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Improve communication in the workplace to grow your business

It’s no secret that poor workplace communication is detrimental to your organization, but just how detrimental may come as a surprise. According to the Worktalk article “Business Costs of Poor Communication and How to Avoid Them,” the estimated cost of employee miscommunication is $62.4 million per year for companies with more than 100,000 employees. Although your business may be much smaller, your company isn’t immune to the financial impact of insufficient communication at work.

In fact, because employees on your staff are, in all likelihood, taking on more varied roles and are pulled in more directions than those at larger organizations, communicating clearly—and in a way that suits your team best—may be even more critical for your small business, particularly in a today’s world of flexible and hybrid work.

 

Why communication is important at work

Effective communication in the workplace is critical to the success of many small businesses. Clear communication between managers and employees is key to accomplishing goals on time and within budget. Positive customer relations, employee productivity and innovation, and a pleasant work environment all rely on your team’s ability to communicate clearly, openly, and in alignment with your business policies. Additionally, fostering an environment that supports effective workplace communication helps improve employee engagement, boost productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and grow your business.

Improving communication in the workplace

Create more meaningful communication between managers and employees

When it comes to effective communication at work, it’s up to business owners and managers to take the lead. A common strategy is to schedule regular meetings, but how do you make every meeting count? First, consider which type of meeting you are planning—brainstorm, discuss and decide, design and create, 1:1 connect, or team building and bonding. Then, design the meeting intentionally to maximize its effectiveness and value.  For example, when planning a “discuss and decide” meeting, make sure that all key stakeholders will be present. Kickoff the meeting by sharing a structured agenda that includes a target length of time for each section. During the meeting, proactively seek out diverse perspectives and be sure to document your decisions along with each person’s responsibilities and action items.

Listening is another essential management skill that goes a long way toward improving communication skills at work. Leaders who prioritize listening are significantly more effective than those who spend more time talking. Listening strategies that help bring out the best in employees include booking regular 1:1 meetings, asking great questions and thoughtful follow-ups, considering nonverbal cues, and showing you care. After all, learning to listen well pays dividends in employee retention, engagement, and happiness. 

Another way to keep employees engaged and happy is to give them the tools they need to do their jobs effectively—and it starts with choosing the right workplace communication technology.

Boost employee productivity with a unified communications system

Make no mistake, technology is a marvelous thing, but it should be chosen, and used, wisely. Instead of having a separate employee intranet, a social intranet, a project management workspace, instant messaging, private chat rooms, email, and video channel for your internal workplace communication, choose a unified communications system (UC) that gives you everything you need in one convenient place. A UC system helps small businesses grow by improving organization, efficiency, and communication between employees and with customers. 

With a UC system, you minimize confusion and improve the odds that your staff will actually use the tools available to them. But which tools are really necessary?

  • Email: Email is one of the best ways to reach people inside and outside of your organization. Just be sure to choose a cloud-based email client. This way, you access your messages from any device, your messages are backed up in the cloud, and your security will always be up to date.
  • Collaborative workspace: With the power to connect via instant messaging and video conferencing, plus the ability to share and work together on files in real time, a secure and effective workspace apphelp your staff collaborate on projects, talk through issues, , and build trust and working relationships that will allow you develop the workplace communication and culture you need to succeed. And because employees do this all via an app on their desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone, it means that you are free to hire the best talent—whether they live nearby or half a world away.
  • Workflow and task management solutions: Staying organized is critical to any organization, but when you’re a small business with a limited staff, priorities might shift quickly, cause confusion, and bring your productivity to a grinding halt. However, workflow and task management software empowers you to develop project plans that help everyone on your team understand what their priorities are, which tasks need to be completed, and when the assignments are due. The software even delivers status updates and allows teammates to share files.

Communicate with staff and ask them what they want and need

Although workplace cultures tend to develop organically, creating a space that’s truly inclusive, collaborative, happy, and productive does take some finessing. Unfortunately, when asked directly, many employees won’t provide thoughtful, honest answers to questions about the workplace—either because they’re concerned about a lack of anonymity or because they simply need time to consider the subject.

To give your employees the space they need to provide you with real, honest answers, use an app that allows you to connect with your staff and gives them the freedom to respond on their schedule. When choosing your app, look for one that allows you to seamlessly schedule employee events, request information from small groups or large teams, and conduct employee surveys and collect responses (anonymous or otherwise) in real time.

Employee surveys and polls have the potential to increase employee engagement and productivity. They help you understand your employees’ needs and get a different view of the internal workings of your company, including unseen barriers to productivity or employee satisfaction. Surveys also help you gather information that could impact your decisions about how to grow your business.   A few tips to run an effective survey include setting an objective, writing clear and concise questions, and keeping the survey short and focused. By allowing you to communicate with your team, find out how your employees feel about your company, and tell you what they need, these communication tools help create a culture where everyone feels welcome and valued.

Effective communication in the workplace examples

Effective communication skills are taught in colleges and executive seminars, but they’re likely long forgotten by the time you’ve either graduated or headed back to the office into “real world” work. And although there are many ways to improve communication skills at work, the best ones are often the simplest. Remember to:

  • Keep your messages clear, use plain language, and stay away from jargon. Although your employees may be familiar with jargon, it still impedes understanding.
  • Meet your team where they are. If your own data shows that your staff interacts the most with traditional written or video messages sent via email, do that. If a survey reveals they prefer in-person or live streaming meetings for big announcements, use them. After all, staying in touch with your employees and delivering information in a way that ensures they’ll receive and understand it is critical. It’s also a time saver.
  • Follow an executive communication plan template for big internal announcements, important company news, or other significant messages like changes to benefits. This helps ensure that your message is clear and includes all the pertinent information. In addition, once your message is complete, have someone you trust and who has great communication skills provide editorial oversight.
  • Augment words with visuals for effective communication. In short, a picture is worth a thousand words. According to “Polishing Your Presentation,” and article by the 3M Visual System Division, “We can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.” So whenever you provide your employees with a picture, chart, graph, video, infographic, or another visual example of what you want to achieve, it will help improve their comprehension.

The importance of workplace communication

There is, of course, no one-size-fits-all approach for how to improve communication and engagement among your staff, but by implementing new technology and a new approach to business communication, you help avoid misunderstandings, mitigate rumors, and save time. Implementing effective communication strategies in the workplace empowers you to:

  • Improve how your team works. Teamwork relies on communication and collaboration, especially in today’s world of hybrid work. High-performing teams thrive when connecting is natural and easy, wherever they’re located. When you improve your team’s communication skills at work, you improve how things get done in your business.
  • Increase employee satisfaction. Better communication alleviates workplace stress by helping ensure that everyone is on the same page. Effective online communication also boosts employee retention. For example, setting clear expectations in writing, creating guidelines for email, and following a process for coaching team members helps keep the best employees happy and businesses running smoothly.

After all, open, frequent, and clear communication has the power to transform your business. Your employees are a valuable source of insight into your customers’ needs and innovative solutions to your business challenges. When you raise the bar on communicating with and listening to your employees, you raise their level of engagement with your company, which helps grow your bottom line.

FAQs

What is proper workplace communication?

Proper workplace communication is clear, open, and in alignment with the company’s business policies. Managers lead by listening, make meetings count, stay in touch with their employees, and deliver information in a way that ensures they’ll receive and understand it. Employees are comfortable letting management know what they want and need to do their best work, often using an app to give their opinions by completing employee surveys and polls.

What is the most effective communication in the workplace?

The most effective communication in the workplace combines leadership, great communication skills, and the right technology. A unified communications system that makes is easy for employees to switch seamlessly between communication tools is especially important to help small businesses grow—by improving organization, efficiency, and communication between employees and with customers.

What are tips for effective communication?

Tips for effective communication are: making meetings count, leading by listening, using a unified communications solution instead of multiple platforms, surveying employees to get their honest opinions, keeping your messages clear, staying in touch with your team and delivering information in a way that ensures they’ll receive and understand it, and using visuals whenever possible to improve comprehension.

What types of communication are important in the workplace?

Open, frequent, and clear communication with employees is important in the workplace and has the power to transform your business. Employee surveys and polls play a vital role in understanding your employees’ needs, increasing employee productivity and satisfaction, and improving decision-making to help you grow your business.

How do you improve your workplace communication?

Improving listening skills, making meetings count, and surveying employees for honest feedback are all effective ways to improve your workplace communication. Implementing a unified communications system, instead of multiple, separate solutions, makes it easier for for employees to stay connected and helps small businesses grow by improving organization, efficiency, and customer communications.

 

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