Is Communication Important in the Workplace Today?
The success of any business is predetermined not only by the careful choice and implementation of market strategies, quality of products and services, or strong leadership but also by communication established among all people involved in it. Communication serves two major purposes: it is used for spreading information (both orally and in a written form) for employees to understand what instructions they have to follow, and for building personal and business relationships. When it fails to meet these objectives, the company and its workers start moving in an indefinite direction with no clear ultimate goal. Unless the two-way interaction is ensured, it can tell negatively on employees, leaders, customers, and suppliers who lose the feeling of engagement in the same process.
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Previously, good communicative skills were considered to be added to other, more specific qualifications of an applicant; however, in the present-day business world characterized by the quickly changing environment, the requirement to be able to build successful interactions has already become obligatory. This is explained by the fact that companies unwilling to introduce effective communication practices generally drag behind those that pay closer attention to this success factor.
Diversity is another reason that makes communication an issue of paramount importance. People of different ages and gender, coming from different ethnic, social, educational, and professional backgrounds have to work together finding common points to meet their professional and personal goals.
However, even though everyone understands the role of communication, many organizations still encounter communicative failures.
Before analyzing the effects of poor communication in the workplace, we should take a closer look at the factors that cause it.
One of the major roles of the leader is to direct the employees’ actions. When the leader cannot give clear written and oral instructions and fails to answer questions that arise in the working process, he/she produces a negative effect on the overall system of interactions within the company.
Indeterminate objectives and duties
Many organizations start by giving a new employee a list of his/her duties. However, they often forget to discuss what goals he/she should pursue, what steps he/she will have to go through, and what outcomes have to be achieved at each step. As a result of this negligence, the employer cannot get the desired feedback when it comes to problem-solving, and the employee often feels awkward to initiate communication for clarifying vague issues.
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Lack of knowledge
It may concern not only education but also knowledge about the company, its departments, structure, and connections. Unless future employees are thoroughly trained, they distort interactions down the line. The less they know about the organization, the worse they communicate with the employer, co-workers, and customers.
Lack of feedback
Managers who discourage a two-way dialogue can also harm the communicative process. When employees are not welcome to share their ideas and suggestions, they not only lose motivation but also refrain from establishing connections.
Lack of interest
When employees lose interest in the work they perform, they no longer care about the success of the organization, its objectives, and novelties. Moreover, they have no incentives to provide feedback to their managers, therefore communication is damaged.
Many companies employ workers from abroad. Unless video conferencing is possible, the lack of body language and facial expressions may result in misinterpretations. Besides, it necessitates professional skills of written communication as message exchange becomes the major medium of interaction.
All the above-mentioned factors hinder communicative practices in the working environment, which results in the following business costs:
The increase in turnover rates
Ineffective communication often makes people leave their positions. The cost of such leaves and further replacement of workers is incredibly high and hard to compensate. On the contrary, companies that do not have problems with communication tend to have lower turnover rates than the industry average.
Loss of motivation
When communicative practices of an organization are insufficient, unstable, detached, or negative in some other way, its employees lose motivation to go to work and discuss problems that they encounter. It affects the quality of their performance. Besides, it has been proven that the absence of written instructions, the unclarity of oral directions, and tense relationships with colleagues directly impact absence rates.\
Low-quality customer service
Frustrating communication experience with the employer results in poor customer service. Employees, who have no written instructions to rely upon and cannot communicate their problems directly to the manager, simply do not know how to satisfy their customers or solve ambiguous cases. This leads to their indifference to the working process in the long run.
Poor communicative strategies can damage product quality, too. Unless the workers have a step-by-step production process guide, they rely on their suppositions about what is the right thing to do, which leads to defects.
Change management failures
The rapidly changing business world necessitates constant improvements and changes in strategies, approaches, and methods. However, any novelties have to struggle against people’s conservative resistance to change. The point is that the success of change management is largely predetermined by the ability of managers to communicate the value of the proposed innovations that could make employees change their mind and opt for the new way of development. Unless the leader possesses enough eloquence to convince his/her employees, change attempts are unlikely to be met with enthusiasm.
One-third of all projects fail because of poor communication, both written and oral. Employees cannot decide how to organize collective work, do not engage in group discussions via the Internet or person, and tend to work only on their part of the project. As a result, the whole idea cannot be materialized, and the company loses money.
Higher risk of injuries
Injuries in the workplace happen mostly because of a lack of communication on the topic. Most employers do not pay enough attention to preventive measures. As a result, even if employees have safety guides, they usually neglect them. When no one cares to inform people about dangers, they behave much more carelessly.
Increased litigation occurrence
Employees who suffer from stress caused by negative communicative practices with their employers or co-workers are the main reason for the increased number of lawsuits. The company that cannot regulate conflicts is likely to waste thousands of dollars on compensation.
Taking into consideration all the negative impacts poor interaction may have, we may state that despite the rapid development of technologies, human communication in any of its forms is still irreplaceable. Managers should make sure that their employees possess sufficient knowledge, skills, and tools to have quality communicative practices. Otherwise, additional costs and general dissatisfaction with the working process coming from communicative failures will be inevitable.