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Improving communication in the workplace

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Employees are a company’s most important asset. People who are happy at work create a positive atmosphere, are better at problem solving and provide a better service for customers. If employees feel part of an inclusive and social workplace, they are likely to feel more motivated.

Back in 2013 a survey from staffing agency, Accountemps, found that 33% of HR managers felt that a breakdown in communication is at the heart of most problems with staff morale. A further 38% said that communication is the best way to boost positive feelings among employees.

Fostering a culture within your workplace where colleagues share their opinions, experience and knowledge can be relatively straightforward. It does, however, take time for new ways of working to take root.

Keep your employees informed

No matter how big or small your company, it’s important that everyone knows what’s going on. Although face-to-face communication is very important, you could also try using tools such as:

  • Noticeboards in staff spaces
  • Email newsletters
  • A private Facebook group
  • Internal comms tools such as Slack, Yammer or Facebook for Business

Consider asking your colleagues or employees how they’d like to receive information, and what’s important to them.

Be positive

Thank colleagues who help you out or go the extra mile. If you’re a manager, don’t forget to praise employees for exemplary work or let them know if you have had positive feedback from a customer.

State messages in terms of what needs to be improved upon or is being done well rather than what should be avoided or is being done poorly. This can be more motivational.

Avoid discouraging bad news

If someone challenges a decision, voices a concern or disagrees with you, hear them out. Then calmly tell them the points you do and do not support, and provide an explanation for those you don’t agree with.

Avoid shooting messengers at all costs – this will only result in colleagues or employees withholding information to avoid repercussions.

If you’re a manager, let people know that you’d like them to challenge you if they disagree.

Build connections

When different teams or management levels don’t communicate with each other, the company runs the risk of ending up with an “us vs them” culture. This can apply even to small companies with just a few staff and managers.

Look for ways to build connections between people. This could be something as simple as encouraging colleagues to take lunch or tea breaks at the same time, having a weekly cross-department catch-up or organising a social event once a month.

You can find more tips for encouraging mingling on our blog about creating a social workplace.

Have a common goal

Establish common goals for everyone in the organisation to work towards. This creates a feeling of unity and encourages a similar mindset among colleagues from different departments.

Encourage collaboration

Consider coming up with a way for colleagues across different departments to collaborate and share ideas. This could take the shape of regular meetings, a digital tool (such as an intranet forum, private Facebook group or Slack/Yammer area) or even a suggestions box.

Anonymous methods

People aren’t always comfortable with bringing up their concerns, but they’re more likely to do so if they can be anonymous. You could have a suggestion box for people to slip notes into or, if your colleagues have access to computers, send around an online survey.

Top down

In order for open communications to work, there needs to be buy-in from managers. If management leads by example, then a company’s culture can change and become more communicative.

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