Channels of Communication

It is widely agreed that communicating effectively with your employees will bring numerous positive benefits to your business including greater productivity, collaboration, innovation, staff morale and retention. Knowing that and actually implementing it though are two very different things and it is vital for a business to understand their staff, their preferences and the most appropriate methods of communicating with staff in order to maximise the impact, clarity and consistency of their messaging.

Before sending out communications to staff it is a good idea to actually start at the end and consider what you want people to know and how you want them to think, feel or act as a consequence of the message? That will then inform your decisions about the style, tone and channel of communication that you are going to use.

So, what channels might you consider using?

Email/WhatsApp/Teams

These channels of communication are best used when the message you want to communicate is short, to the point and requires little or no discussion or feedback. You might use these channels for a quick team update or to get a message out to a large audience so that everyone gets the information at the same time. It is important though to check how the message is worded as tone can be difficult to interpret at times in such communication, avoid the common pitfalls of highlighting words in bold, using capital letters or changing the colour of words for emphasis as this can come across like you are SHOUTING! You also need to bear in mind that some staff might not have easy access to technology in order to read and act on messages sent in this way and so you might want to think about alternative ways of getting such communications to them.

Online Meetings

Along with many other changes, the Covid pandemic changed the way we carried out work meetings and introduced us to Zoom and Teams. For some, meeting in this manner has now become the norm, for others these meetings and the habitual cry of, “you’re on mute!”, is now a thing of the past, while hybrid working has created an environment that makes the most of the two. Online meetings are a great way to bring a small or large audience together quickly and easily in order to communicate. They allow for flexibility, they’re great for dispersed teams, you can easily record them and share them with staff who might be unable to attend for whatever reason so that they don’t miss out and they save time and money on staff travelling to a physical venue. Interaction in such meetings though can be difficult despite the hand up feature or the use of the chat facility and even though the meeting host can be seen and heard it can feel like there is a loss of a personal connection, some people attending the meeting will either not have a camera or won’t want to be on camera and that too leads to a disconnect. If you are delivering a top down message or presentation to share general information then online meetings can work for you but if the message is perhaps sensitive or contentious it might be preferable to meet with staff in a more traditional way.

In Person Meetings

Face-to-face meetings with individuals or groups of staff can be used to communicate all sorts of messages and are an excellent way to share information, consult, have open and honest dialogue and gather instant feedback. Many people value the opportunity to meet in person, you get a true sense of communicating fully as you are able to see someone’s body language and their response to your message. You might use one to one meetings, team meetings, or staff forums to share messages in person and gather any feedback needed. In person meetings also don’t have the risk of your internet connection dropping out and are good for staff who might not have easy access to technology or who might struggle to use it for a particular reason.

There are many other channels of communicating with staff. Some organisations will have an intranet and will share messages either in writing or via video using their intranet. Others will pin up a notice on a board in a communal area and in some instances an employer might even use their social media output to communicate with staff.

Whatever channel, or channels, employers use it is crucial to remember some key points:

  • Use a range of tools and channels to suit the audience and your business and make sure that the ways in which you communicate don’t exclude any staff
  • Think about the message and how you would like it to be received and acted on
  • Ensure that staff have a voice and that communication is not just a one way street
  • Build trust and engagement through regular and consistent communication
  • Review how you communicate, get feedback from staff and don’t be scared to try something different

Do you have questions about communication?

Give us a call at CUBE HR on 01282 678321, we’ll be happy to advise you and we have policies and templates available to meet every HR need.

Why not check out our blog on a similar topic The Importance Of Communicating With Employees.

We also have a YouTube channel with loads of handy videos.