A recent survey revealed that four out of five employees feel stressed because of poor workplace communication. This might mean that 80 percent of us aren’t getting the information we need to do our jobs well or understand how we can support the company’s purpose or goals. This adds anxiety to our working life. For leaders, it adds another reason to focus on communicating well to help boost retention, productivity and profitability.
Does this finding match what you’re seeing or feeling at your organization, or are there opportunities to try new ways to engage your teams and build on what’s going well? Consider this spring cleaning checklist to refresh your workplace communication:
Answer core questions. The backbone of effective internal communication is creating consistent, meaningful content. Employees want to know the answers to three basic questions: Where is the company going and why; how does my team contribute; and how do I fit in? Employees should know these answers based on regular messages they hear or read from leaders, and what they observe of leader behaviors. If leaders don’t proactively communicate in words and actions where the company is going and why, then employees may fill in the blanks for themselves. In essence, we all have a desire to understand what’s in it for me (WIIFM) – and communication needs to focus on this.
Allow for push-and-pull communication. In our personal lives, we’re used to getting information that we can access anytime, anywhere. This expectation can carry over into the workplace. Make it easy for employees to know where to go to pull at-the-ready information that’s important to them – e.g., HR/benefits-related documents, company goals and results, employee recognition. Workers can review materials or articles on their own time from wherever they may be. This “pull” of information can be balanced with timely announcements or information that’s pushed out to employees.
Customize. Tailor communication to employees, both in terms of message and medium. For example, the CEO may deliver a brief video message with big-picture progress and perspectives. But it’s the manager who should be equipped to “translate” what it all means to an individual location or team.
Assess, ask and adjust. Review any metrics or feedback you track on various communication channels. Are they meeting your goals for informing, engaging or driving action? If not, determine how to make any necessary content, delivery or timing shifts – even if it’s to test a new approach. If you don’t know what’s working – ask! Talk with employees about what information and channels they value most (and least) and why. This can be done through one-on-one conversations with a sampling of people at various locations and levels, or through informal focus groups. Act on what you learn.