How to overcome workplace communication problems
It’s time to leverage your communication tools properly.
Why You Should Care
Employees are being overwhelmed by digital communications.
Learn how to cut through the news.
Communication completely changed in the pandemic. Speaking face-to-face wasn’t an option for many, so people turned to platforms like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams for workplace discussions.
As a result, the value of the likes of Zoom and Slack have seen a sharp increase. So much so, that Zoom had to double the size of its team.
However, these platforms aren’t perfect, and internal communications start-up Canopact spoke to 40 companies across the world over the past three months to better understand the key challenges for employee communications.
The discussions took place with employees who were internal communication managers, within HR teams, and some employees in corporate social responsibility.
When it came to collaboration tools, 62% of these companies were Slack users and 35% were Microsoft Teams users.
To further support the discussions with organizations, Canopact has also held polls on issues that employees find themselves facing when communicating digitally.
59% of 133 respondents said the most frustrating aspect of Slack or Teams was the overload of content and the general busyness of these platforms. The second most frustrating aspect was the absence of engagement analytics (24% of respondents).
In a separate poll with 70 responses, 60% said that they aren’t tracking employee engagement analytics on Slack or Teams. The data points which companies primarily track on these platforms are click-throughs & reactions (16% of respondents) and surveys & polls (also 16%).
On the back of this data and conversations with organizations, three key challenges have been identified.
Employees are suffering from content fatigue on internal comms
We’ve all heard of Zoom fatigue, and the toll that back-to-back digital calls can have on employees. However, 30% of companies are also concerned about the amount of communications being sent to and among employees and the overwhelming impact they can have.
It’s not just the volume of contact that is causing issues, but a tendency for them to be ad hoc or “lumpy.”
It’s hard to understand engagement
46% of those interviewed by Canopact, particularly in medium and large companies with a growing headcount, found that they struggled to collect data on which internal communications content employees are engaging most with. Quantitative data like average reading time is particularly difficult to obtain.
Of course, one solution to this is surveys and forms which ask specific questions about the communication application software. However, before doing this organizations should begin benchmarking what good communication looks like so they can develop a response to the feedback they receive.
Applying feedback can also increase morale as it lets employees know that the organization is listening to their concerns.
Coordinating with stakeholders on internal comms tasks can be very time-consuming
Planning and delivering internal communications, especially when working remotely, can be difficult, and it was flagged by 41% of respondents.
Interestingly, even when project management tools like Asana or Smartsheet were used, some companies still had difficulty working cohesively.
Solutions for digital communications
Fortunately, these problems are not immovable, and a number of strategies and investments can reduce the pain that they cause.
When it comes to communication it is important to use synchronous and asynchronous tools. For example, a quick message on a project that is taking place in real-time may be suited to Slack or Teams.
However, a message that outlines a future project and has multiple stakeholders who operate on different time zones. In this case, an email can be effective.
Additionally, while working on a project, progress can be shared through applications like Google Docs, and Quip that enable real-time collaboration on documents. Of course, overseeing these projects can still be handled by Asana and Trello.
When it comes to managing projects and getting work delivered, managers need to ensure that they are communicating clearly and that employees are adopting tools designed to give them deadlines.
Projects aside, employees sometimes have more fundamental questions. Intranets with frequently asked questions, advice, and company information are vital here. Although it may seem old school, a hub of information can stop scattered messaging and feelings of confusion.
On top of all this, employee engagement can be monitored through pulse surveys. With this information, organizations can make changes that are tailored to their needs.
Finally, in a geographically dispersed world, hosting an All Hands can bring teams together, give understanding into their work, and enable teams to quickly state what they’re working on and the collaboration they would benefit from.
It’s time to make the best out of your communication platforms, you just need to formulate a strategy and speak up.
Dan combines his first-hand experience alongside the latest news and opinions in the HR Technology space.