Open communication in the workplace means people can communicate honestly, transparently, and clearly — and without fear.
How open is the communication in your organization? When it comes to accomplishing tasks and keeping clients and employees happy, communication is essential — specifically open communication. Open communication in the workplace goes well beyond the concept of the “open door policy.” Just because a door is open, that doesn’t mean that the person entering the office — or the person in the office — will communicate effectively or openly.
What is open communication? If you’re not sure, examine your company culture. Are the employees happy? Is the work getting done? Or do you hear a lot of snide remarks or sarcasm? Do you see a lot of employees with frowns, crossed arms, or other signs of hostile body language?
Open communication involves the free flow of thoughts and ideas without judgment. A workplace that thrives on open communication is a place where employees can communicate honestly, transparently, and clearly — without fear of passive-aggressive or active verbal, email, or text attacks.
The benefits of open communication
when team members openly communicate, the entire team’s productivity can rise by as much as 25%,
According to Pumble, when team members openly communicate, the entire team’s productivity can rise by as much as 25%. This is because open communication improves team building. It helps employees to understand the task at hand, as well as the end goal.
When you encourage communication, you promote idea sharing and, ultimately, you improve business success. You become better able to handle problems as they arise, and you are better at implementing innovative ideas, as well. Open, effective communication can help improve your company culture, encourage employee input, and facilitate idea sharing.
There are other benefits, too:
- Communication in the workplace encourages and improves employee engagement while ensuring that all employees’ thoughts are heard.
- It reduces ineffective communication by reducing conflicts and misunderstandings.
- Open and honest communication helps with the ability to recognize issues before they become problems.
- It encourages equal participation — and it creates a space in which employees feel confident that their opinions matter and that they can share them freely.
- It encourages positive communication, and it helps create an atmosphere of trust.
- Employee satisfaction and retention improve because everyone knows that their ideas will be given serious consideration. Employees understand that not every idea will be used, but each one will have a fair shot.
How to foster open communication in your workplace to improve business success
You can’t leave it to chance. Make sure that your business encourages open communication between employees and among departments. You may need to create a formal open communication policy and put it into practice. This works best if the information is spearheaded and modeled by HR and the management staff, and if it is carefully distributed to all employees.
Initiate an open door policy to improve communication
Creating an open door policy is the 1st step toward improving communication in your workplace, but it must be effective. Open door policies must include more than just leaving the office door open. Employees and their managers need to feel that the communication is going both ways. All of the participants in the conversation need to feel that they are able to speak freely and that they are being both heard and listened to.
If needed, you can create a training program to address issues like hostile body language or passive-aggressive statements. Also, you can teach employees and managers to go beyond buzzwords and corporate-speak and to fully explain their ideas and their thoughts in easily-understood terms, with honesty and transparency.
Employees and their managers need to feel that the communication is going both ways. All of the participants in the conversation need to feel that they are able to speak freely and that they are being both heard and listened to.
Host town hall meetings
If you have something to share that involves every employee at your business, consider hosting an in-person or virtual town hall or an event for team building. Town hall meetings are great for sharing company-wide reports and for announcing changes and innovations. During these team-building meetings, you might have more than one presenter or facilitator. And at the end of your company-wide meeting, encourage participants to ask questions and to voice their thoughts and opinions.
Create a program that recognizes and rewards employees for offering solutions to problems
Encourage employees to offer solutions and innovations to problems by implementing a program that rewards them for sharing new ideas. To help facilitate this, you can create an online suggestion center that allows employees to give feedback and to offer solutions to problems. You can also encourage managers to keep track of employees who offer ideas, so that they can be rewarded. Just make sure to offer a variety of incentives. Options might include gym memberships, public recognition, bonuses, cafeteria or fast food vouchers, gas cards, or small electronic devices.
Identify team leaders who can facilitate feedback among their peers
Look throughout your organization for effective team leaders who are good at providing both positive and critical feedback. These are the leaders who are great at communicating honestly. They:
- Are not afraid to say “I don’t know” and then to research a solution
- Excel at innovation
- Take responsibility
- Are decisive
- Help keep their teams motivated
- Are great at relationship building
Once you find them, you can speak with them to determine what makes their communication work. Then you can implement a training program for your other team leaders to get them up to speed.
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An essential element
The importance of open communication in the workplace cannot be overstated. To help you facilitate open communication in your workplace, check out our printable communication checklist and read about the 5 myths that may be hurting communication.
For more information on communication, take a look at Zenefit’s Workest communication articles. You just may find that implementing a few of these ideas will promote engagement and will improve your business success.