The 4 Biggest Internal Communication Problems – And How to Fix Them

Just like you can’t have a healthy relationship with a partner or spouse without communication, it’s impossible for a business to run smoothly without the proper communication strategies in place. Unfortunately, many organizations are severely lacking in this area. And it typically comes down to a few core problems.

Overcoming the 4 Big Internal Communication Problems in Business

Proper communication serves as the foundation for business success. It plays a key role in employee engagement, customer satisfaction, employee turnover, corporate culture, and the overall image of the company. Yet despite its significance, far too few companies invest the time and money needed to excel in this area.

Research from an Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. study finds that, while as many as 25 percent of employees are considered more productive when the organization has a strong emphasis on internal communication, just 60 percent of organizations have a formal strategy in place. In other words, there’s a disconnect.

Want to keep your employees engaged and happy, while simultaneously positioning your business for future growth? You need a more purposeful and disciplined approach. And here are a few specific recommendations to get you going:

Disconnect Between HR and Employees

When running an HR department, there tends to be some friction between the HR department and employees. (Not always, but it’s a general rule of thumb.) There’s nothing malicious or sinister at play – it’s just that employees see HR as overbearing and HR gets frustrated by the lack of responsiveness. This creates an endless cycle where things move at a glacial pace.

Whether it’s getting employees to respond to emails, submit the proper paperwork, take advantage of open enrollment, or fill out company surveys, inefficiencies in the HR department can be glaring.

One solution is to change the way you manage communication between HR and employees. Instead of handling everything by email – which is known for low engagement and poor response rates – try using an SMS solution. With text messaging, you can send out satisfaction surveys, links to benefits plans, and personalized requests. And because SMS is seen as more personal, your HR department is much more likely to get the responses they need.

Reluctance to Share Ideas

While the disconnect between HR and employees is typically pretty visible, there are other issues that lurk beneath the surface. And in many respects, this makes them even more dangerous.

One of the big issues we see in organizations is an overarching reluctance of team members to share ideas and offer constructive criticism to others. Whether it’s fear of insulting coworkers, anxiety over the possibility of being wrong, or worry that someone else will steal an idea, it’s costly. A study by VitalSmarts finds that a lack of information sharing and communication among coworkers leads to a loss of $7,500 per missed conversation about employee productivity.

The best way to overcome this issue is to create structures where idea sharing is expected. You could create small teams where employees are expected to present three new ideas each week (or something to this effect). This is how you establish a culture where sharing ideas is normal.

Lack of Centralized Communication

As businesses grow, so do their technology stacks, list of communication tools, and organizational structure. You go from having a team of two or three people who all work in the same office to dozens or hundreds of remote team members sharing information and communicating across a handful of different channels (like email, social media, phone, SMS, etc.).

If you want to keep your team on the same page, improve efficiency, and streamline key processes, your best bet is to centralize communication. Whether it’s a project management solution, social intranet, or some sort of chat app like Slack, you need a “home base.”

Too Many Meetings

You might think you’re doing your organization a favor by calling meetings, but you could be exacerbating the underlying issue. Excessive meetings do nothing but bog down schedules and create more noise. If you’re going to host meetings, keep them short, focused, and infrequent. If something can be communicated outside of a meeting, it should be.

Ready to Take Action?

It’s not enough to acknowledge your need for strengthening internal communication. If you want to position your business well for both short-term wins and long-term growth, you must revisit your approach and make calculated changes. Where will you start?

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