When it comes to running a successful organization, there are many important factors. While it’s often overlooked, workplace communication is one of those factors for success. Take a moment to consider all of the areas of your business that communication is involved. Not only are workplace communication skills important for employers, they are also essential for employees. In the world of remote workforces, we have adapted to new methods of communication. Slacking, Zooming, and emailing are now equally as important as face-to-face communications in the workplace.
Effective workplace communication benefits everyone. In fact, according to the well-known career coach Hallie Crawford, “How well you communicate impacts efficiency, effectiveness, trust between employees, your brand, how you come across as a professional, and much more.”
Benefits of Effective Workplace Communication
Before we break down some of the essential workplace communication skills for employers, let’s take a look at the benefits of improving communication for your organization.
Improved Employee Retention
The standards of communication in any organization are the foundation for the company culture. When employees are respected, free to express their views, and connected to management, company culture truly blossoms. As you can imagine, a strong company culture leads to improved employee retention!
Better Decision Making
Decision-making can make or break an organization. Generally, a great decision cannot be made in isolation – and this is where workplace communication matters. Being open to hearing other opinions and viewpoints can often help with being objective when it comes to important decisions. Being able to communicate a concern or contribute alternatives can also save a company from poor choices.
Effective workplace communication can help increase productivity, as it often determines the behavior of employees. Positive, respectful communication will always yield better results than demeaning, negative communication. It creates greater overall cooperation, and cross-departmental relations, both of which lead to increased company productivity.
Not only that, but effective workplace communication boosts efficiency. It generates clear instructions, detailed explanations and timely message delivery. All of these are key to improving efficiency, eliminating time wasted on repeated instructions and questions.
Enhanced Client/Customer Satisfaction
Customer and client support/service relies solely on effective workplace communication. Employee listening and communication skills determine the interactions and experiences of your customers and clients. Poor communication standards result in negative experiences, which can often lead to loss of business.
Improved Employee/Employer Relations
Echoing back to company culture, workplace communication is the foundation of employee-employer relations. Effective communication on the behalf of the employer makes the employee more comfortable in the workplace. This, in turn, creates open, honest and most importantly, loyal relationships between them. As an employer, you should want to avoid a workplace where employees are fearful of voicing themselves. This creates resentment and dishonesty in the workforce, impacting overall performance.
Essential Workplace Communication Skills
So, if you would like to see the above benefits for your organization, what can you do to achieve this? Let’s break down the workplace communication skills that every employer should improve and invest in.
It’s appropriate to start here with possibly the most important workplace communication skill.
Listening. Although some might consider this a basic ability, not all employers chose to utilize it. In fact, one survey found that only 23% of employees received constructive responses from leaders when they shared their work problems with them, and 17% said their leaders never responded at all. Employers should make time to listen, and ensure that employees feel heard.
Active listening is one of the most important workplace communication skills for any leader. Active listening requires the listener to fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. You make a conscious effort to hear and understand the complete message being spoken, rather than just passively hearing the message of the speaker. Strong listening skills will have a ripple affect across your entire organization.
A common issue among employees is the idea that their employer has no idea what it is like to be in their shoes. Empathetic leadership skills involve the ability to understand the needs of others, and being aware of their feelings and thoughts. Recent analysis has proven that empathy in the workplace is positively related to job performance. Essentially, this means being able to establish empathetic relationships with your people and enhance performance.
As an employer, there are many ways you can display empathy. At a basic level, all employers should actively watch for signs of burnout amongst employees. Lack of empathy from management can create unrealistic expectations, and increase stress for employees. Employers with strong empathic communication skills can identify signs of burnout before they result in absenteeism or worse, turnover.
Openness and Honesty
Open and honest workplace communication creates transparency on behalf of employers. Being open and honest with employees promotes trust and loyalty in the workplace. These communication skills are important from the beginning of any workplace relationship. During interviews, both employees and employers should be both open and honest about everything. Perhaps most important is being transparent about expectations. As an employer, be clear when highlighting the standards expected of the employee. This eliminates the potential for disappointment on both parts.
In fact, when it comes to effective workplace communication, openness and honesty are required on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s related to providing feedback, setting goals, group projects or even new developments in the organization, transparency is absolutely essential.
Communication of Feedback
As an employer, feedback should be a staple in your workplace communications. Providing feedback to employees and colleagues is an essential part of workforce management. While it isn’t always possible to provide positive feedback all of the time, it is possible to frame any feedback in a positive way. In other words, employers should aim to only ever provide constructive feedback. While you may have personal opinions, reserve feedback in the workplace for what will be useful. For example, if an employee makes a mistake, avoid reminding them how detrimental it might have been. Instead, focus on highlighting how they can avoid making the same mistake again, and even breaking down why the mistake might have happened in the first place.
While being able to provide feedback is an essential workplace communication skill, so is being able to receive it. As a leader, you are putting yourself out there for criticism from peers and employees. The key to being an effective leader is being able to take feedback on board and use it to further improve yourself. Without this workplace communication skill, employers fail to understand the needs of their employees. Not only that, but they miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of unique, alternative ideas.
Of course, there are many other factors involved in workplace communication, but these 4 skills provide a foundation to build upon. Once an employer or an employee develops these skills, they will experience a much more positive work environment. As most employers know, having a happy workforce leads to increased productivity and profitability. What more could an employer want, right?