“The alarming cost of poor employee communications…”
“Businesses bleeding money due to ineffective workplace comms…”
“Billions down the drain because companies don’t teach employees how to communicate…”
When you type in “workplace communication” into Google, these are the types of headlines that pop right up.
Now, you were probably aware that communication problems between employees - and within organisations - cost money. You’ve seen these problems impact your organisation, which is why you’re doing your best to keep them to a minimum.
But, what you most likely didn’t know is that, on a global scale, we’re talking serious money here - as in “the-GDP-of-a-small-nation” serious.
According to research done by The Holmes Report, the price that companies globally pay for poor workplace communication is a mind-boggling $37 BILLION every year. To put things in perspective, Latvia’s GDP is $35 billion.
Is it possible that an occasional missed email or a delay on a project can end up costing that much money?
Well, it turns out that it is.
Ultimately, poor workplace communication is not at all about that one email you forgot to send to your coworker. It’s not even about a handful of employees who missed the memo about using Slack and are now out of the loop on everything.
Poor communication in business organisations is about disorganisation, duplicating workloads, and everybody not pulling in the same direction, and it invariably leads to:
- Decreased productivity - on average, employees spend 2 hours and 21 minutes every day hunting down information and coworkers.
- Lack of motivation - 70% of US employees come to work consciously not giving it their 100% because they don’t understand strategic company goals or the role they play in achieving them.
- Reduced employee buy-in into advocacy initiatives - when employees are kept in the dark, they’re less than willing to go the extra mile to promote the brand on social media, which means that companies are not tapping into new revenue streams.
In this post, we share 5 actionable tips that will help you improve overall employee communication in your organisation. These tips will help you improve workplace conversations and stave off revenue loss that often comes hand in hand with poor internal comms.
Design Your Onboarding Process With Comms in Mind
If you’re really serious about improving employee communication in your company, you have to start at the very beginning, and that means reevaluating and improving your onboarding process.
Without having a firm handle on this, you could be wasting both time and money you’ve invested weeding the proverbial chaff from the wheat.
Great Hire + Poor Onboarding = Failed Employee
If you design this process correctly, not only will you set the employee up for success, but you will also show them that your core company values are open communication, transparency, and working towards a common goal that’s clearly communicated to everyone in the organisation.
Here are a couple of things that you can do to get your new employees off to a good start.
- Assign a mentor to all new hires - this is someone who knows the ropes and can answer questions and provide on-the-job training if/when needed. Mentors should have some free time built into their workday to be able to devote enough attention to the new hire.
- Require managers and supervisors to spend time with new employees - for the first couple of weeks, make sure that direct supervisors have weekly sit-downs with the new hire. That way, they can quickly notice if the employee is adjusting well, and they can start forming a deeper connection that will contribute to better work outcomes.
- Make internal documentation & knowledge easily accessible - don’t let new hires drown in mountains of documentation that they need to absorb. Create learning modules that tackle specific policies and aspects of the job, and try to gamify the experience so that new employees are excited to participate and don’t feel overwhelmed.
Encourage bonding activities with coworkers - stepping into a new role is difficult enough without feeling like you’re surrounded by complete strangers. Make sure that your managers are doing everything they can to help new employees meet and bond with their colleagues - things like organising a “welcome to the team” meeting and team drinks after work will do the trick.
Train Your Managers to Communicate Openly, Effectively & Consistently
Take a moment and observe the various manager-employee communication styles in your organisation.
What you will notice is that some managers talk with their employees more, connect better on a level that goes beyond the professional, and express genuine interest in people. Those managers tend to run better-performing teams so, naturally, you’d want everyone in your organisation operating on that high level.
Unfortunately, you don’t get there by simply tweaking your managerial policies. You will need to train your managers in the art of truly communicating with their direct reports.
In their book “5 Conversations - How to Transform Trust, Engagement and Performance at Work”, Cowley and Purse argue that, in order to really have everyone on the same page and drive employee engagement, managers need to excel at five types of situation-specific conversations.
Those conversations revolve around:
- Establishing a trusting relationship - connecting on a level that’s more personal, and involves creating an atmosphere where ideas, beliefs and values can be safely shared.
- Agreeing on mutual expectations - talking about long-term goals and how they can both support one another in achieving them. Involves managers clearly communicating company strategy, and employees actively buying into it.
- Showing genuine appreciation - sitting down with employees to let them know where and how their contribution is helping the company achieve its goals.
- Challenging unhelpful behaviour - figuring out which employee behaviours are unhelpful for the team and the organisation, finding out why they are persistently surfacing, and having an open conversation with an employee to help them change.
- Building for the future - identifying where the employee wants to be in five-years-time, and creating a workable plan that will get them there.
These conversations all require managers to be excellent communicators - a skill that can be learned and then transferred to all employees through careful and tailored training. But, they also require a certain degree of organisational transparency - managers need to know strategic information in order to pass it on to employees so that they can work on expectations and goal-setting together. It’s an exercise in working on and improving organisational communication on all levels every day of the work week.
Collect Employee Feedback Anonymously
Let’s face it - not all communication is positive, and that’s okay.
While some employees don’t have a problem with difficult conversations with managers and colleagues, most of us are still uncomfortable with those and we’ll rather keep quiet than risk a conflict. This can be related to anything in the workplace - a coworker who is hard to work with, a new manager who is not adjusting well, or a new company policy that is not working out.
However, this is all the information that you want to know.
Instead of forcing these awkward conversations on your employees, consider investing in a tool that lets you collect feedback anonymously. This can be a specialised feedback tool but it can also be something that you’re already using to survey your employees (provided there’s an option to hide respondents).
We’re all for transparency when it makes sense but your employees need to feel comfortable and secure enough to criticise the company without fearing any repercussions. Collecting feedback anonymously will give you valuable (if sometimes painful) insights that you can use to learn and grow.
You don’t need to wait for your employees to come to you with feedback when you can easily solicit it using Ambassify. Easily design and distribute NPS surveys, employee advocacy campaigns, and increase two-communication and engagement in your company through carefully designed campaigns that let you reward your employees for their contributions.
Simplify & Encourage Employee Communication With Online Tools
While email still reigns supreme in the workplace, it’s rigid and doesn’t really support the type of open employee communication you’re aiming for.
That’s why you should start introducing other online communication tools into the mix, such as Slack for organisational and team communication, and Asana, Monday or another similar project management tool for keeping tabs on projects and progress.
The idea here is to slowly move away from email as a primary communications tool, and to focus on those channels that actually invite and encourage participation.
For example, Slack allows you to create different communication rooms for different employees - each department can have their own, or each team. The focus in some of these groups will be professional. Others will serve a more social purpose, such as chat rooms where employees can discuss movies, books, or completely random stuff.
When employees get comfortable communicating on these platforms, the knowledge gap in the company shrinks, and people no longer spend a ridiculous amount of time searching for colleagues and/or information.
Publicise Your Strategic Goals
Imagine if one day you woke up only to realise that you have absolutely no control over your limbs.
Your left leg wants to stay in bed, while your right one is already halfway to the bathroom; your left arm is putting on a sweater and the right one is trying on a coat.
That would result in chaos, right?
Something very similar happens in a company that chooses not to publicise and communicate strategic goals. Employees spend hours every day pulling in one direction, only to realise after six months that they’re headed the wrong way.
This results in low motivation, loss of productivity, and a disengaged workforce.
Effective communication starts at the top with your senior management team. They set the example that’s then followed by other managers and, ultimately, by all employees.
At the start of every year, create a document that outlines your OKRs - Objectives and Key Results - and what each department and team needs to do for the company to reach them.
These OKRs need to be specific, measurable, and achievable.
The benefits you’ll get from implementing this framework are very tangible:
- Focus and alignment - everyone in the company is on the same page and knows what’s expected of them.
- Organisational transparency - it lays the foundation for building an open and honest company culture in which employees trust their senior managers.
- Increased employee engagement - when employees know how and where their work is making an impact, it increases their sense of ownership in the company, which contributes to higher overall engagement levels.
Once OKRs are made public and everyone is aware of them, this often leads to a discussion about management expectations among the employees. Feedback - direct and anonymous - is given to line managers and supervisors, especially if employees feel that the goals that were set are unrealistic.
This is a good thing - you want and need these conversations to happen because they’re the only way you’ll get real information from the trenches of your company. If you’ve missed the mark with OKRs, you will reassess and adjust, and your employees will feel empowered because they know that they have the power to influence policy-making. Those new, manageable goals are going to be met much more easily by a workforce that’s now engaged and productive.
Effective Company Communication Requires (& Rewards) Effort
Here’s the cold hard truth - you’re spending thousands, if not millions, every year trying to communicate and bond with your potential customers, but you are doing very little in comparison when it comes to talking to your actual employees.
No one is saying that sales are not important but the equation is simple:
Profit = Revenue - Cost.
A disengaged workforce is unproductive and unmotivated. This is a real cost your company is struggling to offset through marketing and sales but you’re probably realizing that this is difficult to do when your salespeople don’t feel like giving it their 100 percent.
If you instead focus on implementing an effective employee communication strategy, you might increase your cost temporarily as you invest in tools and training but you’ll more than recoup that in just a few short months.
Let’s work together on keeping your organisation out of those grim workplace communication statistics we’ve mentioned. Contact Ambassify’s experts today, and schedule a demo of the platform to learn first hand about the powerful comms, engagement, and advocacy tools that we have in store for you!