Tom Gibby is the co-founder and CMO of employee experience technology company, The bot platform.
It’s 2022 and a lot has changed in recent years. We are all inhabitants of the digital age, where communication systems have never been so advanced and the flow of information has never been easier. Yet many of us still feel disconnected at work.
Many large companies may feel that their internal communication process runs smoothly because they pay for communication tools. But many don’t even scratch the surface of what’s needed or don’t fully use the tools. This can ultimately have a negative effect on employee satisfaction and productivity.
With the spirit of the Great Surrender still hanging around, we need to make sure we learn the lessons of the last exodus. Therefore, improving communication will be paramount.
Companies are approaching internal communication the wrong way
According to Dynamic Signal’s Annual survey into employee communication and engagement, more and more people are leaving their jobs due to stress caused by poor communication. So why do so many large companies fail to deliver adequate internal communication systems?
A typical reason stems from the nature of the corporate hierarchy itself. Heirarchies often lead to a seepage of information from above because communication is treated as a one-way street. The leadership communication mindset is more often, “What do we want to tell the workforce?” as opposed to “What do the staff want to hear from us?”
This bulletin communication style is good for letting employees know limited and general information, such as training reminders or server downtimes. But the most successful companies understand the importance of two-way communication. They know that when employees are engaged and feel supported, they give their best and generally stay with the company longer.
The negative effects of poor internal communication
When companies struggle with internal communication, it can have major financial consequences. Communications consultant David Grossman reported that in a survey of 400 companies, there was: an average loss of $62.4 million per year per company due to poor communication to and between employees. Businesses need to ensure that they cover all communication needs and that communication is interactive, not just transactional.
As companies scale and hire more people, they may struggle to scale their internal communications at the same rate. Particularly with remote teams, there is a danger that growing departments work in silos and lack visibility or connectivity across the company. This can be harmful in the long run because cooperation can be hindered. People may begin to feel isolated or unaware of wider business initiatives and conversations, which can affect their satisfaction and productivity. If left unchecked, it could lead to layoffs and possible layoffs.
In addition, the lack of a reliable communication system can be costly. A lack of effective communication systems can reduce productivity and thus profits. McKinsey Global Institute found that when companies have good interconnectivity and embrace social technologies, productivity improves by 20%-25%. Essentially, good communication makes employees feel more involved and heard.
The benefits of good internal communication
The benefits of an efficient and effective communication system span large parts of the business. Improved communication systems can directly lead to:
• More effective teamwork
• Increase morale and engagement
• Better informed staff
• More innovation
• Improved company culture (people feel connected to a greater whole)
Encouraging linear (employee to company and company to employee) and lateral (employee to employee) communication also encourages innovation because ideas can be more easily shared. It is important to remember that even if an employee’s suggestion cannot be followed, people simply feel heard and an environment of free-flowing ideas is fostered.
If companies can focus on these areas, they are on their way to increasing engagement and productivity and ultimately improving their bottom line. So it pays not to underestimate the importance of corporate communication, especially in a growing company.
How to improve internal communication systems?
An essential aspect of effective internal communication collects and uses feedback from employees. When companies listen to their employees, they gain insight into what is happening in practice. This interactional communication can help prevent micromanagement, miscommunication and disillusionment. As a result, leadership is better able to solve problems, support staff and make more effective business decisions.
The delay in communication is another bug among the staff and a surefire way to hurt engagement. Not involving or consulting large parts of the company in decision-making can sour the employee experience. Making corporate communications a priority, rather than an afterthought, for directors and managers is a great way to increase productivity and is a great example of true empathetic leadership.
When sending a work message, two essential aspects are often overlooked: simplicity and relevance. Complicated messages can disrupt a workday. Providing a message that is clear, direct, and well contextualized definitely drives productivity. More relevant communication also increases the likelihood that your staff will value the communication they see and are more likely to share it. Essentially, good communication from engaged employees can make brand advocates and boost the business and attract top talent.
As playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it happened.” Now is the time to make sure communication doesn’t just happen, but takes place to the best of a company’s ability.