Finding the best employee talent is certainly an important part of developing a productive and competitive workforce. Without the right communication strategies, however, that talent is often wasted as productivity levels suffer from unclear messages and indistinct objectives. Imagine the following scenario: a group of employees were tasked with organizing a new product launch during the second quarter. While the company HR team carefully choose the top employees with the best abilities for the job, responsibilities were not clearly delegated. After several weeks of intense work, the manager found that several of the employees had been working on a marketing strategy, but none of the employees had contacted potential sales venues and markets for the product launch. This forced the company to push back the product launch which they had originally organized to strategically coincide with their presence in a new market
Promoting effective team communication within a workplace is often an underappreciated aspect of the productive workplace. Below, we look at the statistics related to how effective team communication affects productivity and performance and then offer four simple suggestions to improve workplace communication strategies.
The (Unheralded) Importance of Team Communication
According to the statistics, 57 percent of employees report not being given clear directions at their work, and 69 percent of managers are not comfortable communicating with the employees in general. This essentially means that more than half of all employees are not sure what they should be doing while on the job.
Consider the following:
- A recent report by Siemens found that businesses that employ an average of 100 workers will spend around 17 hours each week clarifying communication amongst their workforce. This downtime essential ends up costing the company an average of $528,443 each year in lost productivity.
- Unclear communication strategies will undoubtedly lead to a disengaged workforce. Studies have shown that disengaged employees collectively cost the U.S. anywhere from $450 to $550 billion per year in lost productivity.
- A 2018 study released by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Lucidchart shows that employees blame poor or ineffective communication strategies on delay or failure to complete projects, missed performance goals, increased stress, low morale, and lost sales. This obviously translates into higher employee turnover, lost streams of revenue, and poor productivity, all of which negatively effects the finances of a business.
Top 4 Tips for Promoting Effective Team Communication
Whether you are on the managerial team of a major corporation with a workforce that numbers in the hundreds, or recently started a small company with just five employees, developing clear, concise, and effective communication strategies should be at the forefront of your priorities. Here are a few ideas to improve communication for a smoother workplace environment.
Limit Email Communication
The average worker spends 13 hours a week on emails alone. This translates into 28 percent of the workweek which is taken up by email. While there are certainly moments when email communication is important and necessary, HR managers and other team leaders would do well to actively limit the number of email communications that they send out. One recent poll found that 96 percent of workers said that unnecessary emails waste their time and cut into other important work items that they have on their agenda.
When employees are forced to spend the first hours of their workday scrolling through a seemingly endless inbox, this can negatively affect their motivation and productivity. Furthermore, many employees may miss important communication sent over email as they are trying to determine which emails merit their attention.
Team leaders should create communication policies that limit the number of emails. While company-wide memos, changes to certain HR policies, and updated holiday hours can be sent through generic emails to the entire workforce, personalized messages and communications should be conveyed personally. For employees working on a team, email communication should be replaced by dedicated meeting times throughout the work that encourage face-to-face communication.
Encourage Two Way Communication within a Team.
While company-wide emails can certainly limit the time requirements for communicating important policy changes or other information pertinent to the entire workforce, two way communication is essential for many tasks that employees face throughout the day. Two-way communication is essential in building a democratic work environment wherein employees can freely share their ideas and opinions. While hierarchies do serve a purpose in some businesses, creating spaces that encourage two-way communication can improve a company culture and allow workers to feel more valued.
In a team environment, actively creating spaces and times for two-way communication can allow for better problem solving to emerge.
Use Technology to Facilitate Employee Advocacy
Part of an effective communication strategy is finding ways to allow your employees to engage with social media in a way that is beneficial to the company. Instead of trying to ban Facebook use during work hours, encouraging employees to share content that is useful and valuable to the company is more engaging.
Vodafone is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world with a workforce that numbers in the thousands. When trying to come up with a healthy social media policy, the company created a unique employee advocacy program wherein their thousands of employees were given a single destination to access and share company news and content. This allowed the employees to use social media in a way that benefited the organic outreach of the company and had resulted over 20 million impressions which reduces reliance on paid media, increases employee engagement, while avoiding the temptation to “ban” social media from the workplace.
Make the Effort to Measure Communication
One of the most difficult aspects of effective communication within the workplace is that it can be hard to measure. How do you know if employees are using the strategies and approaches put in place? Tasking someone on your HR team to measure communication effectiveness can equip you with data to better design and implement communication policies. For example, if your company has an intranet where communications are shared, you might be able to use your same time and attendance software to also track how often certain employees log into their Intranet account. This not only will give you a participation baseline to see how often employees use the tools that are designed for better communication, but it can also help your managerial team discover when is the best time to post important communications to your Intranet board.
Developing effective communication strategies takes time and effort. While a generic email can be sent out in the matter of minutes, creating more personalized, effective, and direct communications policies will require a dedicated effort. However, better communications policies will reflect in increased productivity, more engaged employees, and more creativity.