The enemy of any business operation? Stagnation. Those who oversee employees know that performance snags happen from time to time; but more often than not, it’s preventable.
The culprit: Ineffective employee communication.
Relationships require effective communication to thrive and it’s no different in the workplace. Learn to manage teams with increased efficiency, starting with this guide. We’ll cover:
- What is employee communication?
- Who’s involved in employee communication?
- Effective communication methods
- Employee communication best practices
Let’s dive in.
What is employee communication?
Effective employee communication is a serious matter, but it can result in a friendly and fun environment for all. Image via Jason Goodman.
Employee communication is the way in which employees share ideas, information, perspectives, goals, and opinions with managers (and vice versa). While this concept emphasizes how employees communicate, the company is responsible for implementing systems that encourage it.
If you’re finessing a long-standing business operation, here are some initial questions to ask yourself:
- What communication methods, tools, and systems are in place?
- Are they working?
- How do you know?
By taking inventory of current systems, you can examine where you are versus where you’re going. Identifying what’s not working is the first step to shifting dynamics in any environment. From there, you can answer the following:
- What employee feedback system fosters clear communication?
- When—and how often—should communication occur between employees and leadership?
- What internal communication strategy will improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and value?
Ultimately, answering these questions may require revisiting your business philosophy. What’s your mission? What employee communication strategy would most reflect your integrity? And if you’re starting a new venture, let the answers to these questions inform your business foundation.
Believe it or not, you’ve already begun drafting up your new company vision. Next steps? Knowing who else is involved.
Who is involved in employee communication?
Sound employee communication starts with identifying your role and intent for each interaction (meetings, emails, surveys, etc). Image via Austin Distel.
When it comes to top-down leadership, tending to certain employee positions can be a blind spot. And while the term “employee communication” sounds like it’s solely employee and leadership-generated, it encapsulates numerous other relational dynamics, too.
Let’s break them down to better understand these roles.
1. Employee-manager communication
Employee-manager communication is the means by which employees seek out their higher-ups for direction, feedback, and support. This form of communication is commonly expressed by way of pulse surveys, suggestion boxes, and discussion forums.
2. Manager-employee communication
The way C-level execs communicate with their employees can make or break anyone’s work experience. This communication method entails formal announcements, progress reports, one-on-one meetings, and performance reviews.
3. Peer communication
Positive peer communication is an integral part of workplace cohesion. Imagine getting to work and not being able to share in confidence, humor, or respect with your colleagues. Peer communication is commonly expressed informally through emails, texts, and social media.
4. Information delivery
While information delivery sounds like everything we’re exploring here, this communication method usually focuses on HR directives, brand messaging, company philosophy, and training.
5. Company culture communications
Given that 4.7 million people work remotely more than half the time, establishing workplace culture is more important than ever. For that reason, team morale and cohesion amongst remote and in-person workers, local and international, should remain top-of-mind.
Methods to achieve it? Video breakout groups, department or squad meetings, communication apps like Slack or Teams, or group projects.
Note: These subsects of employee communication methods are interconnected. Isolate them first to observe them as options, then integrate them with other methods to create a holistic strategy.
6. Administrative or company change communications
Last but not least, changes in administration, leadership, or management often call for all hands on deck. Whether from a company acquisition or a shift in company vision, these communications can influence an entire company’s dynamic.
When adjusting the root of any company structure, communication has to be intentional. This communication tactic can also include crisis intervention for unexpected happenings, transitions, and urgent matters.
Methods of change administration communication? Training for new products or services, whole-company meetings, and step-by-step restructuring.
Alright, so we’ve covered what employee communication means and who it involves. Now? Here’s how to get it done.
What are effective employee communication methods?
Effective employee communication is diverse, consistent, and easily accessible. Image via Christina Morillo.
Let’s start with your employee communication options. Once you know them, you can streamline operations with strategic implementation. In other words, you don’t want to overwhelm your team with a 24/7 bombardment of all systems. Discover when and where to use each method.
Here’s the scoop.
1. Use communication apps like Slack or Teams
Back in the day, AIM messenger and cell phones were prohibited in school settings. Now, workplaces rely on messenger platforms like Slack, Teams, Google Hangouts, Amazon Chime, text, and social media as effective communication platforms.
Of course, these apps aren’t designed for socializing, per se, so implementing this system with proper do’s and don’ts is a must. Keep it at one or two communication apps tops, like Slack for messaging and Google Hangouts for meetings. No need to distract with too much of a good thing. The results? Instant support and strong rapport.
Video calls are an example of synchronous communication, or real-time exchanges, where all parties can receive immediate feedback. Slack can be both synchronous and asynchronous, with heightened possibility for delayed response time. Email is a direct example of asynchronous communication, as few expect to receive an immediate response from this format.
Both forms of communication are beneficial, but asynchronous methods are becoming more prevalent—especially for larger operations. Depending on the urgency of different matters, consider implementing both synchronous and asynchronous types of communication into your strategy.
2. Maximize email communications
Besides being asynchronous, emails are also more formal in nature. While most companies—87% to be exact—use emails for marketing purposes, it’s also the most common method for content distribution. For that reason, using email for internal announcements, survey distribution, or quick Q&A’s is highly effective.
3. Initiate regular one-on-one meetings
Every employee has valuable assets. Without consistent check-ins, there’s higher propensity for communication breakdowns and lack-luster performance.
To ensure positive outcomes, initiate individualized time for each employee, even if it’s just 15 minutes once a week. Designate this time to answering questions, requesting verbal feedback, tracking to-do’s, collaboration, guidance, etc.
For larger companies, having several department chairs, squad leaders, or team managers can ensure each employee is seen and heard.
4. Encourage group meetings
In addition to one-on-one meetings, group meetings are beneficial for cohesion, uniformity, and alignment. The more groups build a collective vision, the more effective the systems. Host group meetings weekly or bi-weekly depending on project needs.
These meetings can be facilitated by department leaders, or co-facilitated amongst the group. Note that the dynamics will be different depending on the method you choose.
5. Offer company-wide meetings
Expanding even further, offering company-wide meetings allow folks to connect with each other regardless of department. Introducing higher-ups to specific individuals is a strategic way to put faces to names and build community culture.
Especially for remote positions, these meetings dually serve to educate each member about company happenings, brand production, product adoption, etc. Company-wide meetings are the most efficient way to build and maintain community, all-the-while ensuring quality control, providing ongoing training, and creating momentum.
Host once a month for an hour to regroup and restructure.
6. Enforce project management systems
Just like project managers oversee project operations, enforcing project management systems has multiple benefits. Implementing platforms like Asana, Monday, Trello, and Jira can:
- Organize tickets in order of urgency
- Provide visual organization for to-do’s
- Keep everyone accountable for individualized tasks
- Provide mental pay-offs when completing tasks
- Offer another means of team communication
- Make it easy to track and assign projects
- Provide timelines for long-term goals
- Inform employees of other company departments
Teamwork does make the dream work, and using a company’s project organization system is unifying. Learning each person’s role can offer a heightened sense of employee value and fulfillment.
7. Implement video trainings
Not only is it crucial to diversify your employee communication strategy, but within each subsect, there should be diversity as well. For example, instead of having the company speakers present on a different topic each month, why not switch things up with video training?
Incorporating video clips is appropriate for any of the aforementioned communication methods—one-on-ones, group meetings, company meetings, or even through email. And no, we’re not suggesting hour-long videos that mimic a live lecture.
Use short clips (no more than 6 minutes) with captions, background music, and narration for optimal resonance. Use them as a complementary and integrated resource within your communication style to feed employee engagement.
8. Optimize engagement through social media
Need a communication method that threads through all of the above formats? Encourage employees to engage with internal social media—have them like and follow your online platforms to stay in the know and observe the user experience.
When employees see how your social media is managed, it can help them better understand the internal ops and feel proud to be part of them. This also includes encouraging employees to download mobile apps and share the company’s assets with their personal network. Where employees find value, momentum naturally builds.
Employee communication best practices
In-person or online, employee communication should be clear, direct, and respectful. Image via cottonbro.
Now that you know what information to deliver, how do you deliver it? Yes, you have systems in place to set up meetings, organize teams, and train employees, but how do you, personally, show up in each setting; as the wizard behind the curtain overseeing it all?
Here are 6 best practices to adopt to ensure seamless employee communication.
1. Set achievable goals
Make company values and priorities known. How can you inspire employees to push themselves (but not too much) to achieve positive outcomes? What are those positive outcomes?
Employees, teams, and companies alike need a sense of direction for purpose-driven motivation, connectedness, and performance.
2. Designate contact people
Every employee should know who their go-to contact person is. As new projects present learning curves, these are the times to communicate more and better.
3. Show by example
Yes, employees should reach out and request their needs, but it’s not 100% their responsibility to do so if they’re unsure of communication protocol. The easiest way to prevent confusion, remain proactive, and high-performing? Show your employees how you’d like to have them communicate.
Make it clear you’re available and accessible for whatever question—no matter how small. At the end of the day, the name of the game is connection and employees need support for optimal performance.
4. Take on a holistic approach
Few resonate with companies that don’t account for real-life humanness. Don’t hesitate to show that it’s okay to check in, take a breath, have emotions, and name them. Thriving businesses need thriving humans. The best way to achieve a healthy relationship with employees? Show them your humanness too.
Note: This dynamic still requires professional boundaries. It’s not appropriate to discuss deeply personal topics with employees, or vice versa. But it is necessary to create a safe environment for employees to be open, honest, and authentic. The workplace should be welcoming, empowering, and inclusive. Success never comes from struggling alone.
5. Be consistent
Just as kids learn best from predictable and reliable parents, communication at work requires the same. Set (and keep) the bar high with a steady communication structure. Map out days, times, and frequency of communication so you remain organized and dependable for your employees.
6. Transform the workplace with employee value
Given the shift from in-person to at-home work, many are immune to change at this point. Still, there are underlying and old societal paradigms involving workplace dynamics that could use some adjusting. Those are:
- That the hustle-and-bustle grind is the necessary lifestyle
- Work is a doing, not feeling environment
- Human value depends on status and achievements in the workplace
- Employees are not seen or valued for their efforts by management
We’re closer than we’ve ever been to creating new workplace narratives in society. If you want to be involved in not just the future of your business, but the future of employee communication as a whole, well, now you are!
The best is yet to come
Implementing an effective employee communication strategy is mutually beneficial, but also non-negotiable. Fluid operations benefit businesses, but they also impact everyone’s mental and emotional health, work ethic, and overall livelihood.
Providing opportunities for personal growth in a well-functioning workplace is the recipe for success. Account for diverse learning determinants—remote work versus in-person, culture differentials, auditory, kinesthetic, and visual processing, mixed media methods, etc.—to access the ever-present and infinite potential of your team and business.
The next step? Start building your communication strategy piece by piece. And remember—clue your people in as you go! Let them know their role, your goals, and how to co-create that vision.
For more on mastering business operations in the workplace, check out how WeVideo can help you achieve your media needs. Try free to jumpstart new and improved employee communication strategies from the ground-up.