Before we get into the depth of what employee communication is all about and its significance in the workplace, let’s understand the term with a simple example.

It’s 10:30 AM on a Thursday, and George Lyons, a hard-working and super-productive sales executive, is preparing for an important meeting with a potential prospect.

As a high-flier millennial, George is stressed over an email he received from the prospect, inquiring about a feature she wanted and how that will be the ultimate deciding factor for the product purchase. Reading this, George immediately sends a message to the product manager, asking to confirm the possibility of the feature to persuade a sale.

George’s email chimes, and he checks his phone a few minutes before meeting the potential prospect. The email turns out to be a company newsletter with a subject line: Upcoming Office Event. Well, not the kind of response he was impatiently waiting for, and now, he’s frustrated.

Little did he know that the newsletter also included the announcement of the feature (which the prospect was inquiring about) as one of the key elements of the upcoming release.

If only he had read the newsletter properly, or even better, if George’s company had a workplace intranet that could keep him aware of the significant product feature updates, he would have easily impressed the prospect rather than leaving her disappointed during the meeting.

From an organizational or business perspective, this example teaches five crucial lessons:

  • 👉 Lesson #1: Effective employee communication is vital
  • 👉 Lesson #2: Poor communication can negatively impact a company’s growth
  • 👉 Lesson #3: Communicating major updates across the company is vital
  • 👉 Lesson #4: Having a robust people engagement platform is more important than ever
  • 👉 Lesson #5: Besides missed sales opportunities, ineffective or poor employee communication can wreak havoc on multiple aspects of a business, which includes employee engagement levels, employee turnover rate, customer service, project delivery deadline, litigation cost, and shareholder returns.

Today, the seamlessness of employee communication in the workplace dictates how operations occur and the tangible impact on RoI. Effective communication is the foundation of an engaged workforce, and let’s understand this in detail with some interesting examples.

What is Employee Communication

Employee communication simply means sharing ideas, feelings, and information between employees and employers of a company.

Before the pandemic, employees relied on real-time collaboration and synchronous communication with their peers. But this isn’t the case anymore.

Since remote working environments are here to stay, there’s a dire need for employers to:

  • Rethink their employee communication strategies
  • Adopt asynchronous communications
  • Keep the employees well-informed
  • Eliminate cross-departmental silos
  • Improve employee experience
  • Reduce information overload
  • Make sure there’s a social intranet for employees to stay connected

Employee communication is vital for a business’s success. It is the ‘glue’ that holds a company together. An effective communication strategy helps improve employee productivity, employee engagement, and workplace collaboration. All of these build a strong company culture.

How you communicate your company’s vision, values, and strategies directly impacts your employees' feelings about your company.

Now that you have understood the basics of employee communication, let’s know the types and their importance with some interesting examples.

Types of Employee Communication

From an organizational standpoint, the main objective of ‘communication’ is to ensure successful functioning. No matter what channel it is, business communications happen either internally or externally.

Speaking of internal and external communications, should you consider them as two different entities? Yes. Because they have distinct goals, deliver messages to various audiences, and support the business in multiple ways.

But should they work independently? Absolutely not, because they both have to align the efforts and ensure that their messages are straightforward and unified.

While both types of communications are essential for a company’s growth, the difference between them is the environment in which they happen.


Internal vs. External Communication: The Key Differences

Parameter

Internal Communication

External Communication 


Objective

When the exchange of opinions, suggestions, facts, and information occurs within the members of an organization, then the communication is internal.

When the exchange of information occurs between a company and an entity or a person from any other external environment, then the communication is external.

Participants

The parties involved in internal communications are employers and employees.

The parties involved in external communications are suppliers, customers, dealers, shareholders, or investors.

Classification

Internal communication can be:


  • Horizontal: ​​The communication happens between individuals of the same level in the company’s hierarchy

  • Vertical: The communication happens between employees but on various hierarchical levels such as upward (from employees to leaders/managers) or downward (from leaders/managers to employees)

External communication can be:


  • Formal: Creating a suitable company image through reports, newsletters, presentations, web pages, or press releases

  • Informal: Occurs in a way that organizations cannot regulate it directly.

Form

Both formal and informal

Mostly formal

Frequency

The frequency of internal communications is higher.

The frequency of external communications is lower than internal.

Mode

Emails, chats, announcements, surveys, seminars, presentations, meetings, audio/video calls, training, and workshops.

Social media posts, advertisements, press releases, print, client meetings, and television.

Key Benefits

Effective internal communication benefits an organization in various ways:

  • Motivates employees

  • Fosters a happier workplace

  • Increases employee productivity

  • Makes attaining goals easier

  • Reduces internal conflicts

  • Enables faster decision making

  • Improves HR practices

  • Aligns different departments

  • Builds employee trust

  • Increases transparency

Effective external communication benefits an organization in various ways:

  • Foster new relationships with other companies

  • Showcase a collective front of your company

  • Promote your organization

  • Decrease the chances of mistakes

  • Help spread the word about your brand

  • Provide information about products & services to consumers

What is Effective and Ineffective Employee Communication

Communication is the true essence of life. We send and receive millions of messages every day, both verbally and nonverbally. Be it the president making an important speech, a teacher taking a class, or a business promoting its product, communication has immense power to change society, culture, and people's lives.

Effective communication creates positive connections between people, whereas ineffective communication creates confusion, conflict, low morale, and frustration. Let's understand this in detail.

Signs of Effective and Ineffective Communication in the Workplace

Effective communication

Ineffective communication

  • Regular & consistent communication

  • Use of good vocabulary

  • Two-way communication

  • Open and clear communication

  • Friendlier atmosphere

  • Jargon-free discussions

  • Brief and to-the-point talks

  • Consistent messages

  • Recognizable employer brand

  • Alignment with the company’s vision, mission, values, and culture

  • Improper tone of voice 

  • Inappropriate word choice

  • Increase in misunderstandings

  • Damaged work relationships

  • Distrust among employees

  • Increase in hostility and anger

  • Decrease in productivity

  • Low employee engagement levels

  • Delay in getting the work done

  • Misalignment with the company’s vision, mission, values, and culture

What is Effective Employee Communication in the Workplace

Good communication in the workplace isn't just about preventing potential conflicts (although that's a key advantage). Effective communication plays a crucial role in building solid relationships, team effectiveness, employee engagement, and business profitability.

The secret to effective communication in the workplace is not just about communication. It's about understanding. With that said, here is a list of factors that make employee communications effective in a work environment. If you already have these in place, then great, but if not, then it's high time you rethink your communication strategies.

1. Mitigated conflicts

Most conflicts in the workplace arise due to poor communication, which leads to tension, stress, and employees misunderstanding what is being communicated. Sadly, it doesn't stop here. Misunderstandings further result in employees and other organizational members feeling demotivated, disrespected, and disregarded.

Suppose a team member is asked to send 25 emails to potential customers in a day, whereas another member of the same team (and in the same position) is asked to do 50 emails per day. In that case, the employee who's asked to execute more feels that they have been taken advantage of. But if the team leader sets up a meeting with the team members, communicating and clarifying how many emails each of them is supposed to execute, the chances of conflicts are less.

2. Enhanced employee engagement

Effective communication goes beyond just ensuring that the information is received accurately. It connects others and keeps lines of communication open between employees and other members. This openness in work leads to higher employee satisfaction and ultimately drives employee engagement.

Good communication helps management understand the needs of their employees and the factors that drive motivation in them much better. It makes work more enjoyable and creates healthy relationships between employees, managers, and C-level leaders of the organization.

3. Positive workplace culture

A recent HBR report said that effective communication in the workplace provides a clear window to its culture. A company's principles, ideologies, policies, and rules form its culture, and effective communication paves the way to achieve that.

The way employees interact internally and with others externally has a lot to do with building a healthier workplace culture. This can be accomplished only when there is transparency in communication at all levels. Have a culture of open communication that fosters an accepting and positive environment where every employee feels equal, cared for, and understood.

4. Better client relations

Communication affects client relations directly. An organization that communicates well with its clients or customers are more likely to create solid relationships and retain them for longer than an organization that doesn't prioritize good communication.

Communicating effectively improves client relationships and potentially adds more leads to a business. It develops trust and articulates the needs, challenges, and expectations clearly.

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What is Ineffective Employee Communication in the Workplace

While it takes time and effort to establish effective employee communication, ineffective employee communication grows like an unnecessary weed when no attention is given.

Ineffective employee communication stems from a poorly aligned strategy, a failure to execute the strategy, using the wrong communication vehicle, bad timing, and even nuances such as word choice or tone of voice. Its impact increases the chances for misunderstandings, damages relationships, breaks trust and increases anger and hostility.

Here's an outline of what ineffective communication looks like in a workplace.

1. Botched strategy

  • You may have strategies of all kinds, but it’s a complete waste of time and money if it doesn't work. The fundamental idea here is to connect your employees internally and build a camaraderie that would, in turn, profit the company and the culture in more ways than one.
  • If your messaging strategy, effort to build infrastructure and culture based on connectivity, aligning the company’s vision, wording your thoughts improperly, or anything else fails, the whole structure collapses gradually.

2. Bad communication practices

  • Poor communication could spoil the pot regardless of how new or old your communications program is. This, in turn, obstructs engagement and innovation altogether.
  • In addition, the pitfalls of inadequate or poor communication can lead to a lack of connectivity for your employees, teams, and company culture at large.

3. Unsuccessful collaboration

  • Collaboration once used to be a “soft” subject or often a “nice-to-have” category. However, it is no longer the case. Collaboration is the central part of essential business processes.
  • Remember, communication and collaboration go hand in hand. If you are not communicating effectively, it’s unlikely that you will collaborate effectively. When both these factors are misaligned, they lead to workplace failures, and not resolving them makes things worse. It causes friction, breaks trust, impacts morale, and delays outcomes.
  • Ineffective communication = Ineffective collaboration. No doubt. But it even goes to the extent that some employees start feeling superior over others, which damages both relationships and team spirit. The workplace soon starts to see a “what’s in it for me” attitude, which infects the entire environment, causing demotivation and disinterest in the ongoing work. That’s how deep ineffective communications can hurt.

4. Poor connectivity

  • They say that even the largest fire begins from a tiny spark. This phrase stands true for ineffective communications. What starts as a slight miscommunication becomes a significant issue, creating deeper dents in workplace relationships. It reaches a point where teams begin to see themselves as competitors and rivals rather than good collaborators. They remain unreceptive to all those creative ideas of others.
  • Poor communication can result in rumours and gossip, resulting in friction and tension between peers. While gossiping might seem like a pastime, the truth is, it makes matters just worse. It breaks bonds between team members and colleagues, which can’t be easily repaired.
  • Ineffective communication ruins the best relationships in the workplace and tampers the creativity flow. It blunts the dynamo between employees.

Conclusion

Remember that the whole point here is to turn your company into a thriving community internally and externally. Accentuating the company culture allows your employees to experience what the company stands for and aligns them with the company vision.

Start with the processes mentioned above and follow through. Listen as carefully as you speak, as employers often miss hints that may be said in jest.

When your entire company begins to operate as one unit, you have a powerful force the industry must reckon with. Utilize all the arrows in your quiver (or add more) to ensure this happens.

Bring your company together on a common forum

A social intranet platform to foster internal communication and engage employees.

Employee Communication
Mary Madhavi Reddy

Mary Madhavi Reddy LinkedIn

Mary is a content marketer with 20 years of experience. Her career spans GE Money, Google, and some growth-stage startups. At Empuls, she handles product messaging and positioning.