Last updated on March 3, 2023 at 06:14 pm
Communication in the workplace has become increasingly more important as the workplace has changed. But it feels like it’s never been harder to cut through the noise, reach, and connect with our employees. All eyes are on the internal communication team to solve our challenges with employee engagement, worker burnout, and the employee experience. To help, we’ll share the top ways that communicators can improve communication in the workplace.
But first, let’s dive in deeper to why it’s so important to improve workplace comms.
Why is Effective Communication Important in the Workplace?
Why should you spend time, resources, and budget on improving communication in your workplace? There are many reasons why more effective communication makes a difference.
Effective workplace communication:
- Builds trust. When we are more transparent and open when we communicate, this builds trust. If employees only ever hear about changes or updates second hand or through the “rumor mill” it makes sense that they would feel like they aren’t valued or respected, right? So, when we communicate more frequently and effectively, we start to change that narrative.
- Reduces burnout and workplace stress. No one likes being in the dark. But even more dangerous is if we miscommunicate something. This creates some whiplash when you have to correct a message or a behavior repeatedly. Over time, this can wear your workers down and plant a seed of doubt that the company and the executive leadership team know what they’re doing.
- Improves performance. When communication is effective, productivity can soar. You reduce confusion, create clearer calls to action, and help everyone understand why certain changes or actions are important. And when your teams can be more efficient, this reduces safety risks and saves your company money.
- Improves company culture. The way we communicate is closely linked with how employees feel about where they work. Like any relationship, communication is key. And how we communicate is just as important for culture as what we communicate.
When we don’t make workplace communication a priority, we risk costly miscommunication. A recent Grammarly study on the State of Business Communication found that unsuccessful communication:
- Costs businesses $1.2 trillion every year.
- Costs teams 7.5 hours per week
What Does Effective Communication in the Workplace Look Like?
Before you can improve communication at your company, you have to understand the end goal. What does successful communication look like?
We’d characterize good communication as being:
- Purposeful. You aren’t just communicating to communicate. You have a clearly defined purpose behind why you are sharing a message.
- Targeted. Your messages are tailored to a specific audience. This not only avoids wasting the time of teams who the message is irrelevant to, but you also can then shape how and what you share to appeal to the impacted group.
- Clear. Your message has to make sense to the target audience. So, if you’re writing to your frontline teams in the field, you need to use the language they will understand and provide the level of detail those teams will need to take appropriate action.
- Concise. People are busy. And messages become much less effective when people don’t read the whole thing, right? So, try to keep your message as short as possible—but not so short that you sacrifice clarity.
- Accurate. We have to get the details right when we communicate. We don’t have approval workflows for nothing!
- Respectful. There are many ways we have to be considerate of our employees when we communicate with them. From the language we use to the time of day, all these decisions can go a long way towards being courteous to our teams.
How Do You Improve Your Workplace Communication?
So, how do we improve communication in the workplace? These five tips can help you make a big difference.
Tip 1: Focus on empathy in leadership communication.
A trend that really came into focus in 2022 was the importance of empathetic leaders. The 2022 and 2023 Edelman Trust Barometers have talked about a person’s employer being one of the most trusted sources of information. And that CEO’s have a big role to play in speaking out on social issues and leading change.
Despite executive communication being in the spotlight, we’ve seen many companies still struggle in this regard—remember all those CEO messages about layoffs in 2022 that really missed the mark?
Coaching executive leaders on how to communicate authentically and empathetically without making it all about them is a fine line. But focusing on building this skill will help set your company apart and improve your company culture.
Tip 2: Invest in mobile technology for workplace communication.
Regardless of who you are trying to reach—frontline workers, remote employees, or even office workers—the last few years proved that we need better ways of communicating at work.
Marketing Charts found that 8 in 10 digital minutes are being spent on mobile devices. Why not use that to your advantage?
With over 3.8 billion people owning a smartphone worldwide, it’s a no-brainer to look at a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model for communicating. And this will open up doors to use secure, mobile comms channels.
Tip 3: Treat DEI as a movement not a moment.
But representation still matters. Who you hire matters. Who you give the microphone to matters. Don’t let a focus on DEI be just a moment at your company. Really live and don’t just “check the box.”
This is one of the most important things you can focus on as a company this year. Really improving your company’s diversity will help your culture, team morale, and even performance.
If you are struggling to get your leadership team on board, just remind them that workplaces that are more diverse and inclusive actually perform better. Deloitte research has found that inclusive workplace cultures are:
- 2 times as likely to meet or exceed their financial targets
- 3 times as likely to be high-performing
- 6 times more likely to be innovative and agile
- 8 times more likely to achieve better business outcomes
Tip 4: Elevate employee voices.
There is a wealth of knowledge, ideas, opinions, feedback, and stories in your workforce. Companies that are willing and able to tap into the employee voice, to create feedback loops, and start focus groups, are going to succeed.
And bonus: giving your employees a voice and making them feel heard is a huge secret to improving employee engagement, retention, and productivity. When you are able to share more voices, your people will feel more connected and more understood.
Tip 5: Focus on rebuilding trust with communication.
No matter how you choose to improve communication in the workplace this year, make sure you follow through.
Whether you start a new pulse survey series or make promises about DEI, be prepared to act and deliver change. This is how you avoid worker fatigue.
Although trust in “my employer” is still stronger than other sources, the last few years have been hard for employees. And that has impacted employee trust in their employers—hence the rise in quiet quitting. This makes it even more critical to listen to your teams to figure out what they need and work towards providing that for them.
About the Author
Sydney Lauro is the Demand Generation Manager for theEMPLOYEEapp. Prior to joining the team at theEMPLOYEEapp, Sydney worked in internal communications for Chipotle Mexican Grill. She users her internal comms expertise and passion for improving communication and the employee experience to create content and share best practices to help other communications professionals.
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