11 Ways to Improve Communication in the Workplace

What does “good” communication look like? And why do people want it for their organization?

Sir Richard Branson, CEO and founder of the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies across a wide range of fields, believes that “communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.”

Effective communication improves job satisfaction, lowers absenteeism rates, and creates a greater sense of camaraderie and personal ownership.

Great leaders know that developing their team’s strengths and weaknesses creates a stronger company. Thankfully, communication is something you can learn, and you can enable it in the workplace with the right processes, tools, and atmosphere.

Here are 11 ways you can improve communication in the workplace:

1. Encourage Social Interaction

Truly great communication stems from comfort. If your team members don’t know each other outside of work or fear judgment from saying the wrong thing, then they’ll often keep their thoughts to themselves.

That sort of environment doesn’t do anyone any good. It creates rigid conversations without any depth or risk. The best way to make your staff more comfortable with each other is to encourage social interactions that are fun and lighthearted.

You could take the pressure off with some work-friendly icebreaker games. They’ll lower defenses, boost camaraderie, challenge people’s assumptions, and, most importantly, make people laugh. Icebreaker games aren’t just for new teams either. You can play them weekly or monthly to shake things up a bit.

Encourage them to sync up weekly or bi-weekly to play games, have a happy hour, or work on a project that’s not related to work. Take it a step further and encourage meetings without leadership so they can get to know each other without the pressure of a boss in the room.

2. Make Room For Anonymous Feedback

Too often, a lack of communication in the workplace comes from fear. People are afraid to ruffle feathers, look stupid, or come off as incompetent or uneducated.

Sharing your feelings, thoughts, and ideas takes courage, and sometimes the best way to break through communication barriers is to implement an anonymous feedback loop. To kickstart such a feedback loop, try creating and sharing an anonymous survey so people can share their opinions free of judgment.

It’ll also prevent groupthink, which is the practice of making decisions that discourage individual responsibility or creativity. The last thing you want is a team that follows the crowd and doesn’t take a stand when they believe in something. Plus, deploying a system will give you excellent feedback you can use to better your workplace and clear up misunderstandings.

3. Create Both Formal & Informal Communication Channels

The best way to get people talking is to give them a platform. Let them know exactly when and how you’ll solicit their feedback. Tell them ahead of time when you’ll expect feedback from them and on what topics. That extra time to prepare can quell anxiety and give them the opportunity to give thoughtful feedback.

Take it a step further with your new hires and clearly discuss during the onboarding process what communication channels and tools exist, and go over their intended uses.

Maybe your organization uses email internally for project updates and instant messaging for the daily back-and-forth. It would be helpful for them to know that up front in case their previous employer was a heavy email user.

It’s also highly advisable to get into a regular cadence of one-on-one meetings between leaders and staff. That ongoing conversation keeps things light and prevents problems or misunderstandings from piling up.

Beyond a weekly pulse check, try implementing an “open door” policy and make it known throughout the company. It’s not a huge step by any means, but it does make leaders feel more approachable, which is essential to improving communication in the workplace.

4. Learn From Your Mistakes

Exit interviews are a great way to identify your company’s shortcomings and how you can make improvements to encourage retention in the future. It may be too late to save the employees heading out the door, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it better for the rest of your staff.

For example, if you discouraged socialization in the past, then perhaps it’s time to turn over a new leaf. Refrain from chastising any mingling and socializing during work hours. Open up to the fact that we’re social creatures with social needs and desires.

Plus, it’s important to let employees take mental breaks for off-topic conversation. It boosts morale and takes the edge off of the tough days.

Some companies have gone so far as conducting “stay interviews” where you have one-on-one meetings between leaders and employees to figure out what you’re doing right and what areas you can improve upon.

5. Deploy The Right Software

It’s not enough to build a culture that values communication. You have to make it easy for your team to communicate effectively. One such way is by deploying employee-centric software like ZoomShift. At its core, ZoomShift is employee scheduling software that helps streamline your employee scheduling process, but beyond the surface, it’s a robust communication tool.

ZoomShift keeps everyone on the same page with event scheduling, direct messaging, and group chats. It also automates many facets of day-to-day communication, like reminding people of upcoming shifts, schedule changes, and shift cover requests.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to improving communication in the workplace, there are plenty of ways to turn the tides in your favor. If you clearly communicate your desire to improve communication in the workplace, learn from your mistakes, and deploy the right policies and software, then you’re on the right track.

6. Explain “Why” Along With the “What”

Here are the two ways a manager might ask for a report:

The first way—the manager goes, “I need this report by tomorrow.” Straight to the point, you might think? But it’s missing something important.

Now, imagine this instead. The manager says, “Hey, I need this report by tomorrow because it’s going to give us plenty of time to check it over and tweak anything before our big presentation on Friday. Getting it done early means we can dodge any last-minute panic and make sure our presentation knocks it out of the park.”

You can clearly see how explaining the “why” behind a task can instantly improve communication.

7. Choose the Right Channels

Having multiple communication channels is important, but it is equally important to choose the right one for each message. Not all messages need to be shared over email or during a team meeting.

For example, if you’ve got something urgent, bypass the email and send a WhatsApp or Slack message instead. Need to hash out details? A video call or a quick Loom recording might beat an endless email thread.

At the same time, don’t forget to consider the preferences of your team members. Some may prefer face-to-face communication, while others may be more comfortable with written communication.

8. Encourage Active Listening

Communication is a two-way street—it’s not just about speaking. You want to encourage your team members to actively listen too. This can be done by paying attention to what others are saying without interrupting. Or thinking about their response before replying to them. You also want to ask clarifying questions and respond with empathy.

Active listening promotes a culture of understanding and respect, leading to better communication and stronger relationships among team members.

9. Use Visuals

Visuals break down complex information into digestible and memorable pieces, improving communication. They help you convey a message quickly and clearly, reducing the potential for misunderstandings (especially when you have a remote team).

Consider using charts, graphs, or diagrams to illustrate important points during presentations or meetings.

There are plenty of online tools available that can help you with visual communication. Miro, Lucidchart, and Canva are just a few examples.

10. Assign a Point Person

A point person is responsible for communicating updates, deadlines, and any changes throughout a project. Having one designated point of contact prevents confusion and miscommunication among team members.

The contact also serves as a central source of information for anyone who has questions or needs clarification. They also prevent information from getting lost in translation. This is especially important for larger teams or organizations with multiple departments working on different tasks.

11. Get on Board With an Excellent Communication Tool

Effective communication in the workplace today is nearly impossible without the right team communication tool.

Consider ZoomShift for example. The tool lets you easily schedule team meetings, share important updates and documents, and facilitate real-time communication through direct messaging and group chats. It also offers integrations with popular tools like Google Calendar and Slack for seamless communication across platforms.

ZoomShift’s centralized dashboard makes it easy to stay organized and keep track of all communication within your team. Plus, its automated features like shift reminders and schedule change notifications reduce the need for manual communication.

Take the first step now with a 14-day free trial of ZoomShift.

JD Spinoza

JD enjoys teaching people how to use ZoomShift to save time spent on scheduling. He’s curious, likes learning new things everyday and playing the guitar (although it’s a work in progress).