8 Tips on Improving Workplace Communication
For all the communication that happens around work, it’s amazing how much of it is not effective. The best companies know the importance of great communication. It drives collaboration, enhances productivity, and it cultivates a positive work culture.
A few years ago, Gallup found that only one-fifth of employees thought their company had open communication. Especially with remote and hybrid work, it’s essential to set the right tone.
Here’s a checklist of practical tips and strategies to optimize workplace communication.
1. Use meetings effectively: Regular, recurring meetings allow people and teams to connect and collaborate. Experiment with different meeting formats and note what works best. Drafting agendas ahead of time, setting time limits, and connecting all communication to the company mission helps leaders use employee time in the most effective way possible. Creating more effective meeting guidelines and creative ways of using technology can prevent work-from-home burnout by making employees feel more aligned with and motivated by the company’s vision. Remote meetings create new communication challenges, so consider ways to avoid these.
2. Set clear expectations: Establishing clear expectations improves workplace communication. It encourages higher levels of engagement, reduces team confusion, and prevents issues such as employee burnout and quiet quitting. When people know what’s expected, they feel more satisfied with individual and company accomplishments. The process creates better morale, keeping employees connected to their unique roles.
3. Understand your communication tools: You already have the tools to communicate effectively, whether it’s email, instant messaging, video conferencing, telephones, or in-person meetings. Every employee has different communication preferences, so creating a range of communication channels is essential. Continue to test new ideas and technologies.
4. Develop trust with employees: Developing a rapport with employees helps leaders better understand everyone’s different communication styles and drivers of employee engagement. One-on-one meetings should be your go-to tool. Individuals find a deeper connection with their company when both parties set aside time to talk about non-work-related topics. In turn, they start sharing more meaningful information and developing personal relationships with their teams and the organization. Developing personal relationships with colleagues is a great way to improve employee well-being. This process boosts serotonin and even increases company retention numbers. And the best part? Developing relationships motivates everyone, including leadership. Because leadership and organizational culture are highly intertwined, most organizations see employee engagement benefits when everyone starts connecting more meaningfully.
5. Give constructive feedback: What is the difference between negative and constructive feedback? Constructive feedback creates positive outcomes through advice and helpful suggestions at individual and organizational levels. Constructive feedback is not negative feedback, and great leaders know the difference. If feedback is communicated poorly, it can impact employees in a negative, personal way. But when leaders and managers focus their feedback on growth, they can align company and individual goals more effectively.
6. Collect and listen to employee feedback: Collecting employee feedback is crucial. It provides valuable insights, enhances employee engagement, and enables continuous organizational improvement. When leadership measures employee sentiment and acts on the feedback, it improves accountability across the organization; encourages employee engagement; improves employee retention and recruitment; increases employee trust; strengthens company culture; identifies training and development opportunities; and uncovers potential challenges.
7. Use employee surveys for confidential feedback: Trusted and reliable third-party employee surveys are among the most effective ways to collect feedback. Employee listening also shows your organization values input and is willing to act on it.
8. Continuously work on organizational communication: Workplace communication must be nurtured over time. Offering team-building exercises and training and development opportunities encourages the bonding and support necessary for employee trust and honest feedback. Asking employees what they want, and then delivering it, helps the process grow. It also improves leadership accountability.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.