A company that makes it a mission to improve communication in the workplace is doing more than mitigating misunderstandings and future conflicts. Companies with great expectations for communication are positioning themselves for sustainable success.
Good communication in the workplace is central to all business goals: providing purpose, building corporate culture, avoiding confusion, getting work accomplished, creating accountability, and growing revenues year over year.
An environment that fosters open, honest, clear communication creates a safety net for the exploration of creative ideas necessary for innovation. One study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found the right office environment can also increase employee productivity by up to 25%.
Teams that connect during routine communications are more likely to have greater job satisfaction, which reduces absenteeism, sick days, and turnover. People who feel understood at work, in turn, put forth their best efforts in understanding clients or customers.
And with modern tools to make the adoption of smarter communication easier than ever, there’s no reason to delay making vital improvements sooner rather than later.
Why good workplace communication is vital to success
Countless studies have affirmed the importance of good communication in the workplace. Here are some key highlights exemplifying its critical significance:
Harvard Business Review found that 57% of employees said they “were not given clear instructions at work,” and 69% of managers admitted to being “uncomfortable communicating with employees.” They especially lack confidence when communicating direct feedback related to performance that may be received negatively and sharing lessons they’ve learned from mistakes they’ve made that demonstrate vulnerability.
Managers find it equally difficult to recognize employees for a job well done and delivering the company plan or change in direction in a digestible fashion. Something as basic as “giving clear directions” was cited as a challenge by 19% of managers.
A 2019 survey by Dynamic Signal found that ineffective communication caused stress for 80% of US workers—a 30% increase since 2018. Worse yet, 63% of people surveyed said they have wanted to quit because poor communication and stress interfered with their ability to perform their jobs—that’s almost double the 33% who wanted to quit due to poor workplace communication in 2018. The problem goes all the way to the top, with 17% of employees recommending that their CEO be fired over the communication failures.
Given poor communication’s effect on employee happiness and engagement, its repercussions can seep into a company’s competitive viability; 76% of potential hires research employee opinions prior to applying or accepting a new position. According to Glassdoor, one-third of job seekers won’t apply to a company unless it has a review with three or more stars.
Beyond recruitment, research suggests that 90% of consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with how employers treat their workers and are choosing to spend their dollars accordingly.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management study “The Cost of Poor Communications,” the average loss associated with poor communication in the workplace was $62.4 million per year. Though the study included 400 large companies with 100,000+ employees, miscommunication can cost a small business with fewer than 100 workers an average of $420,000 a year, according to author and communication expert Debra Hamilton.
The cost of poor communication—whether financial, emotional, or social—cannot be ignored as its ramifications continue to plague businesses of all sizes.
Luckily, there are simple actions you can take to begin improving communication in the workplace immediately.
6 ways to improve communication in the workplace
Good communication isn’t just about hiring the right talent; it’s also about implementing effective practices and giving existing talent the tools they need to be successful in the workplace. Here are a few ways top-performing companies support their employees’ communication goals:
1 Encourage your team to use a writing assistant tool
A digital writing assistant is a simple yet powerful instrument that employees can use to help polish their messages and get their points across in the most effective way possible. With Grammarly Business, for example, every employee can consistently deliver mistake-free, tone-analyzed, clear, and engaging communications seamlessly. Grammarly works wherever team members are writing, whether they’re composing an email, posting on social media, collaborating on work platforms like Slack or Zendesk, blogging in WordPress, or creating an internal Google Doc to share. This easily adaptable tool is used by more than 600 leading universities and corporations in a variety of fields. Every employee from entry-level staff to the CEO will enjoy the same high-quality suggestions and confidence in their day-to-day communication, which ensures company-wide consistency and commitment to improvement.
2 Audit your employee communication channels
People have different communication preferences, so it’s vital to honor as many channels as possible. Phone, email, and face-to-face meetings are standard modes of communication in any workforce, but increasingly, companies are using collaboration platforms like Slack to manage projects and Zoom to connect remotely. However, offering more channels does not necessarily mean better communication. Excellent communication involves meeting employees where they are, with the right messages, at the right times. Periodic audits of the communication channels routinely used will help you appropriately engage with employees.
Distributing employee surveys can help gauge whether your team sees current methods as effective or bothersome. An employee communication channel audit asks several basic questions:
- Are you getting the information you need when you need it?
- How would you rate the effectiveness of the following communication channels?
- What are your preferred sources of information?
- What do you want to know more about?
- How easy is it for you to find information or contact key individuals when necessary?
You’ll want to consider some of the following questions in your internal review:
- What is the channel meant to do, and how is it currently being used?
- Are similar channels currently used to achieve the same goals?
- Do better channels exist to inform the right people more effectively?
- Is the information in this channel consistently updated with the latest information?
- How do users feel about this channel? Can any improvements be made?
- Are there objective ways to measure the effectiveness of a communication channel?
Some of the best communication tools work across different channels to provide a seamless experience. Before implementing a new communication dashboard or tool, you’ll want to be sure it can work across the various channels you use.
3 Invite employees to communicate their ideas and concerns
Encourage employees at all levels to make their ideas, concerns, and suggestions heard. Go further than simply inviting questions and comments—provide a visual guide to illustrate how employees are being heard. A visual flowchart board can show “ideas in motion” that are in the process of implementation based on employee feedback. You can also consider adopting a high-tech solution like continuous improvement software to track and manage work requests in a transparent and responsive way.
4 Give continual, honest feedback
The best managers not only make it a habit to champion their team members for jobs well done, but they also provide regular feedback on how they can grow. This feedback should be constructive and helpful, with clear, actionable steps. Regular performance reviews that include rubrics for communication skills are helpful, in addition to daily meeting or email feedback loops. Creating a process for positive employee-manager feedback is a top driver of employee satisfaction, especially since it was found that managers alone impact 70% of an employee’s engagement levels.
5 Use visuals to augment written communication
The Social Science Research Network found that 65% of people are “visual learners.” And 3M similarly found people can “process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.” So providing a graph, chart, video, photo, infographic, or other visual aid along with text is a better way to improve comprehension.
6 Break the ice with team-building activities and social events
Feelings of isolation can diminish productivity by up to 21%, according to a Gallup study. On the other hand, Harvard Business Review reported that socializing between team members improves communication by more than 50%.
The possibilities are endless, but CIO Magazine recommends staff favorites like ax-throwing, treasure hunts, PB&J-making contests, escape rooms, bridge building, charity bike building, vineyard dinners, karaoke, and spa days.
Get your workplace communication on track today
Communication is no longer a nice-to-have soft skill that professionals should develop over time. It’s a core competency that will define the most successful workplaces.
A survey of 845 business executives by Canadian-based Leger Marketing identified “leadership” and “effective communication” as the most quintessential competencies for managers, but also cited them as the “two areas in most need of improvement.”
Don’t let such critical workplace factors fall by the wayside any longer. Take charge and improve communication in the workplace today.
Contact Grammarly Business to learn how you can improve communication in the workplace today. Or instantly upgrade to our easily adaptable tool that operates seamlessly across channels to enforce company playbook standards, grammatical preferences, proper tone, and communication best practices.