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Nov 07, 2019

Approx. 14 min. read

Communication in the Workplace: 8 Reasons Why Your Strategy Isn’t Working

Building a great communication strategy in the workplace doesn’t come easy. It requires constant rethinking and the right technology. Most businesses...

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Building a great communication strategy in the workplace doesn’t come easy. It requires constant rethinking and the right technology. Most businesses struggle to measure and identify the elements that are holding their internal communications back.

Poor internal communications can seriously damage your business. It has a direct impact on your employees’ morale, motivation, and performance.

Ineffective communication in the workplace is also strongly connected with poor employee engagement, high turnover, and lower revenue growth.

Your communication is essential to your business’s success and to improve it, you’ll need to identify the reasons why your current strategy isn’t working.

Is it because you’re not sharing enough information, not using the right channels to reach out to your employees, or not measuring the success of your strategy?

Developing a communication strategy that drives engagement in the workplace takes time and effort. Yet, many communication practitioners struggle to identify the reasons why their internal comms aren't working.

To help you with that, we’ve compiled in this blog post eight reasons why your IC strategy isn’t driving the results you expected.

The Importance of Communication in the Workplace

Communication is one of the key pillars of a healthy business. The quality of the communication built in the workplace has a direct impact on employee’s ability to collaborate, meet deadlines, and share new ideas.

Communication in the workplace explained by IC experts

 

In other words, you can’t build a successful business without developing a great communication strategy at your workplace.

Let’s take an example. Imagine you’re working in sales at a company where you can’t find the updated sales decks you need for your upcoming meeting with a client. You’re not informed about the latest changes in the company’s brand messaging and catching up with the company news is tricky. You’re trying to find the information by yourself, unsuccessfully. You ask your colleagues for help, run to another floor to find other colleagues you’ve been referred to but you still don’t seem to find the information you need to prepare your sales presentation for your upcoming meeting with an important prospect.

When you walk in a meeting room for a brainstorming session with your colleagues right after your meeting with your prospect, you realize that your colleagues that work in the same department as you are talking about the new offices the company has just opened in Asia. But you didn't even know that the company was expanding its activity abroad. You’re trying to be part of the discussion but soon realize that you don’t really know what they’re talking about.

It’s pretty awkward and frustrating, isn’t it?

Yet, this kind of situation happens more often than you think. Gallup found that 74% of employees feel disconnected and have the feeling they’re missing out on company news and important information in the workplace.

Broadly speaking, poor communication in the workplace is connected with:

  • Confusion and misunderstanding
  • Misalignment with the company’s strategy — your employees can’t be aligned with your business strategy if they are not even aware of it!
  • Silos across the organization
  • Poor collaboration between team
  • Missed deadlines for important projects
  • Lower employee productivity
  • Poor company culture
  • Frustration and poor employee engagement
  • Lack of accountability
  • Difficulties to retain top talent
  • Poor employer brand
  • Bad reputation

Communication in the workplace is not about sending out standardized information to the entire workforce. Communicating with employees means enhancing dialogues, ensuring that employees are aligned with the company's strategy, and listening to them. 

Related: What Is the True Cost of Poor Employee Communication?

Let's now take a look at the most common communication mistakes that may slow your business down.

8 Workplace Communication Mistakes that May Hold Your Business Back

1. Email Overload Is Creating Confusion Among Your Employees

Employees receive a lot of emails every day. Think about it: the Radicati Group found that employees receive about 120 emails every day. And it takes them 13 hours a week to manage their emails.

Is sending out email newsletters to employees time well spent? Not sure about that. Your newsletters may get buried under other less important emails since 62% of emails received by employees are not important.

how to improve communication in the workplace?Information overload leads to frustration and stress in the workplace. Yet, most IC practitioners are still using emails to communicate with their employees.

Nearly 60% of internal communicators send out emails at least once a week. 19% email their employees once a week, 26% two to three times a week, and 14% daily.

Businesses put lots of time and effort into designing email newsletters, but some of them don’t manage to get their employees’ attention. Indeed, APPrise found that 30 percent of employees don’t read emails from their employers.

And even though most employees open and go through internal emails, they don’t actually read them: just 37 percent of employees read them, and 24 percent click through to open links or images.

Sending out emails to your employees doesn't seem to be the best way to communicate with them.

communication in the workplace: what are the top challenges faced by businesses now?If you want your employees to read and engage with your content, you may want to rethink the way your using emails for your internal comms ⁠— or even drop it — and start using a more effective channel such as an employee communications platform. That way, you can better engage with your employees!

Related: 10 Shocking Internal Communications Stats You Can’t Ignore

2. You’re Dealing with Device Chaos

Most businesses are using multiple tools and channels for workplace communication: intranets, email newsletters, instant messaging tools, collaboration tools, printed magazines, posters, podcasts, video chat tools, and so on. And this is how the workplace becomes a chaos!

How can employees manage to catch up with the company news if they’re having trouble to actually find the information they need?

Overall, just 24% of IC professionals consider they’re using their communication channels in an effective way.

Using several communication channels at your workplace isn’t a bad thing. It allows you to distribute your content adequately, depending on the information you want to communicate to your employees and the type of content you’re about to share.

communication in the workplace: what communication channels to use?Combining several communication channels is also a great way to take your employees’ personal preferences and habits into account when communicating with them. Some of your employees are remote, others may not have a company email address or may feel more comfortable with certain types of communication tools.

The problem starts when you don’t strategically combine the channels you’re using for your IC.

The way a message is communicated is as important as the message itself. When you don’t properly synchronize the flow of information within your organization, some of your content gets duplicated and important messages turn out to be missing or ignored.

When you use multiple communication channels without synchronizing them, you create confusion in the workplace.

As a result, your employees feel overwhelmed with irrelevant information. They may even miss out on critical information which may impact their performance and productivity.

3. You’re Not Communicating the Right Information to the Right Employees

Another reason why your IC strategy doesn’t drive the expected results yet may be because you don’t share the right information to the right employees.

If you want your employees to read your messages and engage with your content, you’ll need to assess your current strategy and find out whether you’re sharing the information they need or not.

communication in the workplace and employee engagementTo do so, you can for example organize pulse surveys or run a focus group so you can identify the topics your employees want to hear about.

A recent survey by Poppulo found that the topics employees are the most interested in are:

  • The company’s acquisitions and growth
  • Business strategy and company goals
  • Financial performance
  • Competitors
  • Company’s mission statement and vision
  • Pay and compensation
  • Company values
  • Employee news
  • Technology
  • Organizational structure

Of course this list of topics may vary from a business to another. That's the reason why you need to assess your current IC strategy and ask your employees what they want to be informed about. It will help you identify the topics you need to cover to drive adoption and engagement at your workplace.

4. You Don’t Let Your Employees Personalize Their Newsfeed

Do you let your employees customize their newsfeed?

Standardized communication isn’t the best way to inform your employees. They work in different departments. They speak different languages and have different roles, interests, and areas of expertise. As a result, they won’t be interested in the same topics or content!

The way we consume information in our personal lives has changed — we expect to find the right information at the right time.

Whenever something we consider important happens, we want to be informed immediately about it. But we don’t want to be overwhelmed with irrelevant information. In other words, we want to instantly get the information we need.

The same happens in the workplace. Employees don't want to get confused. They want to get the information they need to do their job and to better understand the business. 

One of the best ways to make your employees’ daily life is easier is to let them filter out a part of the information they receive from the company the same way they would personalize their own social media newsfeed.

You need to take into account your employees’ habits when designing your internal communication.

We are used to customize the information we get in our social media newsfeed and we expect to be able to do the same at work, it’s our human nature!

However, that doesn’t mean that you let employees deciding on the information they’re going to get from you. By doing so, you may end up with a lack of information and misalignment across the organization which is the last thing you want for your company!

Instead, share important information to your entire workforce through a mobile-first employee communication platform, and give your employees the opportunity to subscribe to optional channels where they can be informed about additional topics they are interested in.

It’s all about finding the right balance between the information you would consider essential and optional content employees can keep an eye on if they want to. Check out here how it works.

5. You’re Not Enhancing Dialogues at Your Workplace

Communicating in the workplace doesn’t consist in sending out information to the workforce. Instead, it involves dialogues and conversations across the organization.

Do your employees ask questions, do they have conversations about the latest company news you shared with them? Do they react to your messages, do they give feedback on how they feel about the organization?

Internal comms are not top-down communications where information is transferred from top management to the company’s staff.

Instead, effective communication is a two-way communication where employees are encouraged to engage with the content they receive, drive conversations, and share feedback.

Related: Internal Communications:  the Shift Toward Two-Way Relationships

When it comes to communication in the workplace, giving your employees a voice is critical. It’s one of the best ways to enhance ongoing conversations all while driving adoption.

Broadly speaking, enhancing conversations in the workplace allows you to:

  • Involve employees in your communication strategy
  • Encourage employees to share their best practices
  • Build trust in the workplace
  • Help employees feel listened to and valued
  • Find out what elements you need to change to improve your internal comms
  • Drive creativity and innovation in the workplace
  • Craft an engaging IC strategy
  • Strengthen your employees’ thought leadership
  • Help employees find meaning at work
  • Drive enthusiasm across the organization
  • Empower employees
  • Create a sense of purpose
  • Improve the employee experience you deliver
  • Strengthen your employer brand from the inside out
  • Connect your employees
  • Create synergy
  • Drive employee engagement

If you're still hesitant to encourage your employees to actively be part of your internal comms, start with small steps.

You can first give your employees the option to like and comment on the content you share with them.

Once you notice that your employees are engaging with your content, you can go further by encouraging them to write short posts or make videos where they would share their best practices.

6. There’s a Lack of Communication Between Your Managers and Their Teams

Communication is the key to building a successful business. It builds trust, enhances collaboration, and improves employee performance.

What’s more, communication is one of the most-requested soft skills. Yet, two-thirds of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees.

the importance of communication in the workplaceThe way employees perceive their managers’ communication skills isn’t better: a poll released by Interact/Harris revealed that 91 percent of 1,000 surveyed employees said their bosses are lacking communication skills.

Respondents said this lack of communication has a direct impact on their morale and motivation because:

  • Managers don’t recognize employee achievements — reported by 63 percent of respondents
  • Don’t give clear directions — 57 percent
  • Don’t have time to meet with employees — 52 percent
  • Don’t talk to subordinates — 51 percent
  • Take credit for others' ideas — 47 percent
  • Don’t offer constructive criticism — 39 percent
  • Don’t talk to employees on the phone or in-person on a regular basis — 34 percent
  • Don’t ask about employees' lives outside of work — 23 percent
  • Don’t even know what their employees' names are — 36 percent

Running a poll survey is one of the best ways to find out whether managers communicate in an effective way with your employees.

It will also help you understand how your employees feel about the way managers communicate with them and their relationships overall.

If the results of your poll survey show that team leaders or top management don’t communicate enough with employees, you’ll need to find ways to rethink team collaboration and communication at your workplace.

How to Improve Communication Between Managers and Their Teams?

In parallel to one-on-one sessions, managers and top management can use an employee communication platform to share important information within their teams or with the entire organization.

For example, they can use an employee communication platform to:

  • Explain in more detail the targets they’ve set for the team and the reasons why they’ve set these targets
  • Explain the strategy the team is going to develop to reach these targets
  • Celebrate their team’s achievements or employees’ performance
  • Run a friendly competition to encourage employees to hit their targets
  • Inform their teams about the company’s financial performance and growth strategy
  • Collect feedback from their teams

Related: Leadership Communication: How to Build Trust in the Workplace

7. HR & IC Don’t Align Their Communication Efforts

Who is driving internal comms at your workplace?

In some businesses, IC or corporate communications departments are in charge of internal comms. In other organizations, IC functions fall on the shoulders of the HR team. The truth is, communication in the workplace involves both IC and HR.

Internal communicators and HR managers need to combine their efforts so they can develop an IC strategy that drives employee engagement in the workplace.

Think about it: HR staff members interact closely with employees as they look for top talent, hire them, ensure their safety in the workplace, manage the onboarding process, and are in charge of developing a great employee experience.

On the other side, IC are in charge of developing and improving the information flow within the organization. They enhance dialogues and conversations in the workplace. One of their top priorities is to make sure that employees get the information they need when they need it, and that they understand the messages shared within the organization.

However, IC and HR usually don’t coordinate their strategies and efforts.

This lack of collaboration results in duplicate work, misalignment across the organization, and a communication strategy that doesn’t drive the expected level of employee engagement.

HR and IC need to work hand in hand to deliver a great employee experience, develop the company’s employer brand, and improve employee engagement.

8. You Don’t Measure the Success of Your Communication Strategy 

Do you track KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your internal communications?

Gallagher’s research found that 12% of internal communication practitioners don’t measure the success of their strategy at all.

Even though this stat is alarming, it’s quite understandable. Measuring communication in the workplace isn’t easy. What KPIs to track? How to track them? Do we need to implement a qualitative research method as well? If so, which one?

You’ll need to identify the KPIs you’re going to track even before launching your IC strategy. The KPIs you’re going to pick have to be relevant to your business.

Put differently, the KPIs you’re going to track depend on the goals you want to achieve with your internal comms. They should help you determine whether your IC strategy has helped you achieve the objectives you’ve originally set.

Related: 4 Smart Ways to Measure Your Internal Communication

how to measure communication in the workplace?In parallel to tracking KPIs, you’ll need to find ways to collect your employees’ feedback. Finding whether your employees understand your messages, the company’s goals and how they contribute to the business’s success is essential.

Final Thoughts

Crafting a communication strategy that enhances innovation and drives employee engagement is one of the most common challenges businesses are facing now.

Keep in mind that communication in the workplace is not only about the messages you share internally. It’s about the way you share them and whether you enhance dialogues with your employees.

Broadly speaking, you need to share the right information at the right time through the right channels. You also need to give your employees a voice and figure out what kind of information they are interested in.

Developing the right internal communication for your organization doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. You’ll need to get both HR and IC on board and measure the effectiveness of your current strategy so you know what improvements need to be done.

Want to learn more about communication in the workplace? Download our eBook “Building a Better Company with Internal Communications” below 👇

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Written by

Valène Jouany

Valène Jouany

Content Marketing Manager

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