Artificial intelligence (AI) has incredible potential to help businesses accelerate employee productivity, unlock creativity, and save time and costs. Enterprises are racing to adopt the technology and gain a competitive edge, but few will realize the full potential of AI without a strategic approach that considers how and where AI can be deployed for true organizational transformation. 

During a recent webinar, Grammarly’s chief revenue officer, Matt Rosenberg, sat down with The Harris Poll’s managing director of trends and thought leadership, Abbey Lunney, to discuss one of the biggest areas of opportunity for AI: workplace communication. The pair discussed why solving miscommunication across the organization must become a top priority for leaders and how businesses can solve communication challenges at scale with AI-powered solutions. 

Employees are spending high-value time on low-value work

Data from this year’s State of Business Communication Report shows that the amount of written communication is up 18% year-over-year, but the effectiveness of that communication is waning (-12%). Two-thirds of leaders report experiencing miscommunication at least once per week. “This is alarming because [communication] is really the backbone of the business. It is the core building block of how we interact and ultimately get things done at work,” Lunney said. 

When communication goes wrong, one unclear, inaccurate, or potentially triggering message can quickly spiral into dozens of messages seeking clarification or, even worse, unclear communications circulating across the organization. This issue is exacerbated by the growing number of platforms and channels being used across the organization. “You can see how much high-value time is being spent on low-value activity to clean up miscommunication,” Rosenberg said. “With the proliferation of asynchronous work and memo-writing culture, these moments of miscommunication get amplified over and over again.” 

Another factor contributing to the rate of miscommunication is the fact that most people aren’t aware of their own communication shortcomings. The data shows that 83% of business leaders believe that they are strong communicators; however, only about 50% of knowledge workers perceive communication from senior leaders as effective. In other words, most people overestimate their own communication skills, which makes it difficult for individuals to identify mistakes and ways to improve. Real-time, in-line writing assistance helps individuals spot and rectify mistakes before they happen, leading to clearer communication the first time. 

Improving miscommunication must move from a below-the-line issue to a top priority 

Data from this year’s report shows that miscommunication across the business costs organizations significant time and money. Miscommunication leads to missed deadlines, increased time to resolution, decreased productivity, and ultimately increased costs. “Getting communication wrong has an extraordinary cost to the business . . . it’s amazing that solving this problem isn’t a priority for many businesses. Now, many more are figuring this out, but it still remains below the line,” Rosenberg said. 

Rosenberg noted that one reason communication challenges remain under-recognized and unresolved is that organizations have not yet quantified the impact of poor communication across the business. The report findings offered insight into the revenue implications of poor communication—close to 70% of business leaders reported that they lost deals due to miscommunication, and one in five reported that they’ve experienced the erosion of brand credibility as a result of poor communication. “A trend that we see across a lot of our clients and studies at The Harris Poll . . . is that focusing on the bottom line and pressure to deliver is increasing, which makes getting communication right that much more important,” Lunney said. 

Frequent miscommunication also leads to employee attrition and the resulting costs to replace them. The report found that close to a quarter of employees have considered finding a new job due to poor communication at work. Recent estimates show that the cost to replace and train a new employee can be up to four times the cost of the employee’s salary. “If communication is the operating system of the business—it’s how the business runs—and you know employees are one of the most important assets of a business, then getting this right for your employee base is just so critical,” Rosenberg said. 

Effective communication is the baseline for the success of any strategic initiative 

Data from this year’s report shows that effective communication fosters productivity, employee retention, and customer satisfaction. Effective communication also boosts employee morale and purpose to generate more long-term employee goodwill and buy-in. Close to 80% of individuals said that they have improved faith in their company as a result of effective communication from leadership. 

Rosenberg added that effective communication underpins the success of any strategic initiative. “Getting this right unlocks human potential. It gives employees time back to be doing what they were hired to do, which is to create value, to support customers, and to help grow the business,” he said. Ultimately, effective communication enables teams to work more efficiently and effectively because they are aligned with the higher-order values and vision of the company.  

Move faster with AI that works across the business 

Most organizations have not yet solved communication challenges in their organization because they have not implemented a solution that works across the business. Instead, the report shows that many business leaders are implementing more platforms or channels to solve narrow communication challenges, which leads to an increasingly tangled web of communication channels and touchpoints. “Information is everywhere. It’s across all of these apps and platforms. . . . [Solving miscommunication] isn’t about adding more complexity to the ecosystem; it’s about making sure that the AI solution works where employees work,” Rosenberg said. 

Solving miscommunication requires AI; however, selecting the right AI partner will be critical for success. AI is advancing at a rapid rate, and new solutions are entering the market at an incredible speed. The proliferation of new tools and systems makes navigating the AI marketplace all the more challenging. Rosenberg offered three points for leaders to consider when evaluating AI providers:

  1. Security must be at the forefront. Whatever AI solution is adopted by the organization must meet enterprise-grade security and trust standards. 
  2. Ubiquity. The solution must work where employees work to deliver true value. The solution should simplify the tech stack for IT while also improving employees’ efficiency across all existing workflows and systems.
  3. Context. The real value of AI for the enterprise will be realized when tools are able to understand the business context of communication to ensure the message is on brand and strikes the right tone. 

Ultimately, organizations that integrate the right enterprise-grade AI into their ecosystem will unlock the ability to achieve objectives faster and with a higher degree of impact. 

Empower your entire organization to communicate more effectively with AI that works where employees work. Let’s talk. 

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