This year promises to bring transformational benefits in the ways we communicate and the ways we work—for those who seize the opportunity.

When we released our first State of Business Communication report in 2022, we found that miscommunication in the workplace costs US businesses an estimated $1.2 trillion every year. This staggering statistic validated the importance of effective communication at work. In 2023, we dove deeper into the topic of effective communication, examining how it impacts productivity, performance, and profit. The data supported an indisputable truth: Businesses run on communication. When communication is effective, it creates value and fuels success—but when it’s not, businesses face avoidable costs in the form of lost productivity, declining morale, customer churn, and eroded brand reputation. 

This year’s report, developed in collaboration with The Harris Poll, provides valuable insights into the current state of workplace communication and the significant role that generative AI is playing in transforming it. We uncover that every business is at a tipping point in its relationship with communication. Which way each business tips will depend on how well it scales effective communication and harnesses the power of AI. 

Take a look at some of the latest findings below, and download the full report to explore all of the insights.

The Workforce Has Entered Communication Overload

This year’s report found that every aspect of communication is going up. Most professionals agree that in the past 12 months, they have seen increases in both the frequency of communication (78%) and the variety of channels (73%) that they use to communicate at work. Knowledge workers now spend an astounding 88% of their workweek communicating across multiple channels. 

This uptick in communication is leaving workers overwhelmed. Communication is becoming synonymous with work. And in some instances, overwork. HR teams, large teams (20+ members), and hybrid workers report spending over 40 hours each week on communication alone. 

So we have to ask, is the time we spend communicating going up because the quality of communication is decreasing? 100% of knowledge workers surveyed said they experience miscommunications at least weekly, with one in four reporting miscommunications multiple times a day. This poor communication leaves some workers with more stress, less productivity, and decreased work satisfaction.


Business Success Hinges on Effective Communication

The costs of miscommunication extend beyond just the human toll on workers. In fact, communication directly impacts the quality of business. About one in five business leaders say they have lost business due to poor communication. On the other hand, twice as many business leaders (43%) say they have gained new business because of effective communication.

The positives of effective communication extend across the enterprise, with business leaders citing heightened customer satisfaction (51%), improved brand reputation (45%), successful business deals (43%), and cost reductions (33%) resulting from effective communication. Meanwhile, workers report that effective communication increases their work satisfaction, confidence, and productivity.

As we shared earlier, every business is at a tipping point in its relationship with communication. To realize these benefits of effective communication, businesses must first overcome communication overload by investing in the right tools to enable their teams to communicate better, not more. 

The Gen AI Era: From Experimentation to Optimization

Last year marked a notable explosion in the use of AI at work with the public release of new generative AI technologies. Already, gen AI shows tremendous potential to transform the ways we work—but these benefits are largely untapped enterprise-wide.

Of workers who are using gen AI regularly, the benefits are substantial. Workers report reduced stress, increased productivity, more satisfaction at work, and even enhanced creativity. 

While innovative professionals are fueling AI experimentation, there is a large gap in AI adoption across the organization. Nearly nine in 10 business leaders actively leverage gen AI at work. However, only five in 10 knowledge workers report doing the same. 

One major hurdle: AI literacy. 52% of knowledge workers express a need for improved education and training to use generative AI tools effectively. How businesses work now to close the gap between AI adoption and AI literacy will define their success in the coming years. 

The Path Forward: A Standardized Approach to Effective Communication

So what is the path forward? In the 2024 State of Business Communication report, we’re laying out the blueprint for businesses to unlock the benefits of generative AI at scale. The key is to invest in an enterprise-wide strategy and responsible AI technology that standardizes the way we all communicate.

With a smart strategy and the right tools, businesses can overcome communication overload by empowering everyone to communicate more effectively. This approach ensures businesses not only keep pace with the evolving communication landscape but also play a leading role in creating more effective, purposeful communication.

Download the full report to gain even more insights into the state of business communication and get the blueprint for AI-powered success. 

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