Employees who communicate and work well with one another are key to any successful business. A team that works like a well-oiled machine is the catalyst for consistent results. But how do you achieve this kind of team?
Internal communication must be a priority. It makes free-flowing open communication and collaboration throughout your company possible. A tight-knit, highly productive team is the result of effective internal communication as well.
This was illustrated during the height of the pandemic. Even with social distancing regulations in place and employees working from home, employers with effective internal communication systems were able to proceed normally. And even though the pandemic has waned, COVID-19 is still around, and it’s important to maintain your internal communications in case a similar situation occurs again.
Let’s further discuss the importance of internal communication and its effect on employees. Then, we’ll leave you with the best ways to facilitate good communication and collaboration to ensure your team stays informed, engaged, and working collectively toward company goals.
Effective internal communication is critical
Ineffective internal communication can be detrimental to a business. When employees aren’t in the habit of talking to and working with each other, the entire operation becomes chaotic, unorganized, and inefficient.
For example, it takes longer to complete team projects when everyone isn’t on the same page about goals. In addition, employees can’t get the information they need promptly when organizational silos exist and workers are unwilling to share information across departments.
Another significant reason effective internal communication is critical is its connection to employee well-being.
Working long hours becomes common and Individual workloads get bigger when there’s no teamwork. Also, a lack of communication and support from upper management frustrates employees and leads to unhappiness in their roles.
As a result, employees become burnt out. The long-term effects of burnout include:
- Mental distance from the job
- An inability to concentrate
- Poor performance and a lack of motivation
- Frequent tension headaches and migraines
- Chronic stress that weakens the immune system
- Increased risk of ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues
- Become more likely to deal with stress through substance abuse
- The onset of anxiety, depression, or another mental health challenge
- High blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues like heart palpitations
Effective internal communication practices can lessen the stress employees are under. The team can easily determine how to best approach each project to ensure equal workloads. They’ll also be more likely to lean on each other when they’ve formed genuine relationships through communication and collaboration.
How to foster effective internal communication and unify your team
The best internal communication strategies are created with the unique needs and duties of the team as well as company goals in mind. However, there are general best practices for fostering effective internal communication. Use and tweak them as needed to unify your team.
Determine where you’re weak
You first need to know where you stand with internal communication before you can make productive adjustments to improve it. So, the first order of business is to audit how your team currently communicates and collaborates to determine where you’re weak.
Answering the following questions will help:
- Do we have a definitive internal communication strategy?
- What are current employee engagement levels like?
- What’s your ideal internal communication vision?
- What do we have to do to get to this vision from where we are?
- What communication and collaboration tools are we currently using?
- What are the policies and procedures for sharing and accessing information?
- How does top management communicate with middle managers? What about lower-level employees?
Clearly defining where you are when it comes to internal communication will help you figure out where you want to be and how to achieve that vision.
Make sure top managers adopt effective internal communication first
Effective internal communication starts from the top. If top managers, like the CEO, executives and business unit heads don’t care about internal communication, how can they expect their employees to know what they need to?
Top managers need to show tangible support for internal communication and the IC team by going first. They need to lead by example to inspire better employee communication. This could look like:
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Mastering all communication and collaboration tools
- Participating in employee bonding events and activities
- Using company communication channels daily
- Doing regular walkthroughs to determine how to improve
- Working on projects with lower-level employees
If you want employees to adopt effective internal communication practices, make sure management is doing it first.
Implement the right communication and collaboration tools
How well employees work together depends largely on the tools they’re using to support communication and collaboration. Yes, face-to-face interactions are critical. But when those can’t take place, communication and collaboration still need to go on. That’s where tech tools come into play.
For example, let’s say you’re in charge of managing communication and operations across multiple inventory locations. There won’t ever be a time when everyone is in the same place, so relying on face-to-face communication isn’t possible. Instead, franchises or businesses with multiple locations may run into communication issues that ultimately lead to problems in inventory. These issues cause almost $2 trillion of losses for businesses.
Whether you manage multiple locations or not, you can optimize how everyone communicates with the help of inventory management software and warehouse management software.
The former ensures everyone has access to the same inventory data, such as stock levels and when products are delivered. The latter gives visibility into more detailed warehouse operations, like picking and packing, shipping out products, and processing returns.
When everyone has access to the same information in real-time, it’s easier to complete tasks and serve customers efficiently.
Here’s a list of tools that can help facilitate effective internal communication for better engagement and productivity:
- Video-conferencing software
- Instant messaging platform
- Project management solutions
- Employee monitoring software
- Company intranet or forum
- Digital meeting room and brainstorming tools
- Customer relationship management (CRM) system
This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list. So, continue researching good tools for internal communication and collaboration to ensure you’re making the best choices for your unique team and business.
Continuously improve employee engagement
According to Gallup experts, employee engagement is, “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.” Essentially, if your company culture is thriving and your employees are regularly interacting and communicating with other employees, you know your internal communication is equally thriving as well. After all, internal communication and employee engagement are inherently intertwined. If one starts to fail, so does the other. If you don’t prioritize internal communications, employees may feel disengaged or even resentful towards the workplace.
This is an unfortunate all too common occurrence, as well. Gallup surveys found that only about 33% of US employees reported feeling “engaged at work” in 2023, and about 16% were “actively disengaged,” which is actually a marginal improvement over the 18% disengagement of recent years. Actively disengaged employees are disgruntled and disloyal because most of their workplace needs are unmet.
Top quartile business units and bottom-quartile business units and teams had the following average differences in business outcomes:
Top quartile business units
- 23% greater profitability
- 10% increased customer loyalty
- 81% less absenteeism
- 43% lower turnover
- 64% fewer cases of safety accidents.
There are many ways to maximize employee engagement. For example, setting up a recognition program will help employees feel appreciated and valued, making them more likely to give their all at work.
A few other helpful strategies to drive employee engagement are:
- Adding gamified elements to projects to facilitate healthy competition
- Fostering a sense of purpose and direction with definitive company goals
- Organizing team-building activities and social outings to encourage employee bonding
- Setting up employee resource groups (ERGs) to promote idea-sharing and networking
Of course, internal communication is another essential way to engage employees as well. If you aren’t prioritizing internal communication, they may feel isolated and not that attached to the organization. However, a highly communicative workplace is more likely to engage its employees on a daily basis, therefore reducing overall burnout.
Ensuring internal communication is strong in your business is essential for success. Employee well-being, team productivity, and company goals are at stake if you don’t.
An audit of your current internal communication practices is the first step in fostering effective internal communication. Take it and adopt advice in this article to ensure teams stay informed, engaged, and aligned with business objectives.
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