Back To Basics: Communication In The Workplace | EAPA-SA

In today’s rapidly changing business climate, good communication is important for everyone, from top level executives to client facing employees and junior staff. Organisations that fail to communicate clear strategies and do not engage employees in shared goals are likely to lose their employees to companies with more effective communication practices.

Being empowered to communicate up and down an organisation’s communication chain typically leads to a boost in employee morale, productivity and commitment. It allows companies to be productive and operate effectively.

1. Communication serves two essential functions in every organisation
• It disseminates the information needed by employees to get things done, and
• it builds relationships of trust and commitment.

2. Workplace communication improves worker productivity
• Widespread research shows that effective organisation-wide communication leads to an improvement in overall company performance.
• It has also been revealed that employees who are ranked the highest in work productivity receive the most effective communication from their superiors.

3. Workplace communication can increase employee job satisfaction
• Employees feel empowered if they are able to pass on upward communication. This type of communication is when information flows upward in an organisation and usually consists of providing feedback. If employers or managers listen to employees and respond, this leads to an increase in employee job satisfaction.
• Employees are also happy if there is strong downward communication, which is information flowing down from superiors or managers.

4. Workplace communication can also have a positive effect on absenteeism and staff turnover rates
• Communication flow is very important to workers. Employees need to feel secure that they are receiving truthful and updated information from superiors.
• They also want to have the ability to share ideas, thoughts and concerns within the company.
• Studies show that even after a period of downsizing, companies that practice excellent communication are able to retain their surviving employees.

5. The business impact of poor communication
• Staff morale plummets when communication is ambiguous, unfocused, lacking in important details and does not allow for genuine two-way dialogue.
• Critically, the impact of poor communication will affect customers and suppliers. Organisations run the risk of them feeling disenfranchised and taking their business elsewhere.1

More than ever before, employees working in the digital age must know how to communicate in order to effectively convey and receive messages in person as well as via the phone, by email, and through online communication apps like Whatsapp and other social media. The Top 10, most desirable communication skills to be found in employees are cited as:

The Top 10 communication skills for employees
1. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions so as to communicate effectively, overcome challenges and empathise with others. It’s a skill which is learned over time rather than obtained. There are four main strands to emotional intelligence: self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management.
2. Cohesion and Clarity
Good communication is much more than saying the right thing; it is about communicating messages clearly and concisely. Lack of clarity and cohesion can result in poor decisions and confusion.
3. Friendliness
In any type of communication it is important to set the right tone. A friendly tone will encourage communication.
4. Confidence
In all interactions, confidence is crucial. Demonstrating confidence will give colleagues and customers faith in one’s abilities to deliver what they need, and that one will follow through with what has been promised.
5. Empathy
Within a busy work environment, everyone will have their own ideas about how things should be done. Even if one has disagreements with colleagues or partners, other people’s points of view should be considered and respected. The goa is to understand where the other person is coming from – and respect their views even if they are very different from one’s own.
6. Respect
Empathy leads respect. If you respect the ideas and opinions of others, they will be more likely to communicate with you. Active listening or simply using the name of the person one is speaking to can both be effective in gaining respect.
7. Listening
Good communication is all about listening effectively. Paying attention to what another person is saying, asking questions and clarifying points, and rephrasing what they have said so that you know you have understood correctly are all part of active listening.
8. Open Mindedness
Strong communications require an open mind and a commitment to understanding other people’s points of view. Approaching a discussion with an open mind is more likely to result in a successful outcome.
9. Tone of Voice
The tone of your voice can set the whole mood of the conversation. The same sentence can have a very different meaning depending on which words are emphasised and the tone of your voice. The tone of your voice will include the level of emotion that you use, the volume you use and the level of communication you choose.
10. Asking Good Questions
Good questions can help conversations flow and improve the outcome. Open-ended questions, with prompts, encourage the recipient to speak about certain points and they require more detailed responses.2


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