Legacy Community Health Service: Communication Audit

Executive Summary

This report dwells upon the use of external and internal communication channels at Legacy Community Health Service. It has been found that both types of communication are utilized quite effectively. Employees of our organization also believe that these channels are rather effective and help them address all the working issues that occur. At the same time, some downsides have been identified. These are downsides in our company’s documentation (especially documents associated with insurance and personal data of patients), underestimation of informal communication, and overreliance on oral channels when it comes to external communication. It is necessary to implement certain training to employees, there is also a need for the creation of a team that will focus on internal communication channels and, finally, IT specialists should improve our organization’s website.

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Introduction

Legacy Community Health Service is one of the leading healthcare services providers in Texas. One of the most significant peculiarities of our organization is its focus on providing high-quality services to diverse populations. Hynes (2011) states that contemporary companies have to develop proper communication management strategies to remain competitive in the world of information and technology. Companies often make losses due to inappropriate information management and proper communication is an important component.

Such complex organizations as Legacy Community Health Services are especially vulnerable to contingencies associated with inefficient communication strategies. Our organization collaborates with a variety of companies, charities, and individuals, it provides services to people and, hence, it should communicate with patients, their relatives, and caregivers, representatives of non-profit organizations, donators (both corporate and individual) and representatives of the community (Caring: In many faces and many places, 2013). Since our facilities provide healthcare services, our company should also communicate with insurance providers. Finally, to remain an effective organization, employees of Legacy Community Health Service should be able to communicate effectively within the organization to achieve our company’s goals.

This report provides a brief analysis of the major communication channels utilized in our organization. Recommendations to improve communication strategies are also given. The analysis is based on a survey that included interviews with three employees from our company. The participants are a Health Services Supervisor, HR Generalist, and Referral Coordinator. These professionals are chosen as they have to collaborate with all the partners and customers mentioned above.

Findings

It is necessary to note that employees of Legacy Community Health Services often utilize internal and external communication channels. Each of these communication patterns can also be divided into formal and informal communication channels. It is necessary to add that informal communication channels have often been largely underestimated especially by top management of many organizations. Researchers stress that this type of communication is also very important for any organization, as people need to have an opportunity to socialize (Hynes, 2011). Such informal communication patterns (talks during lunch, rumors and so on) help employees satisfy their natural needs in informal communication and they also can help obtain some information concerning work and the atmosphere in the working place.

It is an important way to obtain information and understand what is going on in the organization. Of course, it is essential to be careful as the information is often hardly credible. Nonetheless, the very existence of some rumors can help top management to respond to some issues. For instance, there can be rumors about cuts, which can lead to frustration and tension as well as losing valuable employees. If the top management responds timely to such a situation, it will avoid the issues mentioned above. The wide range of channels used suggests that our organization is making use of all possibilities to properly manage information and communication strategies. However, it is also clear that some of these channels need certain improvements.

Internal Communication Channels

Internal communication channels are used by employees to communicate within the organization. It is necessary to note that employees are quite satisfied with the internal communication channels available in our company. The participants of the survey state that internal communication is satisfactory as it enables them to complete their tasks rather effectively. At the same time, some areas have to be improved. It is noteworthy that the communication channels slightly differ at different levels and it is associated with the level of satisfaction of employees. It is necessary to take a closer look at each type of communication with a specific focus on formal and informal channels.

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Formal communication channels

Notably, when it comes to formal communication channels, employees tend to prefer written communication to oral (see fig. 1). The two types of communication serve different purposes, but the participants tend to regard written communication as the most cost-effective, so-to-speak. It is often more preferable as it requires less time but it enables employees to reach a lot of people. At the same time, when it comes to training, education or negotiations, oral communication is put to the fore. This is true for all levels and employees strongly believe that only face-to-face communication can be effective.

Employees’ satisfaction with internal communication channels
Figure 1. Employees’ satisfaction with internal communication channels

As has been mentioned above, the communication channels are used and evaluated a bit differently by employees working at different levels. The participants stress that written communication is primary at such complex organizations as Legacy Community Health Services. They note that written forms of communication enable them to address the necessary employees (departments, facilities and so on) within the necessary time limits. There is also a well-established norm to respond to written messages so no message is left without attention.

However, when evaluating the effectiveness of the written forms of communication, the participants’ views differ. The Health Services Supervisor and the HR Generalist are satisfied with the communication channels existing in our organization. They state that emails and documentation (especially reports) provided by employees contain all the necessary information. They are also able to get quick updates through emails and internal networks. Nonetheless, the Referral Coordinator argues some reports are not well-thought and they need to include more information. At that, the employee stresses that other employees often fail to complete the forms correctly and this leads to various issues when dealing with insurance companies. Errors often occur, as employees are often overloaded with tasks. Importantly, the Referral Coordinator has some ideas on possible ways to improve some reports and documents.

Informal communication channels

As for internal informal communication channels, it is possible to note that the employees mention it as an important way to elicit some information concerning work and our organization. It is possible to assume that employees are quite satisfied with informal communication channels. At that, they do not often exploit this type of communication.

It is noteworthy that top management is quite reluctant to take this information seriously or pay any attention to it. The Health Services Supervisor only occasionally uses this communication channel. She notes that she does not have much time to process all the information and she focuses on formal channels. Sometimes she may discuss certain things during lunchtime with her colleagues. However, she notes that such talks may be a way to relax for some minutes and no significant information can come out.

It is necessary to add that the Referral Coordinator who collaborates with other employees, patients, and insurance companies also finds the informal communication channels as an inevitable part of people’s lives. She does not use these channels often and, when she does, this is mainly a way to distract from the workload. She does not take this kind of information seriously, as she thinks it is not credible.

At the same time, the HR Generalist believes that the informal communication channels are very important, but top managers of our organization ignore it. The HR Generalist often communicates with employees in informal settings. He notes that people are more relaxed and more eager to share when informal communication patterns are used. Of course, this approach may require additional time but it provides HR professionals with important information concerning plans and needs of employees. This also helps create rapport and trust in the working place. The appropriate atmosphere in the working place is one of the advantages of the majority of successful companies. Effective staffing is central to the success of our organization and, hence, HR professionals have to understand the needs and wants of employees (especially promising ones, or the so-called stars or talents).

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External Communication Channels

External communication channels are used to communicate with patients and their caregivers, other organizations, insurance companies and so on. The most common types of external communication channels employed in our organization are (meetings and telephone conversations, workshops/events, our company’s official website, press releases, and annual reports). It is necessary to note that employees have quite different views on the use of these channels.

However, there is a common opinion that meetings and telephone conversations are most effective when it comes to external communication. These two types of oral communication can be combined as the employees see them equally important. More so, they are seen as very similar and, in many situations, interchangeable. It is also important to add that external communication channels are positively evaluated and they are seen as effective.

Oral communication

It is possible to state that meetings and telephone conversations are seen as the most efficient ways to communicate with patients, partners, insurance companies. In this way, the employees of our company can solve many issues quite quickly and effectively.

Employees’ satisfaction with external communication channels
Figure 2. Employees’ satisfaction with external communication channels

Interestingly, the participants of the survey have slightly different views on this type of oral communication. Thus, the Health Services Supervisor stresses that during meetings with other companies and partners, it is easier to develop proper relationships based on trust and support. Negotiations are more effective when held face to face. The Health Services Supervisor also notes that it is important to develop proper relationships with the community and this is best done through meetings, various workshops, and other venues. Our organization pays a lot of attention to such events and they have proved to be effective as the community has a very positive view of Legacy Community Health Services (Building Healthy Communities, 2014).

The HR Generalist and Referral Coordinator also prefer communicating with employees or representatives of other organizations in person. These professionals stress that people often have various questions. The answers to these questions can hardly be found in any written source due to the complexity and originality of issues, as many cases are unique. It is also clear that the oral commination channels used in our organization are efficient as employees often resort to this type of communication.

Written communication

When it comes to written communication, employees of our organization believe it is quite effective. Nevertheless, its efficiency is seen as somewhat limited. Thus, the participants of the survey claim that the written messages tend to cover a very large audience. Any user of the internet can visit our company’s website and find a lot of information on it. Press releases also help spread the news.

However, these all messages are often confined to a particular topic (or several topics) only. Of course, they address the most common questions. However, as has been mentioned above, people are often interested in specific aspects or details and only oral communication with a qualified employee can enable them to find the necessary answers.

Conclusions

On balance, it is possible to note that internal and external communication channels employed at our organization are quite effective and employees provide quite positive feedback concerning them. At the same time, certain areas could and should be improved. For instance, some types of internal written communication channels (some reports provided by healthcare professionals, especially when it comes to issues associated with insurance) are rather inefficient. The reports sent can be incomplete or can be filled inappropriately. This often leads to conflict situations with customers, representatives of other organizations or conflict in the working place. Another area of concern is insufficient attention to informal communication channels. This is especially true for the top management of our organization.

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As far as external communication channels are concerned, they are also effective though they may need certain improvement. There is a trend in the overestimation of oral communication channels. It is clear that written messages are efficient but they are too limited to respond to a large array of issues. Employees of our organization rely heavily on oral communication especially face-to-face meetings.

Recommendations

Given the above said, it is possible to identify several strategies to improve the communication channels employed. The recommendations will address several aspects.

Internal Formal Written Communication Channels

It is necessary to implement certain changes in the sphere of reporting. Some forms need substantial revisions. Thus, it is important to create a team that will work on the creation of new forms and reports. As has been mentioned above, the Referral Coordinator has certain ideas on the way to improve the situation. It is possible to assume that many professionals working in our organization also have some ideas and suggestions. Therefore, the team should include representatives of all departments. Of course, HR Generalists and Referral Coordinators of the facilities should take part in this project as these specialists often process reports.

The team should start by collecting data on the shortcomings of the existing documents. All departments should develop a list of the most controversial documents and provide their rationale as well as recommendations, expectations or needs. Of course, all these lists should be well-thought. The head of the department is responsible for the timely provision of the list. This stage can take up to two or three weeks.

These lists should be analyzed by the team and major downsides of documentation should be identified. The members of the team will develop amendments to each document if necessary. It can also be effective to decrease the number of reports provided to diminish the unnecessary workload. This can also take up to three weeks. When the amendments are completed, it is necessary to launch a series of training for the staff. Employees of our organization should know what changes have taken place and why they occurred. Only after training and certain assessment (or a trial period), it is possible to make the documents the accepted forms used for written communication.

Internal Informal Communication Channels

As has been mentioned above, informal communication is quite important for any organization. Our company can also benefit from the proper use of this type of communication. Top managers and HR professionals have to take part in several training sessions devoted to informal communication. These employees should understand that informal communication channels enable supervisors to learn more about the atmosphere in the working place. It is possible to understand the needs, wants and level of satisfaction of employees. Employees of our organization should process this information properly and remember that it is less credible than information obtained through formal communication channels.

External Oral Communication Channels

It is necessary to stress that external oral communication channels are very effective and widely used by employees of our organization. However, it is also clear that overreliance on this type of communication may lead to delays or poor performance of some employees. In many cases, oral communication can be replaced by written channels (emails, mobile notifications, properly developed written messages and so on).

Certain training may be needed to address this issue. The development of comprehensive written messages is one of the priorities of this training. Employees (especially top management) should develop written messages that would include all the necessary information for people to make a decision. Of course, in many cases, only face-to-face meetings can help employees achieve certain goals. Nonetheless, overreliance on oral communication should be diminished.

External Written Communication Channels

As has been mentioned above, there should be some changes when it comes to written communication channels. Apart from training on the development of properly written messages, it is important to review the major written communication channel of our organization. Our company’s website may need certain improvements. Our IT department will play a major part in this process, but all employees can share their ideas.

First, the departments working with customers, other organizations, partners and so on should make a list of topics (questions) to be included in our website. It is also important to make the navigation process easier as the customers may simply feel lost and frustrated when looking for the information they need. This leads to calls and oral communication that can be avoided.

Therefore, the mentioned above strategies can help our organization improve the use of communication channels, which will lead to the improvement of its performance.

References

Building healthy communities. (2014). Web.

Caring: In many faces and many places: Annual report 2013. (2014). Web.

Hynes, G.E. (2011). Managerial communication: Strategies and applications. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, November 30). Legacy Community Health Service: Communication Audit. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/legacy-community-health-service-communication-audit/

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