A workplace communication strategy can boost employee productivity. Here’s what it is and why it works.
On the surface, having strong internal communication in your workplace appears deceptively simple. All you have to do to facilitate open communication is to listen, to analyze, and then, to respond in a meaningful fashion. Right? Afraid not. Managers who use effective communication strategies in the workplace position their companies to get good results. It’s not something you can leave to chance.
Poor communication can cause employee engagement to nosedive, upset vendors and customers, and confuse and demoralize your workforce. To achieve effective communication, a company should develop a strategic plan. HR leaders can help draft an effective internal communication plan that management and staff will actually use.
Far from being just 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 an open communication strategy?
To put it simply, a workplace communications strategy is a strategic plan that describes 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, some internal communications strategies might cover how to write a company memo, how to use the departmental Slack group, and what the communications responsibilities of project leaders are. External communication strategies, on the other hand, might deal with social media, speaking with the press, negotiating with potential vendors, and other topics that deal 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, and 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 the right communication methods contribute to an improved company culture
It’s true. Most employees and managers alike might be skeptical about a communications plan that addresses something that appears to be as simple as communicating face to face, including verbal and nonverbal communication, and developing better communication methods through targeted training in communication skills and being mindful.
Taken together, these may seem like elementary topics that, if improved, won’t affect company goals, improve employee morale, or create a positive work environment. But that’s not the case. We all need reminders of how to behave. A strong internal communications plan, adopted throughout an organization, can foster both employee engagement and overall productivity. In fact, according to Plumble, effective team communication can increase productivity by as much as 25 percent.
And (good heavens) what’s the effect of poor communication on the bottom line? It’s significant. Plumble also reports that companies with just 100 employees can expect to lose $420,000 annually from miscommunication.
So it behooves each of us to consider how best to develop a strong internal communication strategy for our business. Ineffective communication can affect your company goals, causing a loss in talent, a loss in productive working hours, and high employee turnover. But a strong workplace communication strategy can generate:
- Increased collaboration
- Greater trust
- Higher productivity
- Growth in employee retention
- Fewer workplace problems
- An improved company culture
- An increase in collaboration
- Strengthened employee morale
5 effective communication methods to improve your workplace environment
Every HR professional needs to master several communication skills to effectively get teams motivated and onboard. However, the starting point is to make sure that all communication coming from both managers and HR is:
The more employees trust in their leaders, the more likely they are to be comfortable providing feedback and asking questions. Furthermore, employees who trust your messages are more likely to be engaged and interested in your internal communications plan.
Trust is something that you earn from your company’s employees. Here are some ways to generate it.
First, it may be worth it to set aside time and resources to train employees on your company’s new internal and external communication strategies. Simply adding a chapter to the employee handbook won’t be enough. You’ll want to tailor sections to each department specifically, since not every employee or team will be involved in external communication. But you’ll be amazed at how much stronger you can make your company’s internal communication – written, verbal, and even nonverbal communication (simple facial expressions and gestures) – by offering training on netiquette, presentations, tools, and protocol.
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 are taking place and to help individuals find ways to resolve issues.
Simple task management
A common internal communication tool is a task manager. Yes, it’s a strong tool, but it can be all too tempting to try to communicate 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.
All employees should know who to contact when 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 their voice is heard. Keeping an internal communication tool for private employee feedback will give all workers a safe space where they can not only voice concerns but also share ideas based on their experience with the new framework. It’s been proven: Employees who feel valued and who receive active feedback are more engaged. In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, 84% of employees who consider themselves “engaged” report that they receive meaningful feedback at least once a week. In fact, employees who feel valued are 4.6 times 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 ways to turn your employees into effective communicators.
By implementing these techniques, you will open communication channels between coworkers and management, you’ll increase productivity, you’ll improve the effectiveness of both formal two-way communication channels and informal one-on-one meetings, and you’ll help to foster a positive work environment.