Communication in the workplace can be challenging, but it is essential to the success of any business. Effective workplace communication can lead to better understanding and collaboration among employees, which can in turn lead to improved productivity and a more positive work environment.
However, communication is not always easy, and it often breaks down. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as differences in communication styles, personality clashes, or a lack of understanding about what is being communicated.
When communication breakdowns occur, it is important to take steps to address the issue. This may involve having difficult conversations, but it is important to remember that effective communication can help resolve problems and improve the workplace
With some effort, you can develop the communication skills of your employees and create a more positive and productive work environment.
Why is communication important in a workplace?
Communication in the workplace is important because it allows co-workers to collaborate and work together more effectively.
With a culture of open communication, team members will feel more comfortable sharing ideas and concerns. As a result, the workplace can become more productive overall.
Effective communication skills also help managers keep track of what their employees are doing and how well they are performing, as employees will be more honest in their work progress.
What are the benefits of effective workplace communication?
Having good communication in the workplace is really important. But are there more reasons to invest time in improving workplace communication?
The short answer? Yes. Why?
- It provides purpose: Effective communication empowers employees by providing the clarity they need to perform their roles with confidence.
- It eliminates confusion: Miscommunication can create a lot of workplace confusion. With ineffective communication comes lost productivity, more mistakes from employees, and could lead to reduced employee engagement.
- It builds a positive workplace culture: Effective communication in the workplace can create an environment where employees feel respected and understood – boosting morale and enhancing productivity.
- It creates accountability: When everyone understands clear instructions and their responsibilities, it provides them with an incentive to perform at their best.
Read more: Why do employees leave a workplace?
The key to effective workplace communication
It’s clear that good communication is key but how do you make sure your whole business is communicating effectively? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve listed some effective techniques to encourage open workplace communication.
1. Open meetings
The first tip for effective communication is having regular open meetings with your team. It’s easier to communicate any hot topics, passion projects, thoughts, feelings or concerns to your team in an open meeting.
In this kind of environment, the whole team will not only hear what you’re saying, but they’ll also see and feel it, as well as be able to voice their opinion in response.
This will also encourage employee communication where the whole team can sit down face-to-face and discuss any pressing matters or projects that will need the whole team’s involvement.
For example, at Employment Hero, the marketing team has a weekly Monday WIP — in this meeting we discuss everything we worked on the week before and all the important things planned for that week.
That way everyone is aware of what’s going on and what they’re responsible for, as well as a chance to speak out and ask questions.
For super official matters, communication channels like email still remain important. It will enable you to pass messages to members of your team without pulling them out of their workstations.
It also leaves a paper trail, so written communication is important when a big decision has been made.
3. One-on-One meetings
Some of your employees will understand things better when you take them aside and talk to them on a one-on-one basis. Get insights on how your employees are really feeling with our list of one-to-one questions.
They are also good for:
- Team building between you as a manager and your team member. Most people have a basic human need to feel validated. Face-to-face communication lets them know that their insights are appreciated and taken into consideration.
- They improve employee productivity as it provides a high-level overview of current work in progress.
- It allows you both to give more valuable feedback without them feeling uncomfortable doing it in front of the entire team.
- You can check in on your employees’ personal life and professional goals
Download our one-on-one meeting template
4. Give and receive feedback
Effective feedback, both positive and negative, is good for business. Feedback can give valuable information that will be used to make important decisions in the long run.
It’s a great way of allowing two-way communication throughout your workplace.
Effective feedback has benefits for the giver, the receiver, and the wider business too. It’s always there, even if you don’t actively set up feedback practices like surveys or performance appraisals.
It is important to practice clear communication when dealing with feedback, as both parties involved (whether providing or receiving feedback) need to know they’ve been heard and understood.
When team members effectively communicate their challenges and expectations, it can be a great motivation tool for your workers and improve their overall performance.
Having an open culture of providing feedback is one of the most important aspects of effective team collaboration.
Download our professional development plan template
5. Have an open door policy
Having an open door policy doesn’t literally mean you leave your door open. It’s a management style that means you’re more accessible and interactive with your team.
Making yourself more available to your employees can increase your level of involvement with the team and strengthens loyalty, commitment, and confidence.
If your employees know that you value them and encourage interaction, they will be more comfortable communicating any challenges to you and can strengthen the relationship between you and them.
6. Use presentations
Have a new idea you think could revolutionise your business? Or been working on a project for a long time and you’re finally ready to communicate your findings?
Presentations are a great communication technique in the workplace to share larger ideas with your team or business. Get creative, make them engaging and ensure you get your point across.
Businesses can use presentations to inform, educate, motivate and persuade not just their internal team but also external audiences.
A well-crafted presentation also demonstrates professionalism and helps to reinforce a more complex idea into something that’s easily digestible by everyone.
7. Use communication tools
You want your entire workforce to be able to communicate between themselves, especially when your business is working remotely. Create a workplace communication channel where employees can share knowledge, discuss plans or arrange meetings in a casual setting.
A common and handy tech tool we would suggest is Slack. We also have HeroThanks, which allows our employees to give shout-outs and thanks to other employees when they do something great! It’s just another great way to keep communication channels open amongst the entire company.
These days, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your team is communicating effectively and feels connected. Collaboration software like Slack or HeroThanks can be useful tools when working from home or remotely.
Working remotely? No worries, with these communication tools in place, you’ll ensure a smooth and steady workflow amongst employees.
Communication in the workplace isn’t all about talking. Listening skills are an important part of effective and positive communication. How well do you listen to your employees or coworkers when they’re communicating something to you?
You want everyone in your team to feel valued and respected and like their voice is being heard. To do this, you need to be a great listener.
There you have it, some great ways to encourage effective communication in your workplace.
But, what happens with the other communication channels that you can’t keep track of or have control over?
What is informal communication in the workplace?
Informal communication in the workplace takes place outside the formal communication structures that we listed above. You may have heard the saying ‘heard it on the grapevine’ — anything on the grapevine is an informal means of communication.
This type of communication isn’t backed by any predetermined channels and can happen anywhere within the business. Whether that’s people talking over lunch or when they bump into each other on the commute to work.
Examples of informal workplace communication
Since it’s not defined by any channels, messaging moves a lot faster, but it’s without any paper trail or official documentation.
Some informal methods of communication in the workplace could include:
- Gossip, speculative conversations
- Unofficial discussions
- Spontaneous advice and suggestions
- Facial expressions and body language
- Silence and no-response
Let’s look at the potential risks and benefits this type of communication can have on a business.
Why is informal communication in the workplace bad?
Informal communication amongst colleagues comes with a few consequences to your business. It’s something that should be monitored closely and avoided in certain situations where possible.
Here are a few of the main consequences that this type of communication can have on your business:
- It can’t be controlled by leaders or management, they have no say in what employees in their workforce are talking about or listening to
- News can spread quickly; this is problematic if the news they hear isn’t exactly true. Before you know it, your whole business will be talking about something that’s not true. Employees also might take what they hear at face value before they know all the facts. This is problematic because it gets people spreading incorrect information.
- The original message or information may change as it passes down the grapevine. Did you ever play Chinese whispers as a kid? Imagine that but on a MUCH larger scale. It can cause a message or business news to be distorted, making the end result a big mess for you to clarify and sort out.
- Informal communication can also cause gossip and speculation which isn’t good for morale and doesn’t constitute good company culture.
Are there benefits of informal workplace communications?
It’s not all doom and gloom. Sometimes informal communications have workplace benefits as well. For example:
- Informal communication can encourage an interchange of ideas amongst colleagues and coworkers from different areas of the business. It can be a big innovation driver, and some of your most successful ideas could come from two co-workers having a chat over a coffee.
- It can also help increase team spirit amongst your business and gives everyone a sense of inclusion. If the team can get together and have an open discussion about the business in an informal environment it makes everyone feel a lot more relaxed, open and honest. They will feel like they’re part of the team rather than being singled out to talk about something on record.
- It can often solve problems before they are taken into serious consideration. For example, if a colleague is always showing up slightly late, having an informal word with them first might solve the issue before you have to set up a whole investigation with someone higher up.
Australian resources for communication in the workplace
The Australian Fairwork Ombudsman states that good communication practices can help prevent or resolve workplace issues. Employers and employees are responsible for good communication, and there are a number of resources that can help.
If issues arise in the workplace, an open and respectful conversation can help. Raising any issues or concerns early can prevent small issues from becoming bigger problems:
Employees, just like employers, have a responsibility to make sure they communicate effectively. If a question is raised about a workplace issue, communicating with the employer about it should always be the first step.
There are a number of resources to help facilitate conversations with an employer:
- An employee’s guide to resolving workplace issues
- Effective dispute resolution guide
- Difficult conversations in the workplace
Good communication for employers starts by ensuring employees are comfortable raising issues or concerns with management. Awards and agreements should be available and easily accessible to staff, clearly stating the relevant classifications to help staff understand expectations around raising an issue.
There are some helpful templates that will allow you to set out clear expectations for employees’ workplace behaviour.
The Wrap Up
Effective communication when working (whether in the office or remotely) is essential for your business’s overall health. However a lack of or inappropriate communication like gossip can lead to low morale as well as impact the reputation of your business. So you might consider making written communication rules and guidelines for your workplace.
You should create multiple ways for your team to communicate openly, both within your team and across the whole business.
It’s a way for employees to share ideas, overcome challenges and brainstorm solutions – it’s a way to grow your business by allowing your top talent to communicate freely and openly.