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Communications In The Workplace

Posted On: 09/03/2020

Communicating comes naturally to everyone; it’s an essential part of everyday life. Without it, how would anyone else understand our values, identify what is concerning us, know what our intentions are and how would we be able to ask others for their help and support?

In the workplace, the way employees are communicated to can make or break a culture, it has the power to boost morale or initiate disconnect.

Let’s look at what effective communication is and how your organisation can use it to create a happy, healthy and positive workplace.

Why is effective workplace communication important?

 Organisations who invest time to deliver clear, purposeful communications, and make it their everyday behaviour, reap many benefits both for themselves and for their most valuable asset – the employees.

 It stops misinterpretation and prevents the spread of incorrect facts

These benefits equate to a reduction in staff turnover, an increase in loyalty, recruitment candidates will consider you to be the organisation of choice and with a strong culture you will remain ahead of your competition.

Ways to communicate

There are four main methods of communicating which can be split down further.

  1. Visual. This includes the use of charts, graphs, images and infographs.
  2. Verbal. Speaking face to face, over the telephone and via video conferencing
  3. Non-verbal. Our body language, the way we make eye contact (or don’t) and our gestures can speak volumes.
  4. Written. This can be through emails, newsletters, mobile apps, intranet content and printed publications.

When to choose Face to Face

 It appears likely that we will see this method of communication used more frequently as Generation Z, the latest generational cohort to enter the workplace, favour verbal communications.

This method should be your first choice when delivering a complex, emotional or sensitive message. It adds value by the encouragement of two-way discussions and immediate feedback. Bringing colleagues together in this way and giving everyone an equal voice forms a strong bond.

Speaking verbally ensures answers and solutions are discussed making it the most effective tool for problem-solving or for when a quick decision or answer needs to be provided.

When to choose messaging apps (eg WhatsApp)

Written communications and video messages are no longer exclusively viewed on PCs or laptops. As smartphone technology increases, messaging apps are quickly becoming an essential part of many organisations’ communication strategy.

With flexible and agile working on the rise, messaging apps keep colleagues connected no matter where they are located geographically.  Employees are able to keep up to date with company news, chat to each other, hold video calls and collaborate on documents.

When to choose Enterprise Social Network apps (eg Yammer)

 These apps work like Facebook, a place to share information and where engagement and interaction are pivotal. As the majority of employees are familiar with the way these social platforms work, they are comfortable using this method to communicate within the work environment. They suit modern day working practices.

An ESN not only allows the user to collaborate and keep abreast of the latest company updates with ease, they encourage learning too. Through all the transparent messages and responses, the employer is likely to obtain a significant amount of knowledge without even realising it.

Research also suggests that ESNs reduce ‘email stress’, perfect for improving health and wellbeing.

When to pick up the phone

When you need an answer fast, nothing will beat a telephone conversation. Phones have always been ‘part of the furniture’ and the significant part they continue to play in the work environment should not be overlooked.

In our evolving world, where colleagues may work remotely, often alone, for a significant length of time, a phone call to simply ask ‘how are things?’ will promote good mental health. During a phone call we can convey a lot of emotion and warmth.

A phone call is the second-best option when relaying sensitive information. Face to face will remain the safest option but, due to distance, this won’t always be possible. No-one should ever type security details in an email unless they can be sure the system is 100% safe.

When to choose email

The main advantage of sending content within an email is the evident trail it leaves.

When you send an email, do not expect it to be read immediately. We all know how cluttered inboxes can become and as we endeavour to work smarter and only open emails at certain times of the day, they simply cannot be relied upon for a speedy read and response.

Research has discovered that over 40% of employees have concerns that email content is the main reason for confusion in the workplace, which can ultimately lead to negative feelings and resentment. Our advice here would be never to send a ‘rushed’ email, never leave the caps lock on and never send an email if its content is time critical.

The communication strategy

Communications strategies will differ depending on the issue. You must be clear on the purpose of the communication; for example, is it purely an update, is a response or feedback required or is it part of a lengthy project, such as organisational change?

Once you are clear on the purpose and the goal of the message, you must consider how or what you want your employees to feel. This will shape the inclusive, meaningful content.

Decide on the best method to use and ensure it will reach all relevant employees, including remote workers.

If the communication is to stretch over weeks or months, always provide timelines of when updates can be expected.

Communicate regularly to avoid any disconnect, but not too often as employees won’t appreciate being bombarded with unnecessary information.

When appropriate, encourage two-way conversations. It’s crucial in these circumstances to listen to any feedback, act on it and demonstrate empathy.

We’re Here To Help

 If you require HR support to support your communication strategy, please get in touch with our team of HR professionals on 0161 941 2426.

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