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Communicating Effectively, Not More Often

Posted on October 13, 2015

There has been much talk recently about the ideas of “collaboration”, “internal communications” and “engagement” within companies. These are all nice abstract concepts that are important to foster in a company. But these concepts can’t become realistic goals until they are able to be measured and quantified.

Consider the latest findings of the costs of ineffective communication to an organization:

Cost of poor internal communications to a company: $26,041 per employee

Increase in employee misconduct during times of change with poor communication: 42%

Estimated percentage of employees who are disengaged from their job: 70%

Cost in lost productivity of actively disengaged employees to the U.S.: $450-550 BILLION

Now consider the upside:

Dollar gain from converting an employee from disengaged to engaged: $13,000 per employee

Increased shareholder returns for companies that have highly effective internal communications: 47%

Improvement in operating income in companies with high employee engagement: 19.2%

Given these numbers, perhaps it is no surprise that 79% of organizations polled by the Federation of Business Communicator Associations in Europe say that internal communication is a key success factor.

But How?

The goal of internal communications is to foster transparency and collaboration across individuals and departments. This communication can get choked off as a company gets larger and, by necessity, workers and departments are silo’ed away from one another – marketing does not have as much interaction with design as they once did, as sales with engineering, as accounting with customer service. Everyone is in their own little world and has no idea what other people and teams are working on.

This “silo’ing” is a loss for a company because each individual and department’s unique viewpoint has value. Marketing may have design insight that would make the product a winner, just as design may have ideas on how to save money that would be of value to the accounting department.

So, More Meetings?

But does it have to mean “more meetings and emails”? We already have enough of those – 47% of employees believe meetings are a waste of time and fewer than half of employees open emails about internal communications. This makes a certain amount of sense. In the pre-internet age, information was in short supply. The internet age turned this on its head and information is now so plentiful it is difficult to escape!

This new age requires a change in tactics. Rather than increase the quantity of information, which is what more meetings and being cc’ed on every email does, companies would benefit more by fixating on increasing the quality of meetings and communication.

What is the most effective way of doing so? One need look no further than the rise of social media to see how people are handling the increase in information supply. Submitting ideas and comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit helps make information widely available and increases transparency in society as a whole.

At the same time, the “Like” and “Favorite” buttons are used to distinguish which posts are most worthy of time and consideration. These two methods extract meaning and relevance from the noise. Comments also allow for the building and refinement of ideas and concepts. In short, when dealing with an information glut, crowd-sourcing works.

The question is – if this works in the public sphere, why wouldn’t it work for handling communication within companies? Employee suggestion software is now available which increases transparency, idea sharing, commenting, and idea quality sorting via “Likes” and upvotes.

The process of internal communications is currently hamstrung by using dated methods of handling this information overload. Incorporating the success of social media in business communications would lead to massive productivity gains.

If your team is ready to move past unproductive meetings and pages of useless emails, into a better communication process, then it’s time to call Vocoli.


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