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Identifying and Solving 3 Common Workplace Communication Problems

Good workplace communication is key to managing a successful department, no matter what industry you’re in. Engagement, efficiency, productivity, working relationships, and morale all take a hit without proper communication. However, this is often much easier said than done. Eventually, communication problems in the workplace can lead to staff turnover, mistakes and conflict, and a negative attitude within your department. If you’re a business like an aquatics, fitness, or gymnastics center, you may even lose clients which impacts revenue.

First, let’s explore why it is so important for managers to take control of workplace communication. Then, we will take a look at some of the main internal communication stumbling blocks and how to solve them. 

Why is Effective Communication in the Workplace so Critical?

For one, it’s important to remember that your organization is a business, even if you’re in higher education or the government and it doesn’t always feel that way. The data experts over at McKinsey tell us employees are 20% to 25% more productive in businesses where effective communication takes place. 

David Grossman reported in “The Cost of Poor Communications” that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees. That number is astounding, but you shouldn’t assume it doesn’t apply to you just because you might be a smaller team. In the article “The Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” Debra Hamilton says that miscommunication costs companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year. 

It isn’t only about money. Being able to communicate effectively gives employees a boost in morale and a sense of commitment to the company – also known as engagement. This does wonders to boost their job satisfaction and serves to reduce employee turnover and the hiring costs that come along with it. Your employees crave a work environment where communication between themselves, their manager, and their peers is effortless.

What Causes a Breakdown in Communication?

A big part of employee management is identifying where a problem stems from to solve it effectively. Now that we know why it’s so important to solve communication problems, we can move on to identifying the root causes. Pay special attention to these three:

Too Many Tools 

Time and time again, research tells us that employees work better and are more engaged if they’re able to communicate directly with their coworkers and solve their own problems without bringing in management. It’s important to note that by “problems” in this context we mean things like needing to swap shifts, pick up a new shift that is available, or find coverage for a shift they can no longer work. 

Most organizations fall victim to having several tools that staff can use to accomplish the same goal. Take communication for instance: there might be a messaging app in place, some people use email, others may text, some organizations use trade boards, and so much more. Having this many tools creates in environment where staff do not know where to go. They end up checking everything, or interrupting others, and eventually grow tired of the process. When these tools run independently of the schedule they will inevitably require manager involvement to make a change or approval, costing your leaders time as well.

Because this process is loaded with so many extra, unnecessary steps employees simply tell their manager they can't come in which shifts a problem to your plate rather than empowering your staff to find solutions that work for them. Simply put, you’re giving yourself more work while your staff start to feel disengaged and frustrated. 

False Assumptions 

A huge barrier for effective communication in the workplace is false assumptions. Workplace misunderstandings often come from team members assuming that they already did their part of a process and fulfilled their responsibility. However, it frequently just shifts it off them without a solution being reached and places the burden on someone else. For example, an employee may simply text their manager they can no longer work a shift. They haven't found coverage, and now the manager has to transition from strategic work in order to fill the void.  

Time off requests getting lost or entered incorrectly is also common when you do not have a clear and automated process in place. If a day off is forgotten and you ask that staff member to come in anyway, you've just found a sure-fire way to torpedo that staff member's commitment to the team.

Undefined and Manual Processes 

Let's look at the process for requesting and approving time off. Why would an employee think they requested Sunday off if they did not? More than likely, it’s because there isn’t an effective process to communicate these requests. One person uses email to let you know, another person places a sticky note on your desk, while a third member of your team just tells you in passing when they need off. 

These employees think that by telling you they needed Sunday off, you would remember when you were creating next week’s schedule. The reality is that we're all human and without proper processes in place, morale and communication is vulnerable to human error - and, we're all human. 

It’s beginning to be more and more clear how these three problems are all really parts of one giant problem – you don’t have the right software system and processes in place to facilitate great employee communication and all the good things that come with it: accountability, flexibility, improved morale, and better team collaboration.  

How to Overcome Communication Problems

Employee management, including the communication problems you’re currently dealing with, can be made much simpler with SubItUp’s software. There are two ways we think about improving communication: how we can streamline the number of tools you use and how we can weave communication best-practices into the fabric of your scheduling processes.

Centralize Communications to One App

SubItUp is equipped with a variety of communication tools that will solve the problems mentioned above, as well as many others. We deliver every messaging tool you need, centralized to one platform. It's the right tool for your team. 

On the SubItUp platform, you can create and send in-app, email, and text messages from one portal. Employees can too. To directly communicate with individual team members, entire positions, or your entire event staff, simply select an employee or group and how you'd like to send that message, then fire away. 

Weave Communication Into Your Processes

We also enable better peer-to-peer communication without staff or managers having to send a message at all. For example, when an employee wants to drop a shift SubItUp alerts their eligible peers that can work in that role that a shift is available for them to pick up. It also reminds that staff member that they're still accountable for their shift until a solution to the coverage issue is found. Another example is how SubItUp handles time off requests. If an employee requests time off, but already has a shift on that day, they'll need to find coverage first. SubItUp then provides a list of staff who are available to work during that time, and allows that employee to reach out to their teammates from directly within the system. When that happens, the employee will receive a notification that they've been asked to swap or cover a shift.

These are just a few examples of how better processes, that automate communication, will create fewer gaps in your schedule and streamline the steps employees and managers take to ensure everything runs smoothly on a daily basis. 

We’d love the opportunity to show you exactly how our software can transform the way your department communicates. Click the button below for a free, personalized demo to learn more.

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