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September 16, 2019

4 Lessons on Workplace Communication

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What’s the true cost that businesses pay when their HR and recruiting teams fail to communicate? On top of disengaged employees and lower productivity, HR teams who do not communicate effectively can make your company appear unprofessional and even scare off potential candidates.

One of the most essential functions for human resources departments is to effectively interact with people, both inside and outside of their business. Yet few, if any, organizations consider both the time and strategy needed to create a communication policy across the company.

To help you avoid learning the hard way what the benefits of strong communication skills are, we’ve compiled a list of four lessons that you and your fellow HR professionals can integrate into professional practices.

Lesson #1: Information silos create communication barriers

Defined as a collective mindset where certain departments are unwilling to share information with others, informational silos occur in businesses where cross-departmental communication is not emphasized or encouraged.

Even if you haven’t heard the term “silo” before, you’ve likely experienced information silos at some point in your professional career. Silos often point to larger issues in a business, such as its organizational structure or the function of leadership positions, that make effective communication difficult or even impossible. Human resources, accounting, recruiting and other auxiliary departments are particularly susceptible to information silos, as they aren’t directly responsible for delivering a product or service to the customer.

Ultimately, a failure to share information results in a failure to communicate, making businesses with silo symptoms more stagnant and less innovative than their competitors. Although it may not affect your day-to-day work, your HR teams should be communicating with the other areas of your company in order to have a comprehensive understanding of the business.

Eliminate silos by minimizing departmental jargon and encouraging events and meetings that mix members of your organization at a company-wide level.

Lesson #2: Technology can help

Technology has improved business operations in all aspects, but perhaps nothing has been more transformed by technology than workplace communication. In an era of work where employees are able to work remotely, outside of the office or around the world during travel, technology is not only a helpful resource but a necessary one.

For nearly all industries, using this technology is not just an advantage but an essential resource to remain a legitimate competitor in their space. Below, we’ve shared a few business applications that can remedy your various communication challenges:

  • For HR teams that struggle to keep information up-to-date: consider transitioning to cloud-supported platforms like Altamira’s Human Resource Management (HRM) solution. Hosting data on the cloud allows this tool to instantly update information for the entire company, which helps with keeping your business’s intel and correspondence accessible and accurate.
  • For HR teams that find it difficult to organize, prioritize and deliver projects in a timely manner: turn to services like Basecamp’s Project Management (PM) software. Project management tools help individuals become better communicators by helping teams widely disperse their goals, set a timeline for production and (most importantly) keep everyone in the loop on the current status of each task.
  • For HR teams that juggle between too many communication tools and services: simplify your communication strategy by switching to a tech suite like 8×8’s Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platform. Unified Communications tools create centralized channels for services like chat, calling and video conferencing, helping individuals align their communication tactics at a company-wide level.

  • Lesson #3: People value transparency

    Approximately half of all workers in today’s workforce believe that their employer is open and upfront in their dialogue with them, demonstrating a far-reaching mistrust between employees and those they work for. These types of numbers should enact immediate reflection and change from business leaders. If your organization’s communication strategy is built on a foundation of mistrust, how can you expect any lasting relationship between the people who make your business what it is?

    At the root of this problem is a lack of transparency from leadership or management. While not always ill-intentioned, eluding meaningful, frank conversations makes employees feel disrespected, belittled or ignored completely.

    When it comes to the workplace, the path to transparency starts with accountability, for yourself and for others. This means removing ambiguity from expectations and responsibilities and sticking to these guidelines when they are questioned. Ultimately, businesses that value accountability are successful in looking toward future internal developments, and how each team member will become a key player in success down the line.

    Lesson #4: There’s more than one “right” way to communicate

    Between emails, chat channels, calls, video conferences and in-person conversations, there are more ways than ever before for HR specialists to communicate with each other. Depending on personal preferences, most people will gravitate toward certain platforms and resist others.

    That’s why it’s important to remember that no communication method is inherently better than the rest. Often, the situation will dictate the option best suited for the job. As an example, email is best used when dealing with important correspondence, while a chat platform might be a better solution when a situation requires more than two people in dialogue. Face-to-face conversations are perhaps the most valuable communication method (and is especially helpful while gauging candidates during interviews), but it isn’t always an option—a rapidly growing remote workforce means that your organization won’t always be able to interview, onboard or work with employees on-site. In these types of situations, a video call is an essential substitute for in-person interactions.

    Understanding each method for communication and its best use cases will not only make you a more well-rounded employee, but it will also make you an invaluable team member on whatever HR projects you decide to tackle for your company.

    Written by Camryn Harrington

    a business communications specialist with a focus on contributing content in professional spheres on the intersection between business and people management.

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