Relationships cannot thrive without open, effective communication. Businesses are no different.
Unfortunately, most businesses fail to make internal communication a priority. That is a road to organizational strife, chaos and ruin.
To avoid that fate, here are 15 ways to improve workplace communication:
1. Check in with employees on a regular basis.
Meet with workers either in person or online every few weeks or months. Invite them to discuss their projects, their tasks and the organization.
Employees want to be heard, and they want to share their thoughts and opinions. Regular meetings with free-flowing dialogue will improve your company’s internal communication and empower your staff.
2. Make internal knowledge and documents easily available.
As most companies work from a specific set of internal knowledge, it’s likely you have a built-in training program at your disposal. Does your onboarding capitalize on the wealth of staff knowledge?
Insecurity, secrecy and departmental rivalries can thwart the free flow of information, but making internal knowledge available on your intranet is a great way to keep communication humming—and to get new workers up to speed.
3. Assess your current internal communication methods.
What channels do you lean on the most? Do you track which avenues are most effective?
Many organizations are replacing email with social intranet software and messaging tools. It’s all about how your employees prefer to communicate.
4. Implement social intranet software.
Intranets are a tremendous tool for companywide collaboration, conversation and strategy. A hub keeps everyone informed and on the same page.
5. Create an open-door policy.
One major obstacle employees face is figuring out how to communicate with bosses. Instituting an open-door policy can improve your internal communication and defuse potential crises.
Encouraging open dialogue can motivate and empower staffers, though some will be hesitant to approach leadership. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular one-on-one meetings.
6. Take advantage of social media.
You probably have a documented external social media strategy, but what about protocols for internal purposes?
You can use social intranet software in the same manner. Encourage employees to share their interests with one another to create meaningful, work-related conversations. This combines relationship-building with achieving business objectives.
7. Create an internal language.
Every company has specific acronyms, monikers and inside jokes. Codifying these to construct a unique internal language is a fun way to keep people engaged. Along those same lines, creating your own style guide is a fine idea.
8. Identify a common goal.
You might know what your company’s goals are, but what about your colleagues? Identify, clarify and magnify common goals to build camaraderie and teamwork.
9. Send out an internal newsletter.
Keeping employees up to date never goes out of style. Just make sure your newsletter is enticing enough to sift through; otherwise it’s probably not worth the effort.
10. Rearrange your office.
Cubicles and partitions can isolate employees and hinder communication. Redesigning your office for a more open layout can facilitate collaboration and get people talking more.
11. Focus on company culture.
Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. Weaving your company culture into the workday can make employees feel more connected to each other and to the organization itself.
Use internal communications to build and nurture the culture you want to create.
12. Get outside the office.
Being stuck in the office for long periods of time can have negative psychological effects on you and your employees—especially during the colder months.
Sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery to perk people back up. Work outside or schedule a day when you can collaborate in a different setting.
13. Schedule a work retreat.
Let your staff take a day to enjoy each other—sans work. Before forcing everyone to do trust falls or play paintball, ask your team what they’d like to do.
14. Let your employees recharge.
Exhaustion, frustration and busy work are communication killers. If you see someone wearing down, encourage them to take a break. Whether it’s an extra hour for lunch, or perhaps a mental health day , let your colleagues recharge.
15. Strengthen connections between managers and employees.
Forging stronger, more collaborative relationships between employees and managers increases trust, boosts productivity and smooths the way for better internal communication.
That’s an easy way to bolster morale.
Tim Eisenhauer is co-founder of Axero Solutions and author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Break Down the Invisible Barriers to Employee Engagement. A version of this post first ran on Axero’s blog.