Workplace communication is the exchanging of information and ideas within an organization. Effective workplace communication is when this information is sent and received accurately and is central to all business goals. 97 percent of workers believe that communication impacts tasks every day. Poor communication can lead to missed project deadlines, lower employee engagement, and a lack of confidence across the organization.
It is vital to create a positive communication strategy that will help to grow an organization by making employees feel valued, informed, and comfortable to speak openly and to connect with one another.
Why is Communication in the Workplace Important?
Effective communication in the workplace is crucial for all organizations, large and small. A strong communications strategy utilizes techniques that encourage teamwork, open communication, and constructive feedback.
Miscommunication in the workplace can result in all sorts of problems, whether it causes project delays, unnecessary meetings, or confused co-workers, just one miscommunication can be costly. In fact, recent studies state that miscommunication costs companies with 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.
Developing communication skills across an organization can avoid confusion, create accountability for employees and build a positive company culture.
3 benefits to effective communication in the workplace:
1. Improved Employee Engagement
Effective communication makes team members feel connected -- to one another, to their work, and to the organization they are working for. This sense of connection increases employee engagement and improves morale which in turn, leads to reduced turnover and higher profits.
2. Increased Productivity
Poor workplace communication leads to inefficiency and mistakes. 28 percent of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time. Once a communication strategy is in place, instructions and expectations can be defined clearly and data can be shared with ease, leading to better results and an increase in productivity.
An environment of open communication in the workplace creates space for innovation as it encourages creative problem solving and thinking outside the box. Fostering a non-judgmental culture where ‘no idea is a bad idea’ means employees feel empowered to develop new processes and try new things.
4 Strategies to Improve Communication in the Workplace
Through open communication and effective collaboration an organization can build a team of employees who are engaged, productive, and innovative. The following strategies provide diverse opportunities for both formal and informal communication across an organization.
1. Facilitate Communication in the Workplace with Technology
Whether an organization has teams that work together in person or primarily remote workers, providing the right tools should be a crucial part of its communication strategy. Communication tools are digital solutions that allow teams to collaborate quickly and easily and perform at a more productive rate. There are a variety of tools on the market that serve different purposes including instant messaging, video calls, task management, and project management.
Giving employees more opportunities to connect makes it easier to create an open environment where team members can share ideas and follow up with each other proactively. With the right communication platforms employees can consistently monitor progress in real-time and make sure tasks and projects are running well.
Online communication in the workplace is also important for team building. For example, team chat platforms not only mean team members can get answers to questions quickly, but they provide a channel for employees to interact on a more informal basis to develop professional and personal relationships.
There are a large number of tools available, so it is important for an organization to research the best options to suit the size, location, and daily tasks of the workforce. Free trials are often available for monetized platforms.
2. Create a Culture of Openness
Employees who feel their voice is heard in the workplace are almost five times more likely (4.6x) to feel empowered to deliver their best work. That is why it is so important to cultivate an open environment and build free-flowing workplace communication into the fabric of the company culture.
Creating a non-judgmental culture where employees are confident to speak honestly about what is working and where improvements can be made is not always easy. It is best achieved from the top down so management can lead by example and promote openness and accountability.
Team leaders can create a culture of openness by:
- Setting expectations at the beginning of meetings that all ideas are welcome, and attendees should not be afraid to ask questions
- Encouraging inclusive brainstorming sessions
- Consistently giving and asking for honest, constructive feedback and being receptive to it
3. Be Specific
When tasks are completed incorrectly or not at the right speed it can lead to project delays and inefficiency. This can frustrate both management and team members. According to the statistics, 57 percent of employees report not being given clear directions and 69 percent of managers are not comfortable communicating with their employees in general.
Clear communication in the workplace is essential to reduce mistakes and ensure that employees fully understand the work they have been asked to do. It is important that team leaders who are assigning tasks get specific. All parties should grasp what needs to be done, when it should be completed, how it should be executed, and how the task should add to the larger project or long-term goals of the organization.
By training managers to give specific instructions and to explain what they need and how it should be done, especially if there are specialized processes involved, they will experience fewer disappointments and need to fix fewer mistakes. Employees should also be encouraged to request the details they need, and their questions should be met with positivity.
There are various project management tools that can help with these processes by clearly defining tasks, assigning them to specific team members, and asking them to check them off when they are completed or need review. This means everyone involved has a clear view of how the project is progressing and where focus might need to be directed.
4. Celebrate Achievements and Milestones
It is important that feedback does not only flow one way within an organization. Effective communication in the workplace should include feedback that makes the company better and that helps employees learn and grow. That is why celebrating achievements and milestones is vital on both individual and team levels, across the organization.
Everyone likes to hear they are doing a good job. It improves employee morale and reinforces good work practices. When you celebrate an individual, it can make them feel proud of their performance and encourages them to continue to perform above and beyond. Celebrating the work of a team reinforces shared goals and creates bonds that improve team connection.
It is possible to celebrate these milestones in both formal and informal ways and it is good to encourage team leaders to think outside the box. For smaller wins, acknowledging them in a team meeting or via team chat can work well. For larger achievements, these can be recognized when employees of the organization are all together (for example at a quarterly review or on a team building exercise).
In any organization, it is important to develop a healthy and beneficial communication strategy for all employees. Effective communication in the workplace is the key to achieving long-term success.