WorkBuzz helps you gather real-time feedback from your people and use this information to improve employee communication.
What is employee communication?
In a workplace, employee communication is defined as the way in which workers are able to share information, feelings, values and ideas with each other and managers. Employee communication is part of any workplace’s culture, one that seeks to make information flow vertically – between workers and managers – as well as horizontally – between different departments and teams – in as clear and precise a way as possible.
Based on unique insights from over 300 HR professionals and organisational leaders, The State of Employee Engagement 2021 report reveals HR’s biggest priorities right now, the challenges ahead for hybrid working, and uncovers the great employee engagement divide.
Why is it important to help employees communicate effectively?
Being able to communicate with co-workers and senior managers is only one aspect of employee communication. After all, the simple fact is that being able to do something doesn’t necessarily mean that the opportunity to do so will always be taken. Consequently, workplaces with great communication tools but poor employee engagement cultures will often tend to suffer from low-quality employee communication. Conversely, companies and organisations that actively encourage workers to communicate effectively with one another throughout the hierarchy tend to enjoy better employee communications. As such, it should not be undervalued even within businesses that pride themselves on their ability to communicate well, such as media companies, customer service teams, public relations professionals and advertising firms, for example.
It is often a given that employers want employees who can communicate well. This is why this key trait is a feature of a huge number of job adverts, for instance. However, not all organisations are set up to allow effective communication even from effective communicators. In other words, businesses cannot expect employee communication to be effective without putting some effort in, creating the right workplace culture and giving people the most effective tools. For the most part, people have the ability to email one another with information and ideas in the majority of modern workplaces. However, what if they inundate people with too many messages or, perhaps worse still, send too little information because they are afraid of being seen as too bombastic.
In other words, a balance needs to be struck for employee communication to be effective. People need to be able to feel they can communicate with others when they think it is right to do so but they also shouldn’t overload their colleagues with constant communication. Striking the right balance means that team meetings will go better with more people contributing. It will often increase employee engagement, too, as more people feel listened to, something that has an associated connection with boosting productivity. Furthermore, better employee communication means that senior managers are more likely to hear of problems than otherwise. The last thing strategic decision-makers want is to have middle managers failing to communicate issues that might result in the wrong decisions being taken.
What should employers do to make employee communication easier in the workplace?
Employees need the right tools to communicate well. Most will be able to send messages to their manager and the rest of their team but do they also know how to contact other teams or departments to obtain the information they might need? For this reason, it is often useful to have employees shadow colleagues in other departments from time to time. It will help them to understand the best ways of reaching out to other teams and also builds more bridges at a human level.
There again, employers should give people the tools they need to communicate effectively. This isn’t just about written and verbal tools – although they are important, too – but offering people the right platforms to bring up thoughts, feelings and ideas, as well. One team meeting a year won’t be enough in most dynamic workplaces where working situations can alter from one day to the next. Employers should tell employees that their opinions are useful and so long as they’re forwarded in a professional manner, even negative feedback on workplace-related issues is to be welcomed. Conversely, defensive employers who only want to hear positive feedback from their workers tend to shut down effective employee communication and suffer as a result.
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Which benefits can employers expect when employee communication is improved?
Firstly, there are numerous team benefits that will result from improved employee communication. With open forums like team meetings and even company-wide gatherings receiving more input from more employees, so a more rounded picture of any given situation can be put together. This means greater diversity of opinion which, in turn, will help to make better-informed decisions. By including more voices, so more diverse – and happier – workplace cultures can be achieved.
There again, management benefits include the lowering of staff turnover as more people feel they are listened to as ordinary employees. Better communication flowing up through a company means that senior managers really know what is going on lower in the hierarchy with less reliance on middle management making the right calls. Equally, downward flows of communication help senior managers to get their messages across to rank and file staff without them being filtered or misinterpreted by team leaders and supervisors. In terms of employee feedback, improved communication means people won’t just offer up information but tell employers about their ideas and how they feel. Good employee communication isn’t just about conveying day-to-day information throughout an organisation effectively but understanding how it functions on a more human level, too, after all.
How can WorkBuzz surveys help?
At WorkBuzz, our online workforce feedback surveys allow people to say what they truly think and feel. Even in the most open and honest of workplaces with positive cultures, employees can feel pressured to ‘say the right thing’ or ‘not rock the boat’. Even if this is a pressure they’ve put on themselves and not something that has come from senior managers, it can be the reality for many. With an anonymised platform, however, employee communications can be truly sincere. Consequently, any forward-thinking businesses and organisations that want to improve their cultures of employee communications should consider how an impartial platform, like ours, will benefit them.
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