Employee Communication: What It Is And How To Improve It

employee communication meeting

One of the building blocks of a strong business is employee communication. It doesn’t matter if you have two employees or two hundred — without good communication, it’s extremely difficult to lay a foundation for success.

But understanding the ins and outs of communication is often not as straightforward as you might think. In this article, we’ll define employee communication, discuss why it matters, and provide tips to help you improve it in your business.

What Is Employee Communication?

employee communication

Before we examine employee communication in all its glory, it’s worth taking a few moments to back up a step and learn about the foundation of that concept: communication itself.

The formal definition of communication is:

The act of exchanging information, ideas, and feelings through written or verbal means.

As good as that definition is, keep in mind that it’s just the starting point. We can build on this basic idea by incorporating two more variables that are pivotal to our discussion: audience and effectiveness.

In regard to audience, at its most basic, communication happens between two individuals: the sender and the receiver. Employee communication, however, extends beyond that simple concept to include both one-to-one and mass communication.

So, looking at two basic forms of one-to-one employee communication, you might communicate with a team member and they might communicate back to you; or, team members might communicate with one another.

In addition, employee communication also includes mass communication, in which one person may present information to a group, a group may present information to a single person, and a group may present information to another group.

If we add this concept of audience into our basic definition, we come up with:

The act of exchanging information, ideas, and feelings between individuals and groups through written or verbal means.

That definition still doesn’t incorporate the concept of effectiveness. You can exchange information with a lot of words or with very few. But does the person or group to whom you’re trying to communicate understand the meaning of your message?

With effective employee communication, everyone will receive your message accurately, understand how it affects them, and know what to do next — no matter how many words you use.

Adding that concept of effectiveness to our definition of communication, we get:

The act of exchanging information, ideas, and feelings between individuals and groups through written or verbal means in such a way that everyone understands and knows what to do next.

Now that you understand what employee communication is, it’s time to turn our attention to the next important topic: why it matters.

Why Employee Communication Matters

Woman frustrated by her employee communication

1) Prevents Confusion

When you build strong employee communication in your business, you prevent the spread of confusion that can dilute your message.

When your communication is clear, you’ll be better able to resolve problems, build strong relationships, delegate tasks, and motivate everyone to do their best work. Each team member will know what you want them to do the first time you explain.

That saves time and prevents team members from becoming irritated because they’re confused about your instructions.

2) Gives Everyone A Voice

Helping your employees feel less like a group of individuals and more like a team involves ensuring that everyone’s voice is being heard. Effective employee communication makes that possible.

A strong communication system provides each member of your team with an outlet where they can have a say in how things get done.

When your employees feel that they’re being heard and that they are valued within the organization, their performance, engagement, and overall happiness will improve dramatically.

3) Improves Engagement

Your team’s dynamic is like that of a family. As such, your employees will benefit from the same characteristics that make families strong: cooperation, solidarity, and bonds.

Improving employee communication is one way to help your team members build those traits.

Think of it this way: Effective communication leads to employee engagement, employee engagement leads to cooperation, cooperation leads to solidarity, and solidarity leads to strong bonds that can see your team through difficult times.

How To Improve Employee Communication

employee communication meeting

1) Use The Best Method For The Job

As we discussed in the What Is Employee Communication? section earlier, communication takes many forms. In your business, it may range from instant messages and emails to paper memos and hand-delivery to face-to-face conversations with one or many people.

That said, there is a best-possible medium (i.e., method) for different types of communication.

For example, you can quickly and easily communicate a reminder about an upcoming due date via instant message, email, or printed memo.

Major policy change, however, is better served via a face-to-face meeting with the entire team where you can go into detail and answer any questions that may arise.

When considering the right method to use, take a few moments to ask yourself:

  • How would you feel receiving the information?
  • Would an instant message make it feel too impersonal?
  • Would hardcopy be more conducive to accessing the information at a later date?
  • What is best for record-keeping purposes?

Answering these questions can help you transmit your communication in the right format for the job and ensure that your employees receive and understand the message the way you intend.

2) Strive For Clarity

Clarity is vital if you want to improve employee communication. To be as clear as possible, speak (or write) plainly and in a way that is easily accessible to your audience.

Give clear commands when necessary, and refrain from using ambiguous language whenever possible. In addition, try to avoid jargon unless your team uses it often and it simplifies the communication process.

It will take some practice to achieve clarity in all your communication, but the benefits are worth the extra effort.

3) Offer Explanations Whenever Possible

Manager talking to an employee

As a manager or business owner, sometimes you have to make decisions without input from your team and without offering reasons why.

That said, to improve employee communication in your business, offer explanations as much as possible.

For example, rather than simply assigning tasks, take the time to explain why you chose to divide the responsibility the way you did. Then, take it a step further and explain why each task is important, how it supports the rest of the project, and where it fits into the overall plan.

Strive to use, “Do this because…” rather than just, “Do this.” When you do, you communicate vital information about the reasons for a particular task and show employees why their work is valuable.

4) Meet One-On-One

Despite the fact that much of today’s employee communication is digital, it’s still essential to meet one-on-one with your employees now and then.

Whether you set up a weekly, an every-other-week, or a monthly meeting with each member of your team, talking face-to-face — even virtually — keeps the lines of communication open so employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts about their job and the business as a whole.

5) Incorporate Progress Reports Into The Workflow

Encourage strong employee communication by making progress reports a part of your business’s workflow.

Whether they’re face-to-face or written, progress reports help keep you informed about the goings-on within your business, but they also serve as a way to keep everyone on the team abreast of developments that might affect their work.

This is especially necessary when you’re managing a remote team or distributed workforce. Remote employees don’t interact as often as in-office employees, so it’s very easy for information to fall through the cracks.

Periodic progress reports plug those gaps in team communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Simplify Employee Communication With The Right Tools

employee communication app

In business, as in life, the right tool can mean the difference between success and failure, between strong team relationships and weak ones.

When it comes to employee communication, the right tool should make everything easier. It should streamline team communication but also contribute in a large way to other vital aspects of your business, like scheduling, payroll, time tracking, and controlling labor costs.

The one tool that does all that and more is the Inch app. The powerful features built into the Inch suite of software can help you:

  • Organize shifts
  • Keep team members on task
  • Simplify finding substitutes
  • Perfect your field service management
  • Stay on budget
  • Prevent no shows
  • Maximize labor costs
  • Manage overtime

To make communication as efficient as possible, Inch stores all its data in the cloud.

When you need to share written information, documents, or instructions with a team member, simply give them permission in the app and send them a link. They can then access that information anywhere, anytime.

For more direct and immediate exchange of information, you can take advantage of push notifications to communicate more efficiently with individuals and groups of all sizes from a single app. No more trying to force multiple communication platforms to work together.

Inch lets you send messages to individuals or groups, optimize your workforce, and build a more efficient workflow — all in real-time so you can get more done during your busy workday.

All of that within the same app that helps you assign tasks, manage overtime, and keep your business on budget. That’s a powerful tool for effective employee communication and workforce management.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit TryInch.com today.

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