The pandemic has highlighted the world’s significant dependence on companies in the energy, food manufacturing and logistics industries. It’s been a difficult time for frontline employees at businesses in these crucial industries and the pandemic did not create, so much as expose, existing communication challenges in many work environments.
Much of this relates to longstanding communication barriers, such as:
- Limited access to company information.
- Methods that ignore the benefits of mobile communication; such as posters in recreational areas.
- Inflexible lines of reporting that hinder efficient feedback.
Longstanding problematic internal communication creates additional pressures within the ever-evolving communication context of a business. Responses to changes in the operating environment, the identification of new business priorities, risk mitigation strategies and planned reactions to emerging business scenarios, are all imperilled by weak internal communication.
Addressing existing and potential communication barriers is, therefore, a primary consideration when a company seeks to ensure its workforce coalesces around business goals.
More significantly, employees who believe they are being neglected or asked to align with overarching business goals while their unique situations or communication needs are ignored will undoubtedly feel unhappy, resulting in widespread emotional disruption and associated negativity.
So, what are the common reasons for internal workplace communication failures? Some are obvious, others are more insidious. But the following are the most prevalent offenders when it comes to poor company communication:
1. Limited reception
Even if your message is perfect, it can be hampered by poor reception. Some employees will happily receive their information by email, while others prefer a more personal delivery.
This becomes business-critical when communicating with frontline employees. For example, if you only send company news via an email newsletter, it is unlikely to reach frontline employees who may not have company email addresses or access to a computer or laptop.
2. Assuming all information should be shared via the same channel
The topic and urgency of the message will also define the right way for you to communicate. If you need to circulate an urgent message to all your employees, using the same method utilised for sending non-essential information, might not be effective.
Targeted, timely mobile messaging that does not flood your employees’ phones with notifications will result in better workplace communication.
You can also extend your communication channels. For instance, video technology is an increasingly important tool for employee communication.It enables short, personalised messages from the C-suite, allowing you to build a better connection with your employees.
3. Physical distance and dissonance
Historically, frontline workforces are often geographically dispersed from a business head office and other team members. This means physical aspects, such as different working locations or disparate time zones, will aggravate existing communication barriers.
Digitally enabling your frontline workforce will ensure real-time engagement with every employee despite wide-ranging time zones and multiple business locations.
Timeous planning and the right tools can improve how you communicate with your entire workforce and foster improved intra-workforce communication, regardless of where any single employee is based.
4. Inflexible hierarchies lacking reciprocal communication avenues
A chain of command entrenches structure and enhances the framework around which company processes are defined. This sometimes leads to one-way communication, where managers talk at their teams without employees being able to communicate with their managers.
Don’t become bogged down in wide-ranging communication efforts. Employees don’t need to know everything about a business, although it is important to keep them informed about:
- Organisational goals
- Project(s) progress, and
- The overall state of the company
Beyond this, communication should be tailored to address individual performance and promote the development of a communication feedback loop. This makes employees feel they are essential to the business and hold a stake in its accomplishments.
Ensuring your communication is relevant to the information needs of your employees will contribute to an involved, productive, and emotionally invested workforce.
5. A stressful work environment
Frontline workers endure a significant amount of stress as a result of their daily responsibilities (whether they work in retail, automotive manufacturing, shipping, mining, food manufacturing or energy). Their workplace performance is often closely linked to key organisational metrics such as revenue generation, production output and customer service.
Communication systems that facilitate the transmission of messages and provide for effective feedback are vital tools for these workers. These systems can for instance be used by unit managers to share progress toward business goals and enable workers to communicate recurring work challenges, which frustrate them.
Ultimately employees need to be free of communication constraints so they can concentrate on their business functions, secure in the knowledge that accessible communication channels exist if needed.
A leader’s quick guide to improved internal communication
Understanding how you can lead your workforce to better communicate is the first step to solving your current workplace communication issues.
- Pay attention to how people communicate. Understand your employees’ various and varied communication methods.
- Provide the right tools. Your employees are a diverse group of individuals who will have multiple communication requirements. Ensure they have the right tools to communicate more effectively.
- Provide the necessary resources. For instance, you might need to provide training to assist your employees in communicating effectively with their colleagues.
- Be transparent. By being open about the organisation’s overarching goals (and progress toward these), you will keep everyone informed equitably. This means your employees will know how their contributions are making a difference.
- Be willing to learn and improve alongside your workforce. You will need to be intensely involved in developing the solutions to improve your organisation’s communication methods. That means acknowledging your role in both the challenges and solutions.
- Empower your team to communicate constantly and consistently. Provide a solution for real-time employee communication allowing employees to get answers they need to do a good job timeously.
- Focus on the solutions. It could be as simple as extending tasks timelines or adapting team communication and interaction. Gather feedback from everyone to form a complete picture of what you need to change or improve.
- Present the benefits. If you are tackling a culture of poor communication you have to present an attractive image of the change you are promoting.
Fixing poor organisational communication requires full participation from all tiers of a workforce. Your strategy must therefore include a full assessment of current communication channels and challenges. This will form the basis for long-term, sustainable solutions.
As an industry leader in digital employee communication solutions, Wyzetalk can help improve your employee experience. Click here to talk to an expert today and find out how you can streamline your internal communications