership. Unfortunately, many managers seem to fall short of expectations: only 13% of employees think that their leaders are effective communicators.

What improvements do employees want to see in the management? The key areas include active listening, using simple jargon-free language in internal communications, setting clear expectations and providing regular feedback.

Managers can also model authentic communication to their staff by asking more questions and admitting to their own mistakes. This sends a powerful signal to the employees that it’s safe to speak up.

Keep at it

Improving communication in the workplace is a process that can take a lot of patience and learning by trial and error along the way to get right. However, even if it takes a while to see results, putting in the effort is worth it: the boost to employee morale, productivity and engagement alone can completely transform a company.


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