Communication in the workplace is one of the fundamentals of a successful business. Even if you assemble a team of driven and insightful professionals, if they don’t communicate and collaborate effectively, your business will suffer.
Companies often prioritize B2B and client communication but when in-house relationships are not productive, this slows processes down, affects workflows, and creates bottlenecks. Furthermore, when management fails to successfully transmit their messages to employees, this creates further confusion and even chaos.
In fact, miscommunication causes large companies to lose $62.4 million per year and small businesses $420,000 per year. The problem goes so deep that it has been estimated that as much as half of all employees don’t know what is expected of them at work and struggle to deliver because of this.
In this article, we provide actionable ideas on how to improve communication at work and ensure higher productivity. Read on to find out!
How Can Communication Improve Productivity?
Now that we know what the damage is, let’s focus on the positive and have a look at how communication can improve productivity:
- Reduces Misunderstandings. When everyone knows what to do and knows who to turn to for advice, people are less likely to make mistakes.
- Improves Efficiency. Clear instructions and goals enable a more efficient workflow and allow people to accomplish their tasks quicker.
- Less Frustration. When people don’t know what they are expected to do, but know they have to deliver results, they feel frustrated and this reduces productivity.
- Better Conflict Resolution. Workplace feuds hurt productivity and create a toxic environment. The best way to resolve problems is by communicating them, clearing up misunderstandings, and reaching compromises where needed.
- Efficient Collaboration. Employees that are in good professional relationships and can communicate with a friendly attitude are more likely to collaborate efficiently and work more productively.
- Happier Team. People feel better when they are able to communicate their needs, feelings, and thoughts. Being understood makes us more confident and more able to keep up the good work.
- Encourages Loyalty and Trust. Communication is one of the cornerstones of loyalty and trust. Employees that feel they are kept in the loop about relevant updates, feel valued and important and are more loyal to the company.
How to Improve Communication in the Workplace
To successfully improve communication in the workplace, you should build a strategy in collaboration with your HR team, and take care to follow through with it.
Here are some practical tips on how to do it:
1. Create a Safe Environment
When people are happy at the workplace, feel appreciated, and have their needs met, they are more likely to express a positive work attitude and communicate issues freely. If there is something that they don’t know, understand, or feel comfortable with, team members should feel free to speak their minds and be heard. Otherwise, the uncommunicated issues will build up and affect the way people perform, and may influence their attitude towards work.
However, HR and management should make sure to listen to what people say, acknowledge, and address the issues accordingly. Even if there is no available solution, this should be discussed, or else the person may feel they are being ignored. Employees who have spoken and remain neglected are even more likely to feel unhappy than those who are reluctant to share their displeasure.
Some effective ways to create a safe environment at work are:
- Hold Regular Feedback Sessions. Tell people they are valued, discuss their career development in the company, and provide practical feedback on how to improve their work.
- Encourage Asking Questions. Strive to create an environment where people feel safe to ask questions, and not feel judged. It should be a part of your work culture that everyone should learn from others, and be willing to share their professional and personal knowledge.
- Promote Two-Way Communication. Workplace communication is a two-way street and management and HR should be open to feedback as well. Make it known that people are welcome to tell you how they feel and provide suggestions. Listening to what they say can help you enable them to work more productively and feel better at the workplace.
2. Be Clear About Behavior Protocol and Rules
People consider certain types of behavior appropriate and have different boundaries both in society and in the workplace. Providing a set of rules on how employees should communicate with one another, what tone of voice is appropriate, and what forms of communication should be used, may seem redundant. However, it can dramatically improve the quality of professional relationships and reduce the possible tension that occurs when people overstep.
Consider creating seminars and video tutorials discussing communication in the workplace and providing a clear set of rules and behavior protocols. It might benefit only a handful of people, but it’s definitely worth it.
By making the rules known will contribute to a more pleasant workplace and, in addition, may potentially save you complications with the law.
3. Establish a Positive Work Culture
Positive work culture enables employees to thrive and unfold their full professional potential. Companies should encourage people to support and help each other out, rather than focus only on their own work. This way they can create more than a pleasant workplace – they can build a strong team.
Employees who feel uplifted and comfortable at work and share the same vision and values as the company are more likely to communicate openly and productively. Furthermore, they may strive to solve problems and optimize performance, rather than dwell on issues and not do their jobs.
Workplaces that don’t handle conflicts and encourage rivalry create an unfriendly environment where toxic communication begets more toxic communication. This pushes people to focus on the negatives and hurts their productivity.
Some assets that can help you improve communication through teamplay are:
- Team Building Activities.
- Recreational Area in the Office.
- Regular HR Sessions.
- Group Projects.
- Internal Coaching and Mentoring.
4. Understand Employees’ Individual Needs
Different people need different kinds of motivation. While some thrive when a leader pushes them to achieve more, others are self-motivated and need to see their hard work and value appreciated.
Management that fails to understand individual employees and how to communicate with them, risks losing them to competitors who value their workforce more.
For example, if a company continuously pushes employees to achieve impossible goals, it risks creating a workplace where people feel like underachievers even when they do their best. Some employees may strive to prove themselves, pushing beyond their own limits, and this will lead to burnout. Others are likely to feel underappreciated and unmotivated. In both cases, productivity drops.
Failing to communicate issues will make it hard to retain employees and will lead to process setbacks.
5. Define a Clear Communication Workflow
Companies should create a clear step-by-step process elaborating how communication regarding tasks and assignments should proceed and what it involves. People are prone to collaborating more efficiently if they have a protocol of how to communicate their work progress, what details to share, and when.
The workflow should enable team members to provide peers with clear instructions and access to all the relevant assets. It should also stress that this information is to be requested if not provided.
Presuming the process is easy to follow and straightforward, both management and employees can quickly get used to following it, and it can be integrated into their daily activities.
6. Encourage Productive Problem Resolution
Whether people are in a personal or professional relationship, arguments and misunderstandings are always a possibility. When employees occupy a shared space, there is a significant chance that personal differences may become the reason for disagreements, quarrels, and even feuds.
Management should stay on the watch for such developments, and if people are not capable of communicating and resolving those issues between themselves, they should be escalated to HR.
7. Choose Communication Tooling Smart
Nowadays, a lot of teams are partially remote. However, even if you are in the office, it can be difficult to maintain active communication and stay in the loop about all relevant project updates. Furthermore, even the most diligent professionals happen to occasionally forget and miscommunicate things.
Using modern communication, project management, business process management, and workflow tools enables teams to stay connected and organize their work. Whether it is Slack, Asana, Zoom, or another solution, this allows team members to exchange and request information, collaborate, and follow the development of tasks.
In fact, research shows that implementing communication tech can improve the productivity of both management and employees by up to 25%.
For example, a communication tool like Slack is great for day-to-day exchanges, quick syncs, and personal updates. Asana, on the other hand, optimizes task management communication – people have all the information about an assignment in one place, they can leave or request progress updates, add collaborators, and always keep track of their pending tasks and projects. Zoom enables teams to hold meetings, webinars, and real-time tutorials, and communicate face to face even from a distance.
All in all, smart tools make it possible to up the quality of communication in the workplace and connect people. The rest is up to your positive work culture and the right attitude.
Communication is an important part of running a business. However, while most companies focus on efficiently communicating with their clients, many forget to improve communication in-house.
Businesses should make sure that team members understand each other well, exchange enough information about their tasks and the processes they are in charge of, and communicate issues efficiently.
Better workplace communication is the first and most important step towards a positive and productive work environment and its success.