Much like any relationship, the key to maintaining a healthy workplace environment is clear and frequent communication.
The benefits of excellent workplace communication are numerous. According to a study conducted by Optum, businesses that maintain an open channel of communication between coworkers and managers are more productive and see higher rates of employee and customer satisfaction and lower rates of turnover and absenteeism, just to name a few.
These six workplace communication best practices will help you improve communication in your company.
1. Care about your employees as people.
No matter who you are or what your occupation may be, we all have experienced the negative impact stress in one’s personal life can have on your worklife. As a manager, it’s important that you show your employees that you know they have lives outside of work, that you care, and that you’re always available for a conversation. Ask them how their weekend was, how their kid’s soccer game went, how their dachshund’s diet is going, etc. Your employees will feel valued and more satisfied in their work, which will lead to greater productivity and an overall positive environment.
2. Lead by example.
Do you say you have an open door policy? Prove it. Let your employees know that they are a priority, and that you will do your best to make yourself available whenever an employee has a concern or requires guidance. And nothing says “open door communication policy” quite like a literal open door. A closed door is intimidating. An open door invites conversation. So as often as possible, utilize that door stopper.
3. Offer an outlet for anonymous feedback.
Let’s be honest; not all communication is positive, and that’s okay. Many employees are uncomfortable making complaints to their boss, whether it’s regarding an issue with management, an issue with a coworker, or any other change they would like to see in the workplace. Your employees need a way to provide constructive criticism so that the company can continue to learn and grow. A platform such as Officevibe will allow your employees to voice their concerns free from fear of repercussions.
4. Respect cultural differences.
In the age of globalization, the world is shrinking, and your workplace is likely home to a wide variety of cultures. In order to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves, management must be culturally sensitive. To achieve full inclusivity, consider hiring an outside party to lead a sensitivity training class.
5. Give feedback that is clear and precise, or don’t give feedback at all.
This best practice is as straightforward as can be; if you are going to offer constructive criticism to an employee, you must provide examples of the issue, and you must accompany this feedback with an action item. For example, never simply tell an employee, “You haven’t been reliable lately.” Feedback like this isn’t helpful. Instead, say something like, “I’ve noticed you are not hitting deadlines, and there are more errors in your work. Is everything okay?” This way, your employee knows exactly what the problem is and how to fix it.
6. Use the right communication tools.
If you make it easy and fun for your employees to stay in constant communication, they will. Use an office chat tool such as Slack or HipChat to create communication rooms within your company, as well as entire company chats. Chat groups can be both professional and social. Set up a chat room dedicated specifically to social conversations and jokes. This will allow employees to bond and form inside jokes while still working from their desks. In regards to work-related communication, a chat tool saves time and increases productivity by allowing employees to immediately connect with one another and receive real-time responses. But remember, if your question is one that others could benefit from, consider posting the question publicly in your knowledge management solution.
The ways in which your employees communicate with each other and with you is entirely dependent on the example you set and the atmosphere you deliberately create. Whether workplace communication is poor or outstanding, it can have a big impact on revenue, productivity, and employee satisfaction. So value your employees, set a good example, and above all, don’t just talk… listen.