Effective workplace communication is clear, consistent, and engaging. It produces the desired result, and it helps you avoid misunderstandings.
Organizations with a successful internal communication style are happier and more productive. But effective employee communication isn’t always easy, especially if you manage a frontline workforce.
There are practical challenges to overcome. Frontline employees don’t have a computer. They don’t always have an employee email address. They have changing shift times and locations. And they often lack access to tools their office-based peers have as standard.
Nevertheless, overcoming these barriers to communication is important. Fail to reach everyone with effective workplace communication and:
- critical messages are missed
- you struggle to develop a strong company culture
- employees end up feeling disconnected, demotivated, and more likely to look for other jobs
Essentially, if communication doesn’t reach every member of your organization, we can’t call it effective.
So how do you close the gap between frontline and office-based staff? How do you improve workplace communication for every person in every team?
Here we explore the benefits of effective communication, and offer ideas on how to achieve it at your organization.
Benefits of effective workplace communication
93% of business leaders say that workplace communication is the backbone of business. But 3 in 4 say their company underestimates the cost of poor communication.
Here are the things companies miss out on when their communication isn’t up to scratch.
Collaborative teams are more productive and successful. But you can’t have collaboration without good communication.
When teams interact openly and inclusively, they develop a shared understanding of goals and processes. This makes it much easier for them to harness team strengths and work together.
Enhanced employee engagement
Employee engagement is how connected and committed your workers feel to their workplace.
It’s something the majority of business leaders plan to focus on in 2024. That’s because high levels of employee engagement are linked to better productivity and staff retention.
There’s a direct link between workplace communication and employee engagement. Improve the former and you improve the latter.
Workplace conflicts are natural and inevitable. But you can’t allow mountains to become molehills. You need to get team members in a room to talk it out.
When teams communicate effectively, you resolve conflicts quickly, collaboratively, and conclusively. Good employee communication also prevents conflicts from developing in the first place.
What could you do with an extra 7.47 hours per team, per week? That’s the time business leaders say they lose because of poor communication.
Employees rely on the right information to complete tasks. When that information is readily available and easy to find, workers get the job done quicker. And employee productivity sees a considerable uptick.
Improved employee morale
According to a Forbes study, nearly 50% of workers say that ineffective communication harms job satisfaction. And 42% say it makes them more stressed.
When communication is poor, workers also feel less confident professionally. And they’re more likely to look for other jobs.
Ineffective communication damages team morale. But when you adopt good communication practices, you find it easier to motivate and retain staff.
For the best shot at developing innovative new ideas, you need to enlist the help of as many people in your organization as possible.
People have to bounce ideas off of one another. And you need a way to communicate your culture of innovation to the company at large.
Innovation relies on good communication. So with effective communication strategies, your company will come up with bigger and better ideas.
When communication flows between all members of an organization, leaders make more effective decisions.
That’s because they don’t make decisions in a silo. They take into account the ideas, opinions, and perspectives of all employees. They base decisions on information, not instinct.
It’s the same for employees. An incredible 28% of workers say they don’t understand their company’s goals. So imagine how much more effective their day-to-day decision-making could be with clear communication from leadership.
According to Grammarly’s State of Business Communication report, US businesses are losing $1.2 trillion every year because of ineffective communication practices.
Poor communication can lead to increased costs, lower customer satisfaction, missed deadlines, and the erosion of brand credibility.
It’s clear. Effective employee communication isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a fundamental pillar, with the power to make or break your business.
Using technology for effective employee communication
Many organizations are having trouble hanging onto frontline staff. But we know that effective communication can make staff happier and encourage them to stay.
Traditionally, messages may have been passed to the frontline via word of mouth, a cluttered team noticeboard, or personal messaging apps.
These communication methods are inefficient and time-consuming. There’s also a big risk in terms of reliability. Employees may get the wrong message – or no message at all.
Technology offers an alternative solution. Today’s best communication tech is designed around the modern workplace. It offers:
- Top-down, bottom-up, and peer-to-peer communication: communication moves in all directions thanks to communication channels everyone can contribute to
- An intuitive user experience and integrations: it’s easy for employees to find information; tools work well with any other tech you use and don’t add to the noise
- Real-time communication: 61% of workers prefer real-time communication; moving beyond email, employees get access to instant messaging and video conferencing
- Access for every employee – whether they work in the office, on the shop floor, or on the road, all employees get the same access to communications and communication tools
In today’s workplace, communication tech is essential. But the right tech solution looks different for every business.
For desk-based teams, modern company intranets are ticking most boxes. However, frontline teams need a tech tool that isn’t chained to a computer and doesn’t require a company email address for login.
Enter the employee app. For organizations with large frontline teams, an employee app like Blink has all the features and functions you need for effective employee communication.
It’s a mobile-first app so all employees can access Blink from their smartphone. All communication is available in the same place so employees know exactly where to find it.
Blink supports surveys, recognition, and – crucially – allows leadership to communicate with the frontline workforce they’re so often disconnected from.
88% of business leaders want tools that make communication easier and more effective. Frontline workers are calling out for effective tech, too, with 52% saying they would quit their jobs over poor tech tools.
With leaders and the frontline seeing the value of good tech, implementing this type of tool is one of the primary ways you can improve workplace communication.
7 ways to improve workplace communication
Getting the right tech on your team is central to improving workplace communication. But you can’t stop there. If communication at your workplace is subpar, there’s work to be done.
These tips provide the other pieces of the puzzle. Put them into place and you’ll develop a strong and successful internal communication strategy.
1. Lead by example
Leaders set the tone of your organization. So if you want employees to communicate regularly, openly, and clearly, your leaders have to, too.
Encourage leaders to be active and visible on employee communication channels. And to engage with employees at all levels of the business.
Training may be necessary. There’s a presumption that good communication comes naturally. The truth is it doesn’t. But it can be taught.
By gaining new skills, your leaders can become clear communicators and active listeners. They’ll also find it easier to establish a culture of positive communication.
2. Establish clear communication channels
Lots of noise? Not much being heard?
Channel overload makes it hard for employees to find information that’s relevant to them. This impacts their productivity. It can also lead them to disengage with internal communications.
So establish clear communication channels and consider streamlining, too. When there’s one source of knowledge and information, it’s easier for employees to use it.
Also, share guidelines on how you expect employees to use your chosen channels. Perhaps there’s one space for informal team chat and another for company-wide updates. Maybe some types of messages are only relevant to certain team members.
With clear guidance on where they can find information and how to contribute to the conversation, employees are more likely to get involved.
3. Prioritize two-way communication
Employee communication used to mean leadership speaking to the rest of the organization. But times have changed. And this type of one-way communication now feels outdated.
It’s also ineffective. Organizations with an open communication culture are more inclusive, productive, creative, and collaborative. That’s why the majority of today’s employers strive to give their employees a voice.
To develop a culture of two-way communication, you need:
- communication channels that everyone can use easily and intuitively
- a company culture where everyone feels able to speak out
When you develop a culture of psychological safety, everyone feels comfortable speaking out. Employees are happy to admit mistakes, ask silly questions, and voice criticism. People say more of what they feel, which aids meaningful communication.
4. Provide regular updates
While two-way communication is important, don’t neglect top-down communication. Regular updates from leadership are still important.
They help employees align their work with organizational goals. They support good decision-making. And they give employees the contextual info they need to do their best work.
In office-based organizations, leaders can share the latest company news in short, face-to-face standups.
But when you’re managing a frontline workforce, company standups aren’t always viable. When people are working different shifts in different locations, it’s nearly impossible to get everyone in the same place at the same time.
This is where your chosen communication tech tool can help. Via a company newsfeed post or a video upload, you can share up-to-the-minute info with your whole workforce and keep everyone on the same page.
5. Establish a feedback loop
According to the Harvard Business Review, around 72% of workers believe their performance would improve if they had open, honest feedback.
But effective employee communication isn’t just about giving feedback. It’s also about encouraging employees to give you theirs.
You can support employees to speak up and give their opinions – on processes, the employee experience, leadership, or anything else – in two key ways.
First, by promoting a culture of psychological safety. And second, by making it easy for employees to have their say.
You can use tech tools to launch surveys. Annual surveys that help you benchmark feedback year on year. And pulse surveys that give a real-time view of your company.
Regular one-to-one meetings also build supportive manager-employee relationships. They’re a safe space in which employees can share any concerns or questions.
However, to make this process truly effective, you need to establish a feedback loop that follows these four stages:
- Information gathering – asking your employees for feedback
- Analysis – making sense of the data you’ve collected
- Action – using the data to make a plan of action
- Notification – telling employees what their feedback revealed and what you now plan to do
By creating a feedback loop you keep employees invested in the process. You ensure their participation in future surveys and one-to-ones.
6. Celebrate success
90% of employees find recognition motivating. But celebrating employee success doesn’t just encourage better, harder working.
Peer-to-peer recognition strengthens co-worker relationships. 3 in 4 employees say that the act of giving recognition makes them want to stay at their current organization longer.
And according to Gallup research, employees who regularly get recognition are more engaged, more connected to their culture, and less likely to experience burnout than those who do not.
Gallup also handily outlines the five features of effective recognition. It is:
- Fulfilling – appropriate to the accomplishment
- Authentic – genuine rather than forced
- Personalized – adapted to the preferences of the person being recognized
- Equitable – all employees have the chance for recognition
- Embedded – it’s part of the value and practices of your organization
For frontline teams, recognition has to be intentional. You can’t always highlight employee work in a company standup or pop by a frontline team member’s desk.
This is another way that a tech tool like Blink can help improve workplace communication. Blink’s recognition feature allows both managers and co-workers to celebrate fellow employees.
They can publish a recognition post in the company newsfeed or send a DM. And wherever an employee is working, they get recognition sent straight to their smartphone app.
7. Address conflict promptly
Workplace conflicts often arise because of miscommunication. So simply putting the other tips on this list into action should reduce the number of disagreements you have to deal with.
But some conflict is inevitable. And how you deal with it is crucial. Unresolved conflict can cause negative workplace relationships – and even a toxic workplace culture.
So it’s always best to recognize and tackle conflict promptly. When managers become aware that a conflict has arisen, they need to get both parties together and bring issues out into the open.
This is another area where tech can make a difference. When you conduct company communication over a tech tool, you get access to lots of data.
This data can help you to visualize workplace relationships. You see where positive and negative relationships lie, who likes to chat and who doesn’t. You can then intervene early to support strained relationships and help everyone feel more connected.
Measuring the effectiveness of workplace communication
As with any initiative, when you want to improve workplace communication, you need a clear way to measure progress.
Start by looking at the qualitative data you gather through employee one-to-ones and surveys. Find out what employees think of workplace communication – and what ideas they have for improving it.
You may also like to track a selection of the following key performance indicators (KPIs):
- Content engagement: message open rates; survey response rates; number of post comments and shares
- Content channel engagement: communication tool adoption rate; the number of tech tool logins; employee profile completion rate
- Employee engagement: absenteeism rates; employee turnover rates; employee net promoter score (eNPS); employee satisfaction rates
- Business impact: customer satisfaction rates; sales figures; the number of met and overdue milestones; costs saved
Viewed together, these KPIs will show whether new communication channels and strategies are working to improve workplace communication and overall business results. You can then use these findings to optimize your approach going forward.
How Blink can help your organization with effective employee communication
For frontline organizations, it can be hard to find communication tools and strategies that suit your version of the workforce.
That’s why we created Blink.
Blink is an employee super-app. It allows easy communication between frontline and office-based teams.
With real-time messaging, a company newsfeed, and seamless integrations, Blink is a streamlined communication solution.
Whether you want to ask for employee feedback, notify staff of available shifts, or simply recognize an employee’s hard work, you can do it all within the intuitive Blink interface.
Case study: Elara Caring
Let’s take a look at Elara Caring. They started using Blink because they had a huge communication problem. They were struggling to connect the 32,000 carers who worked for them.
- morale was low
- there was no opportunity for peer-to-peer connection
- annual staff turnover stood at 65%
- managers had to call hundreds of personal phone numbers to book carers onto shifts
Now, 96% of employees say they would recommend Blink. Our app is Elara’s destination for everything – from paystubs to schedules, to the latest company news.
All employees can join the company conversation, receiving critical updates and shift information straight to their smartphones.
They also feel more included in company culture. Employees can connect, share their stories, and learn from each other. They also get regular recognition from peers and managers, plus in-app access to L&D resources.
At Blink, we help companies to improve employee communication. We’re closing the gap between frontline and office-based teams. So organizations can create richer cultures and reach their business goals.
Want to join Elara Caring and lots of frontline businesses like them? Book a personalized demo to see what Blink could do for you.