How to improve communication in the workplace
— December 2nd, 2017
The power of good communication in the workplace should not be underestimated. It helps to foster employee engagement, reduce incidents of conflict and enhance productivity, and these are just the headline benefits. But what if your internal communications have stagnated?
Here are our 16 tips for improving communications in the workplace. We've grouped them into two areas: technology and culture.
Take advantage of technology to improve workplace communications
- Assess current communications
Before you make any changes to your workplace communications, you'll need to perform an internal communications audit. Find out what is and isn't working. Compile a list to see if you're focusing too much on certain methods, or if you're not listening to employee feedback. Use this assessment as your starting point to improving the way in which you communicate.
- Establish an Intranet
A company-wide intranet is a useful resource or area where employees can find relevant and important information and updates. Keep it populated with useful content and make sure that content is easy to find on the site. Incorporate other channels (like social media) and enable comments to make your intranet truly interactive.
- Send a regular company newsletter
We always talk about how an internal newsletter is a vital part of any company communications. It's a tool that makes sure everyone is kept up to date on developments, news and updates, all in one place. If you start a company newsletter, make sure to stick to a regular schedule.
- Adopt social media
The workplace dynamic has changed and your communications channels need to adapt to that change. In order to make sure your communications are reaching all employees you will need to introduce new channels such as social media, like enterprise social network Yammer, for example.
- Use mobile channels
Taking a multi-channel approach to workplace communications will help you to reach as many employees as possible. The mobile channels are particularly useful for getting your message to frontline staff who by their nature are highly mobile, and not typically desk bound.
- Create fresh and inclusive content
Enhance your communications with quality content that involves everyone, from entry level staff up to senior management. Conduct regular 'day in the life' interviews with top management and behind the scenes articles that showcase what a typical role entails. Video has emerged as an effective format of content with 93% of internal communication professionals saying it will become essential in 2018.
- Focus on two-way conversations
Effective communications need to be a two-way conversation; it's about listening and learning, and then responding appropriately. This can be done digitally by adding comment functionality to your articles or videos. This gives your employees the opportunity to engage with the content. It's important to also respond to these comments to ensure that employees see that you are listening.
- Make knowledge documents readily available
There is value in knowledge, and your employees should have access to all pertinent information in order to do their job correctly. Make sure that all key internal documents are easily accessible by all staff, this could be on your company intranet, for example.
- Embrace video conferencing
Video can be a great channel to create a culture of inclusiveness, particularly with remote workers. Using video conferencing remote workers can feel more a part of a day to day decisions and they can feel like they are having one-to-one conversations. They can benefit from all the characteristics of personal communication: eye contact, body language, and facial recognition.
Inspire better communications with a culture change
- Implement an open door policy
Having open communications in the workplace needs to come from the top down. Senior management needs to show that they are approachable and happy to talk to any employee. This behavior will filter throughout the company and encourage lower-level managers to take on the same open, approachable role, leading to a better communications culture across the business.
- Commit to regular face-to-face meetings
In-person meetings are useful to 'check in' with employees. Regular meetings ensure they know you are committed to them and their role or progress. These meetings could become a time where any issues are aired, suggestions put forward or simply to catch up on projects they're working on. This can dramatically improve communications as you're giving employees a time and place where they feel comfortable putting forward ideas or talking about any grievances.
- Plan team building events
Team building events or weekends are a good opportunity to strip away the formalities of work, and instead, the team is operating on an equal playing field, working together and problem-solving.
- Create an open plan office
Open plan offices eliminate the physical hierarchy that goes along with large offices and closed doors. It also facilitates more open conversation, transparency and staff can get to know each other better informally.
- Encourage collaborative working
Collaborative working can help to bring teams closer together. As they work on the same project/document/product/ collaboratively they develop their own ways of communicating and making decisions that they can then bring into their next project.
- Schedule daily state-of-play meetings
These status update meetings only need to be a couple of minutes long and can be held via video conferencing, on a social network, in a collaborative working space, and of course face-to-face. Having them every day makes sure everyone knows what stage the project is at, who's doing what, what remains to be done, and what the expectations are.
- Highlight achievements
Whether it's company highlights, a team of individual achievements, make sure to take the time to showcase them. This can be done at meetings, via an announcement in the regular company newsletter, or through any other communications channels. The goal is to inform employees of these achievements.