Workplace communication is too important to leave to chance. Learn about tools and techniques that will help grow your business.
Intent on taking your business to new heights with increased productivity, profitability and company morale? Developing effective workplace communication could be your key to success.
Poor communication is estimated to cost large companies $62.4 million a year, according to author and communications consultant David Grossman. How’s that for an internal enemy? Ineffective communication wastes time. And if time is money … well, you get the picture.
The good news: Taking steps to promote good communication skills among managers, employees and others will get you far. Fortunately this route is marked by such common-sense tactics as ensuring that people are saying what they mean and actively listening to one another; promoting face-to-face communication, phone and video calls; and teaching about such non-verbal cues as facial expression and body language as well as proper verbal and digital communication techniques. (On the last point, we all must ask if each email and text message is absolutely necessary.)
If this territory rings familiar but your next step’s unclear, we’ll help chart your course.
Poor communication is estimated to cost large companies $62.4 million a year.
Benefits of effective communication
If your business suffers from poor communication, you’re likely to experience decreased implementation of your business strategy for growth. Typically, employees will demonstrate low morale, and communication channels between employees, departments, and managers will go underutilized. This translates to lost revenue and the potential for a toxic workplace culture. But if you act now to improve workplace communication and implement effective communication tools, you might see improvements evolving companywide. Typically these include:
- A more focused, productive and even creative workplace environment, as brain-drain and bottlenecks caused by misunderstandings cease to impede workflow
- Increased productivity leading to completed objectives and happy customers
- Increased employee retention
- Engaged employees with high energy and morale
- Attentive and engaged management
- Improved team building
Employ the right communication tools
When it comes to improving communication in the workplace, a two-pronged approach that includes teaching and implementing the right communication tools can make a difference. Consider these statistics on communication problems from RingCenter:
- 69% of employees and managers have trouble communicating in general.
- 37% don’t want to give negative feedback or criticism.
- 19% struggle with giving clear directions.
Let’s take a look at some tools that can help improve communication style and effectiveness.
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HR communication tools
When seeking to implement the most appropriate communication tools, HR can be a big help. A good human resources team can help distribute communication policies if the company doesn’t have an internal communications department. HR pros can help train employees on effective written and verbal communication techniques. They also can implement train-the-trainer initiatives that help managers, supervisors and executives to effectively communicate.
Texting is great for short messages and/or quick collaboration, and it’s not only for phones. It’s also available on social-media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Some lack the security that businesses need. For that, dedicated platforms provide secure messaging apps. These include Cisco Webex, Flock, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral and Slack. Most of them also provide video messaging, online meeting software, file sharing and data encryption.
Email’s great for longer messages that don’t require much conversation or an immediate response. Email-management software — like Microsoft Outlook, Sendinblue, and Zoho Mail — can help keep email organized with custom inboxes. Some solutions allow employees to link different email accounts to the platform so they don’t have to switch apps to view them all.
No, they’re not outdated. For lengthy communication and that which requires a lot of real-time interaction, phone calls are still ideal. Phone calls also allow participants to hear voice inflection, which is useful information.
Video conferencing enables workplace meetings without everyone needing to be in the same room. This works well for companies employing in-office, at-home, and even international workers. Be sure to schedule a time that works for everyone and create a meeting agenda prior to the conference call. Popular video conferencing software includes Cisco Webex, RingCentral, Google Meetings and Zoom.
This works well when everyone is in the same building. It can be formal, as in a meeting, or informal, as in passing someone in the hall and remembering to ask him a question or get her input on a project. This communication may be the most effective, allowing for recognition of facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.
Productivity and collaboration software
Teamwork solutions, such as Zenkit, enable project planning and more — with features such as information dissemination and an all-in-one collaboration platform. It’s designed to help businesses manage and complete projects, break larger projects into tasks, and facilitate chat and video conferencing among team members and departments to bring all in sync getting projects completed.
Project management tools
Project management and workflow tools are rising in popularity. Asana is one that offers user-friendly tools in free and paid plans.
Tips to improve workplace communication
Effective communication can help create engaged employees who are excited to come to work. That, in turn, reduces missed days, improves employee productivity, and increases business profitability.
Implementing the right communication tool at the right time can boost team communication and streamline productivity, but it’s also important to know how and when to communicate what. These communication tips can help turn a not-so-great communicator into an effective one who can quickly and efficiently explain ideas to individuals and teams while listening to others’ input. Effective communicators help form the best plans for completing tasks and projects in a timely manner.
Here are tips for effective communication:
- Model a company culture of good communication by asking and answering questions with a respectful, no-blame tone, genuine interest, and a clear intent to improve clarity surrounding strategic goals. Encourage communication by heeding the adage that “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.”
- Provide detailed, actionable instructions on tasks and projects to ensure that assignments and assignees are clear.
- Establish objectives in clear and concise, easy-to-understand language.
- Eliminate workplace gossip to avoid creating a toxic workplace environment.
- Listen first, talk second. Receive information with an open, objective mind.
- Schedule regular meetings for projects.
- Survey employees to learn what’s working, what’s not and what to do about it.
Effective communication can help create engaged employees who are excited to come to work. That, in turn, reduces missed days, improves employee productivity, and increases business profitability. It can also improve team collaboration efforts and improve workplace communication overall.
To help your employees communicate effectively, Zenefits created a printable workplace communication checklist. Let it help you improve your people operations, facilitate better customer interactions, and change management best practices.