Think about your workplace. How’s the communication? Do you have to send a flurry of “just following up” emails before you get the response you need from a co-worker? Do you feel comfortable greeting others by name when you walk through the door in the morning, even if they’re from different departments? Do you feel that your leadership team delivers timely updates and important memos in a transparent way to the entire staff? Or, if you are the leadership, do you feel that you’ve created a company culture that fosters positive communication?
Communication in the workplace is the foundation for productivity, culture and employee experience. Without it, you may face everything from disgruntled employees to botched projects and high turnover.
Here are four tips for opening the lines of communication in your workplace.
Implement a True Open-Door Policy
Having an open-door policy works well in theory, but you can’t just ask managers to prop their doors open and expect communication to instantly improve. It’s important to let employees know what the open-door policy entails and why your company has made a commitment to upholding it.
As the Balance points out, organizations adopt an open-door policy to build employee trust and to give them an outlet for feedback, questions, comments, and concerns. The best way to make sure your open-door policy is impactful is to write it into your employee handbook and make it a company value. It’s also important to make sure that those with their doors open—including leadership and middle management—are equipped to listen and respond to employees in a productive manner.
Under the right conditions, an open-door policy allows for an honest exchange of ideas and feedback and lets everyone on staff know that they can always talk to their superiors if need be.
Crowdsource Important Decisions
One way to take employees’ opinions and insights seriously is to poll everyone before making a decision that will affect them. By gathering their feedback, hosting a discussion and implementing changes based on what you find, you’ll show them that their voice matters. They’ll also feel like a more integral part of the company.
One easy way to gather employee feedback is by using Poll Everywhere for Google Slides. Without leaving your presentation slides, you can round up group answers by having employees text, tweet or use a web browser to answer. Let’s say you’re in the planning stages for a major office renovation and you want to know what every department wants and needs out of their new, optimized workspace. After all, you wouldn’t want to sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into updates and miss any key needs! Instead of emailing out a survey link or trying to ask each person one-on-one, wouldn’t it be much easier to gather teams and conduct a quick online survey? After presenting the options using Google Slides, you can go right to the poll and instantly collect input.
Asking for and utilizing employees’ honest opinions are great steps in improving overall communications.
Boost Inter-Departmental Collaboration
Even with close-knit teams, your company’s inter-departmental communications may leave something to be desired. Be sure to boost collaboration and break down the “us versus the rest” mentality that holds so many organizations back.
As one communications expert writes for HuffPost, “Always look for ways to build connections between people, especially when there’s a lack of common work goals and interests. Open office layouts, group lunches, team outings, and retreats can encourage collaboration and sharing.”
Encourage “Water Cooler” Chit Chat
And finally, your business should foster casual chit chat just as much as it does work talk. Internal communication tools can help here. As convenient as they are for upping productivity and improving workflow, they can also be a great tool for helping employees get to know their colleagues. If you use Slack, consider implementing a #casual channel for (appropriate) non-work talk, like sharing animal videos, weekend plans or cool places to check out around the city.
If you’re going to maximize your company’s culture and work environment, communication is key. Start with these four ideas to help boost communication between departments, individuals, and leadership.