Effective inter-staff communication is challenging even when all employees are in the same place. These challenges are exacerbated further in industries such as construction and manufacturing where an HR department and management are in one location, and employees in another. Communications issues take a high business toll — Harvard Business Review highlights that 9 out of 10 employees say poor communication has the ability to drag a leader down. Financially, inadequate communication translates into an average loss of $62.4 million annually for large companies.
There’s no question: effective communication is key to business success. Here are some of the most common communications issues that crop up in the workforce, and ways your HR team can address them.
Lack of Employee Recognition
The HBR article referenced states that 63% of employees say not recognizing employee achievements is the largest communication issue faced by business leaders. While you likely don’t have time to praise every employee for a job well done, employee recognition can be institutionalized by your HR and management teams.
According to a survey done by the Society for Human Resource Management, about 80% of organizations have employee recognition programs. These programs commonly recognize employees’ years of commitment to a company, major one-off achievements, or instances where they have provided an exceptional act of service for either a customer or colleague. Your HR department can take leadership in starting or maintaining an employee recognition program, with department heads and employees encouraged to submit nominations for someone who deserves honoring. A performance management system can also track employee progress to make sure you’re proactive about recognition.
Miscommunication Around Job Priorities
This is a communications issue that can affect all staff, old and new. One way to counter workplace miscommunication is to ensure employees are clear on their roles and responsibilities from the very start.
One way your HR team can do this is through a comprehensive onboarding process. Onboarding — unlike a one-day orientation — is an ongoing process that will help an employee go from new hire to seasoned staff member. From simplifying paperwork surrounding matters such as payment, benefits, and job expectations, to familiarizing a team member with your company’s culture, employee onboarding using a software solution can help to ward off the misunderstanding of job priorities.
Communication Gaps Between Teams
Another challenge your company may face is communication between different departments. This can happen when one staff team fails to understand the communications styles or needs of another. For example, perhaps your finance department is attempting to confirm payroll information with shift managers at a construction site. The finance department has been reaching out for weeks over email — only to discover that managers are rarely in front of their computers long enough to read the message. Communication is happening, but in all the wrong ways.
Your HR team is at the front line of solving this communication issue. By liaising between every department and paying visits to construction sites and manufacturing floors, HR teams are uniquely positioned to observe and understand the best communications practices of each team. Once the best form of communication has been pinpointed, an HR team can share that method with other departments, narrowing the communications gap that occurs when one team does not understand the realities of another. Such best practices and knowledge can be easily updated and accessed through an online collaboration solution.
Be Upfront About Succession
With nearly 40% of the construction workforce set to retire in the next decade, succession conversations must be happening in workplaces across the country. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. This communications gap causes tension and frustration among younger employees — one third of whom quit because they feel as though there are no career advancement opportunities available.
Having your HR team use succession software to plan for workplace attrition will not only quell employee concern around future opportunities, but will help your business be prepared for when baby boomers leave the building for the final time. Mapping where skills gaps may soon lie will allow you to better prepare current employees for growth and be more strategic in your hiring of new team members.
Communications issues happen everywhere, but it is up to you to decide how large an impact they will take on your business. Providing HR teams the right performance management tools will ensure the long-term sustainability of your company and its employees.