More and more companies introduce remote work policies. With a distributed workforce, organizational communication becomes more critical than ever.
Uninhibited communication via various digital channels is a #1 priority when it comes to empowering employees in digital workplaces. Moreover, as hybrid work is slowly becoming a standard, communication needs to change the in-and-out-of-office conditions.
Read on to find out the best strategies for improving organizational communication and why it’s essential that you do.
What is organizational communication?
Organizational communication is a term that refers to all communication that goes on within an organization. It is synonymous with business communication and workplace communication.
However, there’s more to it. Organizational communication is also a field of academic studies. Many universities offer Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in this field. Professionals who acquire an academic degree in this area are equipped to take on roles such as corporate communications consultants, PR directors, marketing managers, media researchers, and more.
Organizational communication is also referred to as business or workplace communication, but it is also an academic field.
The fact that organizational communication still fascinates academics today is no coincidence. After all, it is a very complex system with many moving pieces, and it’s hard to make it perfect, especially in large organizations. To decide on the best strategy for improving organizational communication in your company, experts start with basics: understanding which of the organizational communication types is prevalent in the company.
Organizational communication types
There are several ways in which we can classify organizational communication.
Formal vs. informal communication
Formal organizational communication includes informing employees on goals for the upcoming period or results from the past quarter. Another example is communicating new safety measures or work policy updates.
On the other hand, informal communication refers to employees chatting and not necessarily about work-related topics. If you think this type of organizational communication is redundant, you’d be wrong! For example, research shows that social interaction between employees makes up to 50% of the positive changes in communication patterns within the workplace.
❓ What happens when you work remote or hybrid, and there are no chances of meeting somebody by the water cooler?
In Rocket.Chat, we are talking about work and non-work-related matters, but in separate channels. For example, our bot Koko asks us interesting questions, and it’s a real conversation starter. Moreover, we have a channel where we share pictures of our pets!
As big advocates of cross-functional collaboration, we believe you need both formal and informal communication to collaborate successfully.
Oral vs. written communication
This one is easy! As you know, oral communication refers to spoken words, while written refers to communicating in writing. For unobstructed information flow and successful team collaboration, you need both.
For example, you would get tired if you had to jump on a call with your colleagues for something that a short instant message could resolve. Moreover, never seeing your coworkers’ faces could feel like a lonesome work experience!
❓ Another way we could classify organizational communication is into asynchronous and synchronous communication.
Downward vs. upward communication
In organizations that successfully communicate, communication flows freely in all directions. The three main directions of communication are downward, lateral, and upward communication.
Managers explaining a work project to their subordinates is an example of downward communication. When employees voice their opinions to leadership, it’s upward communication.
The most talked-about type of organizational communication is lateral or team communication, which relates to employees of similar rank talking, texting, emailing, and other.
Internal vs. external communication
Internal communication marks all communication that goes on within the company. On the other hand, external communication includes communication with vendors, partners, and customers.
The two are inherently different, but both are incredibly important.
Since most employees would like to centralize internal and external communication within a single app, communication software like Rocket.Chat introduced an omnichannel feature. With it, you can communicate with colleagues and external parties via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, email, and more.
What are the best strategies for improving organizational communication?
Enhancing organizational communication is not an easy task. Companies sometimes hire external consultants to help them improve or hire internal communications specialists to create and implement communication strategies.
Here are six ways you can improve communication in your organization.
1. Provide the right tools
First and foremost, you must provide your employees with tools to communicate. Today, people want to communicate at work like they do in their private life. That includes instant messaging platforms, which make it easy to reach people within the organization.
Our research on instant messaging found that 82% of employees want their communication to be streamlined through a single app. Moreover, 45% of respondents believe that it’s difficult to get fast responses via email.
In other words, one of the best strategies for improving organizational communication is simplifying it!
❓ Learn how team collaboration software can help you upgrade your organizational communication.
2. Be open and transparent
Honesty is the best policy, right? This is one of the most important rules of successful organizational communication. In other words, you need to share bad news too.
Employees today are not oblivious to what goes on in a company. Unfortunately, many leaders still believe that they don’t need to share strategic information with employees. It’s quite the opposite - transparency increases trust towards company leadership.
3. Listen to what employees have to say
Upward communication is just as important as downward organizational communication. Employers need to know how their employees feel and think. That’s why it’s crucial to empower employees to speak up and regularly conduct employee surveys.
As a matter of fact, try asking your employees about what they’re bothered with regarding internal communication. Do they feel like they’re missing out on company news? Do they get responses from colleagues on time? This will help you identify pain points in your current workplace communication.
Since employees often want their voices heard, finding a way to implement employees' suggestions is an important strategy for improving organizational communications.
4. Facilitate frequent feedback
Feedback is essential to employees. Research shows that 65% of employees want more feedback to make sense of their work.
However, feedback is not only important as a tool for employees’ growth and development. It allows managers and their team members to state their opinions on each other’s work clearly. That is a great way to enforce transparency, constructive criticism, and respect, which are all important aspects of communication.
5. Diversify communication
Has anybody heard of the phrase “this meeting could have been an email”? 😉
As mentioned earlier, organizational communication can be endangered if the communication channels are limited. Leaders need to enable employees to use chat, email, and online meetings. Furthermore, everybody needs to know what situation requires which channel.
6. Organize team-building activities
The more you hang out with someone, the easier it is to understand them. It’s no different in the workplace. Employees that spend time together outside of work communicate better.
It’s a good idea to organize social gatherings and team-building activities. It will not only help you improve organizational communication and collaboration but also lift employees’ morale.
Why is organizational communication important?
Effective organizational communication is essential for many reasons. For one, it enables employees to collaborate successfully, which leads to improvements in business performance.
Productivity and reaching goals
Poor organizational communication can cause severe productivity drops and a lack of alignment on company goals. Here are research findings to persuade you:
- A whopping 97% of executives and employees think that a lack of alignment around a project impacts its outcome.
- Ineffective communication causes workplace failures, according to 86% of employees.
- Poor communication is the #1 reason behind breached deadlines, according to 28% of employees.
- Productivity increases by 25% when teams are well-connected.
Need we say more?
It’s in every organizations’ interest to retain employees as long as it can. Not only is high turnover costly, but it also deteriorates company culture.
On the other hand, proper organizational communication can positively affect employees’ feelings towards their employer. For example, 54% of employees say they didn’t quit their previous job sooner because of a strong sense of community. We don’t have to explain how important organizational communication is to inspire such feelings, right?
Moreover, effective communication increases chances for employee retention by 4.5 times.
High cost of poor communication
Poor organizational communication is costly because employees are less productive and engaged, misaligned, and uninformed.
However, David Grossman’s research on 400 companies with over 100,000 employees shows the actual monetary costs of poor communication. He found that organizations lose on average $62 million per year due to poor communication.
Another cost to organizations related to communication is penalties that occur due to data breaches, often unintentional. That's why it's important to take all the necessary steps to make organizational communication highly secure.
Here are some resources on that you'll love:
- Microsoft 365 banned from German schools due to GDPR non-compliance
- How to communicate effectively when working remotely
- 8 strategies to ensure communication security
Navigate organizational communication with workplace chat
Organizational communication is complex. That’s why you need the right technology at your side! At Rocket.Chat, we are proud to be one of the most secure messaging apps for businesses. Moreover, we are happy to facilitate easy, quick, and diverse communication between team members.