Written by Daniel Messinger, Consulting Associate
Have you ever heard someone complain about poor communication from their supervisor or senior leadership team? Have you ever been frustrated when someone in another department won’t get back to you? Employees care about having healthy, positive communication inside their organizations. Companies should, too, as healthy communication provides a variety of benefits to organizations.
But why is healthy communication so important? Before you can understand the benefits of effective communication, you have to understand that there are different types of communication. Each of them is important and provides unique benefits to organizations.
Types of communication in the workplace
- Organizational communication
One type of communication comes from executives and senior leaders and is directed at lower-level employees. This includes updates to employees on business operations, new policies, and company successes. Employees want to feel supported and connected to their organizations, but rarely feel this way if executives don’t communicate with them. As a result, companies could suffer if organizational communication is lacking.
- Upward communication
Upward communication comes from lower-level employees and is directed towards senior leaders or executives. Often this comes in the form of feedback on company policy or procedures. If upward communication is absent, it is often because employees don’t feel safe. When employees are worried about repercussions – like losing their job or being passed on for promotions – they aren’t eager to provide honest feedback.
- Team and interdepartmental communication
Teams achieve goals through collaboration. This requires a great deal of organization and communication. Team members need to be on the same page if they want to accomplish tasks in an efficient manner. If team communication breaks down, tasks and projects can suffer. Communication between departments is very similar to team communication with similar benefits. However, it is worth noting that employees in different departments are generally less familiar with one another and the work of other departments. Additionally, other departments have different priorities, needs, and wants. This can make effective interdepartmental communication more difficult and time consuming than team communication.
- Supervisory communication
Supervisors play an active role in the lives of their employees. Employees expect to receive guidance, direction, and praise from their supervisors. From weekly meetings to performance appraisals, employees should receive clear feedback and expectations on their working relationship with the company.
Benefits of effective communication in the workplace
There are really no disadvantages when it comes to communicating effectively in the workplace. With that in mind, here are some of the noted benefits as it pertains to each type of communication discussed above.
1. Organizational communication
- Trust: When companies are open and transparent about business operations, employees can trust that their organizations will be honest with them.
- Employee engagement: When employees understand the challenges facing the business, they are energized to come together and overcome those challenges. Company success stories can also boost engagement by enhancing positive feelings toward the organization.
- Commitment: Open dialogue from senior leaders increases feelings of commitment through familial bonds and camaraderie.
- Organizational support: Employees also feel more supported when senior leadership is engaging in active, healthy communication.
- Turnover: Each of the benefits listed above has a significant effect on turnover. When communication from senior leadership is strong, you can expect lower rates of turnover, too.
2. Upward communication
- Awareness: Lower-level employees have perspectives, insights, and priorities that are different from executives. When employees are given opportunities to safely share feedback, organizations have better awareness of the challenges facing the company. This allows companies to deal with problems more effectively and anticipate issues that may arise in the future.
- Justice: Everyone wants their voice to be heard and understood. When organizations give everyone an honest chance to speak their mind, it signals that they want to make decisions in a fair and just manner.
- Trust: When communication channels are open, employees can trust that their company wants to do things the right way – even if certain decisions don’t fall the employee’s way.
- Organizational support: Employees feel supported when their comments and concerns are genuinely received and considered.
- Turnover: Employees are less likely to leave organizations when they feel that their companies are supportive and listen to their concerns.
3. Team and interdepartmental communication
- Efficiency: Team communication and interdepartmental communication improve efficiency in a number of ways:
- Employees are more likely to perform tasks correctly when the correct steps are clearly communicated to them.
- Projects are less likely to be overlooked or remain unfinished when responsibilities are clearly understood.
- Time can be used more efficiently when employees communicate. Tasks can be done on the first attempt instead of needing multiple attempts to get it right. Also, time won’t be spent on unnecessary projects or on tasks that have already been completed.
- Project timelines are less likely to be disrupted. Sometimes employees underestimate the time or effort others need to complete certain tasks. But this can be prevented through proactive communication.
- Tasks that are of high importance can be prioritized when other employees or departments clearly understand one another.
- Knowledge sharing: Sometimes there are only one or two employees who know how to perform a task. Better communication can help teams recognize those blind spots and take steps to avoid delays if an employee is suddenly unavailable.
- Job satisfaction: When processes are operating seamlessly, employees are more likely to be proud of their jobs and less prone to frustration.
- Team commitment: Friendly conversations with other employees help them bond with each other. Conversations about work also remind employees that they are working as a team to achieve their goals. These conversations improve commitment to your team.
- Turnover: Because of these benefits, healthy team and interdepartmental communication also reduces turnover rates.
4. Supervisory communication
- Development: Supervisors have a unique opportunity to guide employees along their career paths. When supervisors communicate well, they can improve employee skills and help them achieve their goals as an employee.
- Job performance: Supervisors also play a key role in their employees’ job performance. Providing employees with feedback on what they are doing well and where they can improve can be a huge advantage for employees. Supervisors also set the job expectations for their employees. When communicated well, these expectations motivate employees to be the best version of themselves.
- Job satisfaction: People are happiest in their jobs when they know what is expected of them, meaning that supervisory communication can drastically improve job satisfaction.
- Supervisor commitment: Open channels of communication improve the bonds that employees have with their supervisors which can also motivate employees to put in their best effort at work.
- Turnover: As with the other types of communication, the benefits of supervisory communication can also reduce turnover rates.