Employee communication is key for any business to function and develop. It is the way in which staff members interact, exchange information and collaborate with each other. Effective communication supports businesses in the following ways:
- Helps You Reach Business Objectives: Using employee communication effectively is incremental to reaching business objectives and creating a healthy organisational culture.
- Creates a Trusting Environment: When there is a lack of communication or an inability to communicate clearly, this can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes. It can also create an environment of mistrust, which is detrimental to any productive workplace.
- Improves Relationships: Good communication helps to foster better relationships between employees and management, as well as among co-workers. This leads to a more open atmosphere where individuals feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions, collaborating on tasks and finding solutions to problems.
- Improves Efficiency: Good communication also helps to create a productive working environment as employees are able to work together more effectively and efficiently. This can lead to better performance, increased morale among workers and improved customer service.
- Higher Retention Rates: Good communication may result in higher employee retention rates, as employees who feel their opinions are valued are more likely to stay with the organisation for the long term.
Why is communication important in the workplace?
According to Dewhurst and Fitzpatrick (2019), effective employee communication in the workplace brings added value in these four domains:
- Operating effective systems: A good employee communication strategy will ensure the organisation is operating effective systems to reach everyone and align employees behind clear vision and objectives, capture feedback and overall job satisfaction, and, crucially, make things happen.
- Drive outcomes: Impactful communication also drives outcomes by spreading knowledge and shaping behaviours and positive attitudes, minimising resistance to change or new initiatives, building confidence and reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.
- Supports leaders and key players: Communication professionals understand the audience better than anyone else, and as such, they can act as advisers and support leaders with their goals through effective communication.
- Contribute to the growth of intangible assets: Communication plays an essential role in building employee engagement, boosting morale and promoting a positive culture or brand. A good communication strategy will effectively integrate external reputation and brand with employee understanding, beliefs, and behaviours.
What are effective communication channels in the workplace?
Communication channels in the workplace refer to the various methods or mediums through which information is transmitted and shared among individuals or groups. These channels can vary in terms of their speed, formality, richness of communication, and the types of messages they convey. Examples of communication channels include:
- Face-to-Face Communication: Allows for immediate feedback, nonverbal cues, and a high level of richness in communication. It is ideal for complex or sensitive discussions, team meetings, presentations, or brainstorming sessions.
- Written Communication: Includes emails, memos, reports, newsletters, and other written documents. Written communication provides a record of the message, can be easily shared and stored, and allows for careful crafting of the message. However, it lacks immediate feedback and nonverbal cues.
- Video Conferencing: Allows individuals or groups in different locations to have face-to-face interactions. It enables real-time communication, nonverbal cues, and visual collaboration. Video conferencing is beneficial for remote teams, virtual meetings, and discussions that require visual aids or demonstrations.
- Instant Messaging and Chat: Real-time text-based communication. Instant messaging offers immediate responses to quick questions, fosters quick information sharing and enables effective team collaboration, but it may lack the richness of face-to-face communication.
- Intranet and Internal Websites: Centralised platforms for sharing information within an organisation. They allow for the dissemination of announcements, policies, procedures, and other important documents. Intranets can also facilitate collaboration through discussion forums, document sharing, and employee directories.
- Team Collaboration Tools: Collaboration tools like project management software, shared document platforms, and virtual whiteboards enable teams to work together on projects, share information, and track progress. These tools enhance teamwork, foster transparency, and promote efficient communication among team members.
- Notice Boards, SMART screens and Posters: They are useful for conveying messages to a large number of people in a centralised location.
- Social Media: can be used to share updates, news, or engage in conversations. They offer the advantage of reaching a wide audience and encouraging interaction.
How do you choose the right communication channels for your organisation?
To choose the right combination of channels for your organisation or project, it is important to consider:
- What you are trying to achieve? – It would be beneficial to consider how you unify practices across the organisation, or what your communication aims are. Spreading knowledge and encouraging interaction may require different, complementary channels.
- Who you will communicate with? – Consider the volume of your messages such as, are you addressing the entire organisation, or only a small group of people? Also, consider the audience’s current attitude towards the topic you are trying to communicate and consider the most appropriate tone for this specific group of people.
- What’s your organisation’s style and culture: Organisational culture establishes communication norms that guide how employees communicate with one another. These norms can include expectations around responsiveness, tone, formality, and frequency of communication. For instance, a culture that values efficiency and speed may encourage the use of instant messaging or other real-time communication tools. A culture that promotes trust and psychological safety creates an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions.
How do you support employees through transitions?
If you are trying to change things for the better in your workplace, you may have a few doubts about which strategies to use, or you could feel that change may not be accepted within your team.
It is important to communicate openly with clear objectives to your team and to keep them updated with new targets and changes as they arise to avoid miscommunication, misalignment, and resistance to change.
It is also important to understand the likely impact of change on your team and to ensure that they are given support through any transition period.
The first step to developing a good change communication plan is stakeholder mapping and change impact analysis:
- Who is affected by the change?
- What is their influence on the project’s success?
- What change will they experience?
- What is their anticipated reaction to change?
- What do we want them to know, feel, and do?
As highlighted by Dewhurst and Fitzpatrick (2019: 165), this mapping exercise helps classify stakeholders into 5 categories:
- Sponsors – people who need to make this project a success
- Champions or change agents – people who will drive the project forward
- Promoters – friends whose enthusiasm will be helpful
- Detractors – people who may resist change
It is then possible to establish an effective stakeholder engagement strategy and design a communication plan accordingly.
6 steps to effectively change communications in the workplace
- Establish a clear communication plan: Outline the main objectives of the change, set expectations for how and when communication should take place, and identify the stakeholders who need to be included in the process.
- Develop a stakeholder mapping strategy: Understand who is affected by the change and what their influence is on the success of the project.
- Engage stakeholders: Communicate with stakeholders early and often to ensure they understand and are prepared for the changes taking place.
- Create an open dialogue: Encourage an open dialogue between managers, employees, and other stakeholders to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard during the process ensuring that you appear approachable.
- Monitor progress: Monitor progress throughout the transition period and adjust communication plans as needed.
- Evaluate outcomes: Evaluate the outcomes of the change of communication to identify potential areas of improvement for future initiatives.
Soraya is a Change Management Expert with over 9 years of proven success in driving organisational transformation and enhancing employee engagement. Soraya combines her culture & change management expertise with her training in graphic facilitation and film and media production to create tailored solutions for her clients. Her passion is bringing joy and excitement to the workplace by creating fun, creative and engaging employee experiences.