Common Workplace Communication Problems & How to Fix Them: A Full Guide

HR Management
Isabel de Jong-Fatal May 31, 2022 14 min read

Good workplace communication is key to running a successful business, but it’s easier said than done. Let’s take a look at some of the main internal communication stumbling blocks, followed by 10 lifesaving tips to triumph over them while enjoying increased employee engagement, motivation, and productivity.

Quick Guide

    Introduction

    It’s no secret that productivity, working relationships, and morale will take a hard hit if you have communication problems in the workplace. And if the communication problems aren’t addressed, profit loss, higher turnover, mistakes, and a negative public image are commonplace. 

    It’s vital that you recognize and address communication problems in the workplace before the situation gets out of control. And when you tackle workplace communication challenges immediately, you avoid misunderstandings or something slipping through the cracks. 

    That’s all easier said than done without the right guidance. Lucky for you, we have listed 10 lifesaving and yet easy-to-implement tips that will help you achieve excellent workplace communication and enjoy its sweet side effects. 

    Why is Effective Communication in the Workplace so Critical? 

    Not to exaggerate – good communication is key to the success of your business.

    In a nutshell, it enables your teams to be more productive, cooperate better, and work more effectively. As a matter of fact, employees are 20 to 25% more productive in businesses that have an effective internal communication strategy in place. This means that you can keep the $62.4 million lost by companies every year due to workplace communication issues in your pocket.

    On top of that, being able to communicate up and down an organization’s communication chain has proven to give employees a boost in morale and a sense of commitment to the company. This, in turn, improves job satisfaction and reduces employee turnover.

    If you’re interested in creating a communication strategy from scratch, then download our free eBook on how to build an effective internal communication strategy.

    However, success doesn’t happen overnight, so make communication a daily task, and you will reap numerous benefits in the long run. 

    Poor communication costs businesses breakdown by Connecteam

    10 Common Internal Communication Problems 

    Before getting to the good part, let’s first take a look at where workplace communication typically goes south.

    Communication Barriers

    While communication barriers come in many shapes and sizes, they all form obstacles to sharing or receiving information. They can, for instance, include:  

    • Team members working remotely.
    • Employees working different schedules. 
    • Team members using different communication platforms.
    • Language difficulties due to language differences as well as workplace jargon.

    Communication barriers are particularly common amongst remote working teams, which have become a new norm since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a staggering 71% of remote employees are not actively engaged in their organization, and 85% said that the communication they receive just isn’t enough. 

    When you have a lack of internal communication with your remote team, they can easily feel isolated, undervalued, and unmotivated.

    No Clear Line of Communication

    Without a clear communication chain or understanding of who is in charge of what and who answers to whom, your employees are uncertain who they should turn to with any questions or concerns. This creates a general lack of accountability and confusion. 

    Not having a clear line of communication also makes effectively communicate top-level information to your workers a challenge.  

    False Assumptions and One-Way Communication

    Workplace misunderstandings often come from managers or team members assuming that their coworkers are approaching a task or project in the same way that they would, rather than clearly defining how each step should be done and by which team member. 

    This goes hand in hand with the assumption that your employees fully understand all of the information they are given and don’t have any questions, comments, or feedback.

    All of this can lead to confusion and tasks being completed insufficiently. 

    Using the Wrong Communication Tools

    Nowadays, modern employee communication management tools have changed the name of the game, making maintaining good communication in the workplace simple and easy.

    Using the wrong tools can cause miscommunication, information loss, delayed response times, and distractions. For instance, that one email containing important information can get lost at the bottom of your inbox, or frequent work calls can disrupt productivity and cost employees precious time to get back into what they were doing.

    Particularly companies with remote employees experience difficulties without a good employee communication management tool.

    Employee using Connecteam's employee communication app to communicate with her team

    Easily Keep Your Workplace Communication Game on Point

    Keep your team engaged and connected, no matter where they are working from, using Connecteam’s employee communication app.

    Giving Infrequent or No Feedback

    Without giving your employees feedback on how they are performing on a regular basis – especially if they need to wait an entire year for their annual performance review – your staff will feel left in the dark. 

    The same goes for hearing them out and asking for their feedback on their experiences in the workplace and suggestions for improvement. By not giving them this opportunity, your team will feel like their voices aren’t valued or heard.

    This leads to a lack of employee development, repeated mistakes, growing frustration, poor work morale, and eventually increased employee turnover.

    Missing Positive Feedback

    Giving your employees feedback on their performance and pointing out areas that need improvement is key to helping them grow and become better at their job. However, it will have the opposite effect without a healthy dose of praise and positive feedback. The result: a demoralized and unmotivated workforce

    Asking for Input Without Following Up

    Conducting monthly pulse surveys and asking your employees for regular feedback on their well-being or job satisfaction is great. But if you don’t follow back or let them know how their answers impacted decisions within the company, they are left wondering why you consulted them in the first place. If you repeatedly ask for employee input but never get back to them about it, don’t be surprised when they lose motivation. 

    Information Overload

    Companies can overshare information with their entire workforce that is only relevant to specific departments, job locations, or seniority levels. This can overwhelm your employees and makes it harder for them to catch or filter out information that is relevant to their day-to-day.

    Not Measuring Communication

    It’s not enough to just communicate with your employees, you need to measure your communication efforts. All too often companies aren’t measuring or collecting data on these efforts to see if they are succeeding or failing in the communication department. Without this insight, companies are often not able to improve their internal communication or make an effective decision regarding it. 

    Budget Issues

    Developing your own internal communications can be very expensive, resources can be lacking, and it might just not seem worth it. And maybe you looked into workplace communication tools as a solution, but nothing was in your price range.

    Spoiler alert – it doesn’t have to be that way. 

    10 Ways to Overcome Communication Problems in The Workplace

    And now for the good part! There are quite a few ways in which you can improve workplace communication that doesn’t cost a lot of money or time to implement. Let’s dive into it.

    Use the Right Communication Tools

    The first step to overcoming communication problems in the workplace is to make sure that you are using the right tools for healthy communication. 

    While popular communication tools such as WhatsApp can come in handy, they are not meant for professional use, have limited capabilities, and cause distractions by mixing personal and professional communication. 

    Instead, we recommend using modern employee communication management software, which is specifically designed to help you streamline, simplify, and optimize internal communication. 

    While most internal communication software includes the basic feature of one-on-one and team chats, a good workplace communication tool should also allow you to:

    • Gather real-time feedback using polls and surveys 
    • Schedule meetings
    • Share company updates to the newsfeed
    • Set up an employee directory 
    • Include tools to measure your internal communication

    An example of an excellent and affordable employee communication management tool is Connecteam. It’s easy-to-use platform lets you engage and communicate with your employees no matter where they are working from. It includes all the features mentioned above as well as the ability to send your employees some well-deserved recognition and rewards

    Having Communication Problems?

    Take your company’s internal communication to the next level with Connecteam today!

    Create a Clear Line of Communication 

    Having a clear line of communication structure within your company and for your projects, your workers will know who to turn to for all the information and guidance they need to perform their tasks well. 

    Defining who is in charge of what and who answers to whom creates accountability and eliminates confusion. It also makes it easier to effectively communicate top-level information to your entire workforce.  

    Communication Is A Two-Way Street

    The manager should not be the one to do all the talking. 

    It is vital to build and foster two-way relationships with your team. Engage in an active dialogue and do it on a regular basis. After all, it is the job of the manager to do so.

    It’s vital that you remember that most employees will leave their company if they have a poor relationship with their manager. In fact, 12% of employees who quit their jobs did so for higher salaries, whereas 75% left their company because of a bad relationship with their direct manager.

    Create a Safe Space for Open Communication

    For workplace communication to actually be effective and honest, you will first need to make sure that you have a positive work environment in which each employee feels comfortable enough to express their ideas, ask questions, make suggestions, and raise concerns. In other words, they should be able to openly communicate without fearing negative consequences to their self-image, status, or career. 

    One of the best ways to do this is to lead by example. You can, for instance, do this by asking if something is unclear and admitting when you don’t have the answer to someone’s question. Also, manage the flow of a conversation when someone is constantly interrupting to create a space for others to communicate as well.

    Research also shows that by having an open-door policy, you are able to gain “accessibility as a manager, to encourage an open flow of communication, to gain fast access to important or just happening situations or information and to maintain closer working relationships with employees.”

    Hold Regular Meetings

    Don’t wait for a year to go by to sit down with your employees and go over their performance and hear how they are getting on with their job, coworkers, and managers. Instead, make it a regular practice.

    If you have remote working teams or employees that don’t share the same workspace, you also don’t necessarily have to wait for the opportunity to sit down together. Instead, you can schedule regular meetings via videoconference calls. Your team will appreciate having this flexibility.

    Schedule Weekly Team Meetings

    Weekly team meetings are the perfect way to make sure that your workers stay on the same page regarding planned and ongoing projects, expectations, and courses of action. It also helps everyone see the larger picture and clearly understand their roles and responsibilities. 

    Weekly team meetings are the perfect time for each employee to share what they are currently working on, their goals for the week, and any challenges they encountered. It’s also the perfect platform for managers to announce any updates, new projects, progress on team goals, and answer any questions.

    This results in more transparency, better communication, and increased opportunities for collaboration.

    Hold Regular One-on-Ones

    Having regular one-on-one meetings with your employees allows you to communicate in a more private setting in which some employees feel more comfortable expressing themselves. Weekly or monthly one-on-ones are a good opportunity to touch base with each employee individually and talk about priorities, set goals, and find out if your team has enough time, resources, and information to perform well. 

    Note that it is important to create a safe space for each employee to raise any concerns and share ideas that could benefit the team.

    Regular one-on-ones make employees feel heard and reduce voluntary turnover by about 30%.

    Follow up with Effective Notes and Clear Job Expectations

    Take notes of the main points and any deadlines and responsibilities discussed during your meetings and share these with your team members for them to refer back to. You can also share these with anyone who wasn’t able to attend the meeting.

    This way, you can make sure that everyone is on the same page, understands what is expected of them, and has the information they need to perform and prioritize their tasks.

    Give an Explanation When Asking Your Team to Do Something

    Giving an explanation or information on a task’s importance or how it fits into the bigger picture will make their work more meaningful and give them the feeling that they are valued and contributing to a larger cause. 

    Even if the task is less glamorous or meaningful, admitting that it just needs to be done will show you’re committed to meaningful and transparent communication. This will help build trust and makes your employees more likely to engage and perform their best.

    And remember the common mistake of assuming that your employees understand a task and how to perform it? Take the time to touch base with your employee and ensure that you are on the same page regarding how it should be done. This will cost you relatively little compared to the amount of time, money, and effort required to fix a poorly performed task. 

    Ask for Feedback

    It’s time to hear back from your employees!

    Regularly collecting their feedback will help you understand in which areas your business is running smoothly and which ones could use some extra love. With these insights, you can make better decisions for your company and team. This also gives you the opportunity to learn about issues before they escalate.

    The same counts for gathering feedback on your company’s internal communication. Employee feedback on the topic will give management a better understanding of what can be done to improve internal communication and how to solve communication issues. 

    At the same time, it’s crucial to show your employees that you value their input and that their voices are heard. And you might just find that creative solution you were looking for!

    There are different ways to collect feedback, such as one-on-one or group meetings, employee surveys, or by setting up a suggestion box or poll.

    Employee using Connecteam's employee communication app to give feedback

    Give Some Well-Deserved Recognition

    Happy employees equal a healthy company. 

    The simple act of showing employees that they are valued and that their hard work is recognized and appreciated performs miracles. It boosts their motivation, job satisfaction, and engagement while reducing employee turnover. It also helps build trust between employees and managers – a crucial ingredient for healthy workplace communication. 

    You can show recognition, for example, by celebrating birthdays, giving a shout-out for a job well done, and electing exceptional employees as ‘employee of the month.’ 

    And just like recognition can be contagious, so can the positivity that comes with it. 

    By driving positivity and recognition, you bring in better productivity from your team and lower stress levels. Additionally, the happier your employees are, the more involved they are in their job role and helping the company to succeed.

    Set Communication Standards

    Another solution to communication problems is to make sure your company policies cover internal communication practices and standards. Make sure employees have 24/7 access to the company policies so that they may refer to them at any time. 

    By having a clear company communication policy in place, you reduce the likelihood of inappropriate or distracting communication problems in the workplace. PR expert Kim Harrison notes, “it’s important to set policies that facilitate meaningful and necessary communication needed for employee productivity and their confidence in the future. Having a good communication policy in place reduces conflicts and misunderstandings, and eases uncertainties.” 

    By setting clear and concise company policies regarding internal communication, employees can easily understand what type of communication is appropriate and acceptable and what is not. You may also want to include what sort of disciplinary action will be taken if employees disregard these policies. 

    The Final Word on How to Solve Communication Issues in the Workplace

    We’ve discussed several ways in which you can solve internal communication challenges. The most important is to use the right communication tools and technology that will assist in overcoming these challenges and help you go above and beyond. On top of that, the secret formula is to stay consistent in your communication efforts, hold regular meetings, ensure that communication flows in both directions, and make your employees feel valued. 

    With these tools and tips, you will easily be able to improve your company’s internal communication, increase employee engagement, boost employee morale, and drive employee productivity. 

    Introducing: The Modern Employee Communication App

    Reinvent communication & engagement in your organization with Connecteam’s communication tools.

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