How to Measure Effective Communication in the Workplace

 

“If we consider that $39,818 is the average annual wage in the OECD member countries, and 1,686 is the average annual hours worked per employee, then ineffective employee communication could be costing you an average of $15,350 per worker, per year in terms of time wasted searching for information. Extrapolate that to a 1,000-employee company, and you’re looking at over $15 million wasted per year!”

Smarp, 2019

 

Effective communication isn’t often measured in the workplace but it can cost companies thousands of dollars if not addressed. In this article we’ll look at KPIs to measure workplace communication efficacy, how these can be used in real-world situations, and also consider why SEDNA’s intelligent communications system might just be the perfect solution to chaotic, overwhelming, or simply less-than-optimized communications. 

 

Index

Introduction: Why Measuring Effective Workplace Communication Matters

 

“According to new research, an astounding 63% of employees today report a desire to quit their jobs. The reason? It’s not about money, opportunities for advancement, or a poor selection of snacks in the break room. In the modern-day workplace, many employees have considered quitting because of ineffective communication that interferes with their ability to do their jobs.”

HR Daily Advisor, 2019

 

It’s all too easy to overlook internal communications as a side issue when it comes to your company’s bottom line, and yet, study after study reveals that poor communication within your workplace can cost you millions. Of course, one of the primary issues is that for many companies, it’s an issue that’s assumed to be under control. After all, there are plenty of meetings every day, and emails are more common than a seagull around a sausage roll, so how could your internal communication be anything but stellar? 

 

The problem, however, is not only with the communication methods enterprises adopt but also with a lack of monitoring. Without KPIs on communication, how can you assume to know just how well or wayward your internal (and external) dialogues are? 

 

These concerns are by no means new, but in light of the recent mainstream shift to remote work, there seems to be a renewed interest in what effective communication can mean for enterprises, especially those still using old-world tools. 

 

To help, we’ve taken a deep dive into the best ways to effectively measure your workplace communication and find out if it’s as transparent, clear, and efficient as you think. 

 

Related: Read How Ardmore Improved Effective Workplace Communication and Regained 550 Hours with SEDNA

 

Key Steps to Measuring Effective Communication

 

1 Set Baseline KPIs

You don’t know what you don’t know without KPIs, so when dealing with frequent internal errors, high turnover, or poor employee engagement—all of which can be symptoms of poor workplace communication—all you know is that somewhere along the way, your business has run into problems. With the appropriate KPIs, however, you can start to effectively measure the strengths and weaknesses of your internal communications and start to improve on them. 

The top-level KPIs to effectively measure internal communications are: 

 

Open rates 

Pay attention to Open rates on internal and company-wide emails and newsletters. These company-wide communications are vital for keeping employees informed, and engagement levels with these announcements can go a long way into understanding communication breakdowns that your team might be facing.

 

Turnover 

Retention and turnover are two huge indicators that your internal communications aren’t functioning correctly. As referenced in the quote above, over half of employees will leave if your internal communications hinder more than they help, and turnover can have a significant financial impact on your bottom line by default: 

 

Voluntary turnover alone cost U.S. industry in excess of $630 billion, an increase of $30 billion over 2018.”

Work Institute, 2020

 

Pulse Surveys 

Pulse Surveys are an excellent way to get a sense of how your team feels about your company’s internal communications. The other benefit is that their short and frequent nature means you get numerous touchpoints with employees throughout the year and can adjust accordingly. 

 

Employee Advocacy 

Employee advocacy is one of your greatest marketing tools, and its presence—or lack thereof—can be a key indicator of your employees’ overall engagement and feelings towards internal communication. For example, without clear communications on how employees can share your exciting company updates, many employees will hold back:

 

“More than 39% of respondents indicated they were not adequately trained on how to find and share brand or business-related updates, while only 35% indicated they felt confident in what they could say”

Tribal Impact, 2021

 

Video Views 

As with open rates on company newsletters, low video views on topics such as strategy or processes can go a long way in explaining problems with your internal communications:

 

74% of employees feel they are missing out on company news…72% of employees feel they don’t have a proper understanding of the company’s strategy”

Dynamic Signal, 2020

 

Crisis Management

How efficient your team is when dealing with a crisis can be a fundamental indicator of how effective your internal communications are. If problems fail to be addressed quickly and your team doesn’t know the processes they need to follow, it’s more than likely there’s been a miscommunication from upper management. 

 

Employee Productivity 

There’s a myriad of reasons why work doesn’t happen, but employee productivity can be as much down to poor communications as it can anything else:

 

“80% of US employees feel stressed due to ineffective company communication.”

Lead Growth Develop, 2020

 

Internal Errors 

The frequency and nature of internal errors are hugely informative in discovering if communication breakdowns between teams or across tools exist.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a general business KPI, of course, but it’s one that can help paint a picture of how effective your internal workings are. Having this overview between external and internal communications-which are, after all, symbiotic, can give you a 360-degree overview of your communication and give you intelligent self-awareness as to how well your business is functioning. 

 

KPIs Are Set – Now What?

Once you have KPIs, you can begin to follow the breadcrumbs back to the source of your internal communication problems. Is it that you don’t have the correct tools? Are meetings being used effectively? Do employees know what information needs to be shared where? Once you have identified the problems, you can set about building bridges, and with that in mind, below are some common workplace communication issues and how you can use your KPIs to solve them. 

 

1. Acknowledge the Need for an Internal Communication Strategy Plan

Just like a map for a road trip, an internal communication plan is better to have today rather than later when you’re already lost in the woods. A good internal communication strategy document should include: the KPIs you will measure, a plan for what information should live where, and an outline of goals and timelines. With clearly defined rules on how employees can best communicate and collaborate, you can stop a great deal of confusion before it starts. 

 

2. Remember That Email Is a Thief

 

“Statistics show that an average professional only responds to 25% of emails in her inbox. Furthermore, professionals check their emails every 37 minutes – that’s 15 times per day.”

Tech Jury, 2021

 

Rather like time, email is a thief. For big enterprises, email is a well-ingrained form of workplace communication, though it’s not one that’s necessarily evolved to keep up with modern business practices. Email took to the stage back in the mid-1970s, and in what will come as a surprise to no one, it hasn’t changed all that much—while the complexity and scale of modern enterprises have only grown. 

 

A myriad of studies show that email as we traditionally know and use it usually only serves to overwhelm employees, information gets buried in threads, people forget to CC in their colleagues and you open your inbox every Monday only to wish you could swap lives with your cat:

 

“A full 60.8% of respondents in a survey about workplace communication preferences revealed they either occasionally, often or always ignore emails at work.”

Glassdoor, 2019

 

So is email dead? Before we acknowledge our clear bias and give you a nod towards our own way of using email, let’s consider those of you who still use traditional email platforms. The problem with email, to our mind, isn’t really email, but our expectations of it. If our workplace email threads are taller than Everest and everyone is sending an email for every thought that enters their heads, then it is little wonder that email becomes overwhelming. With that in mind, let’s look at some simple ways you can start making internal emails work for you and help you and your team communicate with one another effectively. 

 

How to Monitor and Improve Workplace Emails
  • Create an employee Pulse Survey. Do employees feel that overall the emails received are relevant, action-based, and clear?
  • As part of your internal communication strategy document, introduce email best practice guidelines such as all emails needing to include, or be in response to, an actionable agenda. The S.M.A.R.T technique is a great starting point for this. 
  • Monitor how many errors can be traced back to poor email communication. Should the email have been a meeting, or should it have been documented in a project management platform?
  • Consider changing your email platform to one that better suits your business needs.

 

SEDNA’s Reimagined Email Solution 

We did say we were biased. The thing is, SEDNA was built with a key idea in mind: email as we know it is unable to keep up with the demands of modern businesses. It’s slow, cumbersome, and requires endless manual management:

 

“A study of 2,000 office workers found they typically spend around two hours each day browsing their inbox…As a result, around five hours per week – or 230 hours a year – of productivity is lost.”

Independent, 2019

 

Email has become the direct enemy of productivity in its current form, and that’s why SEDNA was created. It’s an email inbox as a foundation, but designed to provide you with an intelligent digital workspace that serves you rather than the other way around.  Take a look at our Product Overview for a full breakdown of how SEDNA directly solves the problems of email for more insight.  

 

3. Ensure Meetings Are Action-Based

 

“More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents say that spending too much time in meetings and on calls distracts them from making an impact at work.”

Korn Ferry, 2019

 

Meetings are frequently bemoaned as a waste of time that rarely serves any practical purpose. It’s a conclusion which is deeply unfair given the many benefits this form of communication can have. The real issue with meetings, of course, is their unstructured, siloed nature. More often than not, employees are dragged from what they’re currently focusing on only to come away with no concrete plan as to how to move forward. So, how can you fix it?

 

How to Monitor and Improve Workplace Meetings

  • Understanding how effective your meetings are often requires you to refer back to your internal communication document. Do the meetings your team currently attend meet the criteria you’ve outlined? If information is getting lost in multiple conversations and employees are concerned that their time is being wasted, then your meetings aren’t aligned to your communication strategy plan. It’s this key document, after all, that gives employees a guideline as to what requires a meeting and what needs to be an update in your project management tool.
  • Are your meetings action-based? This should be outlined in your strategy document and is perhaps the best yardstick available in determining how successful meetings are. If people don’t know what a meeting’s agenda is and worse, come away with no clear plan as to next steps, the meeting is usually, by definition, a failure. Make sure there are processes in place so that you can see the relationship between meetings and actions. Do they align or are there meetings simply for meeting’s sake
  • Pulse Surveys can once again be your best friend in finding out if employees feel that the meetings they’re involved in are actually helpful in completing their work. 
  • Focus groups can be excellent in discovering the overall consensus on any given topic. By having a focus group discuss the topic of meeting effectiveness, you can quickly identify if meetings are being structured in a way that helps work move forward. 

 

 4. Make Good Use of 1-2-1s

You couldn’t ask for a better insight into your workplace than the accounts given to you during 1-2-1s, and yet more often than not companies sideline 1-2-1s as non-vital. Unlike a survey, or a passing: “How’s it going?”  during a Zoom meeting, 1-2-1s allow for flexible and frank communication that’s useful for all involved-and often means catching communication failures elsewhere in the business before they happen. No one can be everywhere at once, but by taking time to give employees a platform for two-way feedback, leaders can get a more holistic view of their workplace. 

 

How to Monitor and Improve Employee 1-2-1s

  • Keep records of what’s discussed during 1-2-1s so that you’re able to measure the progress of internal challenges and respond quickly. SEDNA’s answer to this is with our Notes feature which is perfect for jotting down ideas or summarizing meetings that you can then easily share with your team. 
  • Ask employees directly if the current 1-2-1s are useful to them and if they feel that their frequency and content are helpful in solving workplace challenges.

 

5: Simplify Your Workflow and Project Management Tools

 

“It’s estimated that $1 million is wasted every 20 seconds on project management tasks that can be automated. This adds up to a $438bn annual problem.” 

PM Today, 2021

 

Despite the good intention of workflows and the multitude of platforms companies use in the name of project management, these areas of the business are often the ones where communication breakdown between colleagues and teams can really begin to hit home. One of the simplest ways to streamline your workflows, add automation, and minimize communication breakdowns, of course, is to bring connection to your workflow and platforms, which is another element SEDNA is a fan of – but more on that later. 

 

How to Monitor and Improve Workflows and Projects
  • Taking note of average process times and how often deadlines are hit can be a great indicator as to how well your workflows are running-from this baseline you can quickly establish how frequently these process times overrun and identify where the problem lies- and importantly, if communication is at the heart of it.
  • By keeping tabs on how often internal errors occur during a project’s lifetime, you can get an accurate sense as to whether the toolkits available to your employees-both in the tools they use and the workflows they’re asked to follow-are fit for purpose. 
  • By keeping an audit of the quality of each final project-especially in relation to customer satisfaction-you can quickly identify if poor communication is allowing mistakes to slip through the net. 

 

Key Takeaways to Ensure Effective Workplace Communication

To maximize the effectiveness of internal communications, businesses should:

 

  • Create a thorough internal communication strategy to ensure employees are all on the same page in terms of where and how internal communications should occur.
  • Create clear KPIs and monitor these regularly.  
  • Create company-wide newsletters about the latest ventures in your business to keep employees informed and engaged.
  • Use employee surveys to identify engagement levels and gain feedback on how they feel about the strengths and weaknesses of the business’s communication style. 
  • Recognize the limits of traditional email and consider alternative options.
  • Recognize the limits of not automating and streamlining processes and consider alternative options.
  • Analyze errors to determine if the problem was a direct manifestation of a communication breakdown or internal processes. 

 

As we’ve discussed at length, email is one of the most complicated aspects of workplace communication and in its traditional state, often does more harm than good. That’s why we created SEDNA. SEDNA reduces email volume by up to 95% and minimizes fragmented workplace communication by providing your business with a single interface from which all your work happens. By calculating how much time gets lost completing manual processes, searching through threads and remedying errors, SEDNA can drastically improve the efficiency of your business. 

 

 With intelligent automation and tagging, smart integrations with the likes of Salesforce and SharePoint, lightning-speed search, and team inbox for controlled transparency, SEDNA can cut back on internal communication breakdowns with ease.

Take a look at how SEDNA’s intelligent communication system turns email on its head and saves your company time, money and greatly reduces mistakes.