A workplace communication strategy can boost employee productivity. Here’s what it is and why it works.
On the surface, employee communication appears deceptively simple. But we all know the struggle of juggling replies to dozens or even hundreds of emails from various departments. Or pages-long Slack chats and awkward group texts.
Poor communication can cause employee engagement to nosedive, upset vendors and customers, and confuse the workforce.
On the flip side, a strategic plan can boost employee engagement and productivity, reduce wasted time, and increase the bottom line. According to a poll by Gallup, a strong employee experience is best defined by clear roles, working with a common mission, and having the right tools or materials to complete a job. All of that deals directly with communication.
But just picking a communicational channel isn’t enough. There needs to be a strategic plan in place to support management and workers.
This means that HR leaders need to find a way to draft an effective internal communication plan that management and staff will actually use.
Far from a company culture buzzword, a workplace communication strategy is the cornerstone of success for any organization. But to be able to design a solid one, we need to define what a communication strategy is.
What is a communication strategy?
To put it simply, a workplace communications strategy is a strategic plan of how employees will communicate with each other and with those outside the organization. Typically, the goal of these strategies is to streamline better communication using tools and company-based protocol.
For example, an internal communications strategy may cover writing memos, using the departmental Slack group, and project leaders. External communication strategies may deal with social media, speaking with the press, negotiating with potential vendors, and other topics dealing with outside contact.
In general, an effective communication strategy should include:
- How and when managers should share information with the workforce
- The company’s tone, style of writing, and content preferences
- Who to include in internal and external communications
- What communication channels are used and how to access them
- Guidelines for key business activities, such as hiring, terminating, exiting employees, discussing benefits, customer outreach
For HR leaders, this means their team will be busy putting together a comprehensive communications plan, distributing it among employees, and answering questions.
How communication strategies link to company goals
Most employees and managers alike may be skeptical about a communications plan. At face value, it won’t appear to affect company goals. But a strong internal communications plan alone can foster engagement and productivity. In fact, 97% of employees believe that communication affects day-to-day operations, and 28% say that poor communication is the reason they failed to meet deadlines.
And the effect of poor communication on the bottom line? It’s significant. Companies with just 100 employees can expect to lose $420,000 annually from miscommunication.
To highlight how a strong internal communication strategy can affect your company goals, it’s critical to collect specific data and highlight the waste and inefficiencies that occur due to miscommunication. Losing talent, loss of productive working hours, and high employee turnover are all consequences of ineffective communication in the workplace.
You may also want to stress the benefits, namely:
- Increased collaboration
- Greater trust
- Higher productivity
- Increased retention
97% of employees believe that communication affects day-to-day operations, and 28% say that poor communication is the reason they failed to meet deadlines.
5 effective communication strategies
There are a few different communication skills every HR professional needs to master to effectively get teams motivated and onboard. Before even delving into the following effective communication strategies listed, make sure that all communication coming from both managers and HR is:
The more employees trust in their leaders, the more likely they will be comfortable in providing feedback and asking questions. Furthermore, they are more likely to be engaged and interested in your internal communications plan.
That said, let’s get to components of workplace communication plans.
What you should include in workplace communication plans
- Communications training. First, it may be worth it to set time and resources aside to train employees on your new communication strategies. Adding a chapter to the employee handbook just won’t be enough. You may want to tailor sections to each department, as not every person will be involved in external communication. But you can offer training on internal content, such as presentations, tools, and protocol.
- One-on-one sessions. Ensure that every employee has a one-on-one session with HR to discuss their specific goals and responsibilities. This can be a good chance to see where breakdowns in communication take place and help individuals find ways to resolve issues.
- Simple task management. A common internal communication tool is a task manager. But it’s tempting to complicate things with extensive kanban boards and customized workflows. Stick to a simple, easy-to-follow workflow and add indicators, like labels for “high priority” items to keep employees on track. You’ll also want to provide a short guide or Loom video on how to use the software.
- Clear hierarchies. All employees should know who to contact with they have a question or need an update. It can be helpful to have a clear and accessible hierarchy guide so employees can quickly tag relevant managers or coworkers.
- Open feedback loops. Every employee should feel like they have a voice. Keeping an internal communication tool for private employee feedback will give all workers a safe space to voice concerns and offer solutions based on their current experience with the new framework. In fact, employees who feel valued are 4.6x more likely to give their best.
Building your communication strategy
Looking to refine your internal communications plan and foster employee engagement? Check out this guide and checklist for our Best Workplace Communications Strategies for a detailed account of effective communication.