During tough economic times, business leaders aren’t likely to focus on their internal communication efforts. They will probably look at how to reduce their company’s expenses or streamline operations to be able to maximize the bottom line.
But this shouldn’t discourage internal communication practitioners in looking for ways to improving internal communication in their respective organizations. In fact, several studies have shown how internal communication can have an effect on employee morale and staff turnover.
One study conducted by researchers at Cass Business University in the United Kingdom showed an interesting link between internal communication and employee absence. It suggested that a small enterprise with 250 employees and offers good benefits yet fails to communicates with its staff are likely to spend more than 200,000 pounds a year on staff turnover and sickness than companies with comparable employee benefits but with effective internal communication practices.
This study stresses how important internal communication is in any organization, particularly smaller firms. Small and medium-sized enterprises can take steps in improving internal communication by following these tips:
1. Get out of the office.
One great way of improving internal communication is to plan for external events, or gatherings held outside of the workplace. Sometimes, it is beneficial to burst out of the office for a lunch or even an after-work activity like bowling. These events can remove the communication barriers that exist in a corporate environment. It can also provide colleagues with a venue to learn more about each other.
2. Regular meetings.
Bosses of small enterprises should meetings a regular activity in the office. They should spearhead meetings, even if they are out of the office. Communication tools like instant messenger and video conferencing can come in handy for bosses and employees who are in a remote location.
Regular meetings aren’t just a venue to update on the progress of an activity or project but also inform the staff about new company policies, or even to congratulate a certain employee for a job well done.
3. Tap social media.
Firms that have a young staff should tap social media as a tool for engaging employees. Twitter and Facebook are two social media sites that small businesses should learn how to tap. Company news and updates and important announcements can be communicated through this medium. Not only are social media effective in reaching out to a younger breed of employees, it is also a cheap way of engaging the workforce.
4. Cut down on emails.
Email may be the preferred communication tool in the business world, but it is slowly losing its luster. One reason is that its use can be counterproductive, as employees are being flooded by numerous emails every single day. So instead of doing more productive tasks, their time is consumed by opening, reading, and replying to tons of emails.
There are several tools that can be used in lieu of emails. Traditional tools like a whiteboard can work wonders for a small company. Medium sized firms may opt for desktop alert system. Even the good ole’ company newsletter can replace emails for communicating important announcements.
5. Adopt an open door policy.
Open, honest communication in any business should start from the top. Bosses should adopt an open door policy to encourage their employees to speak up and communicate their concerns. Leaders should be approachable and transparent, and these qualities can help their employees feel that they are being valued by the organization.
These five tips in improving internal communication should help small and medium sized firms increase employee engagement, reduce staff turnover and improve their bottom line in the long run.