The Cost of Inefficient Communication — and How HR Tech Can Help

Business success can be attributed, in large part, to effective communication, collaboration, and teamwork. Conversely, miscommunication and inefficient dialogue can result in a great many failures which can cost your company dearly. We’ll soon see the financial impact of poor communication, the real-world effects that poor communication can cause, and we’ll cover how businesses are making use of HR technology to turn things around.

A 2017 study carried out by Mitel explored inadequate enterprise communication in North America and Europe. It discovered that the yearly impact of ineffective communication resulted in an average cost of $11,000 per employee per year. Using this research, we can see that a company of 500 employees could expect a $5.5 million setback annually, all as a direct result of miscommunication. This study follows the revelation that 70% of business mistakes are due to poor communication.

So how does inefficient communication end up costing us so much money? Miscommunication can cause stress and frustration, poor decision making, legal disputes, reduced productivity, mistrust, absenteeism, high turnover, low morale, and reduced innovation. Clearly, this is an area of concern, and we need to inspect our existing methods of communication to see how we can leverage technology and save ourselves millions of dollars.

Below, we will explore specific scenarios that can cause communication breakdown within a company, and how modern HR technology, as well as a shift in our leadership and management styles and performance management systems, can step into facilitate and streamline communication throughout an organization.

An over reliance on email can slow down discussions

Over 100 billion business emails are sent each day. That’s a lot of information and data to process, and strangely, the fact that emails are so quick and easy to create and send leads to a lot of communication breakdown. They are easily dismissed, accidentally deleted, or lost in a sea of endless incoming messages that the receiver never really gets the opportunity to sort through.

Emails are also responsible for a lot of wasted time at work, which creates a productivity block. According to one source, US workers spend 6.3 hours a day checking emails. Is all this time strictly necessary and beneficial?

A lot of companies are replacing workplace emails with team collaboration tools, which are bringing employees together and expediting progress and performance. Such collaboration tools allow messages to be sent instantly and stored centrally in an easily searchable archive. They also allow conversations to be conducted by two or more employees, which keeps everyone in the loop. On top of that, they provide an opportunity to schedule reminders and tasks, which helps keep everyone on track.

A famously popular collaboration software is Slack, which is so intuitive and useful it has been said to be “killing email”. Slack users spend an average of 10 hours each workday on the app, demonstrating how easily integratable it is into the average workplace.

Vague instructions inevitably cause miscommunication

One serious miscommunication issue is the delivery of non-existent deadlines and vague instructions. An employee might often be told to get something sorted “as soon as possible”, but this term in itself is subjective. Due to this form of miscommunication, one survey found that employees waste an average of 40 minutes per day.

When instructions and deadlines are given, they need to be clear, specific, and understood. To streamline tasks, companies often make use of tools such as Teamwork: a platform that allows managers to set tasks, create step-by-step instructions, allocate time to be spent on a specific task, and give strict deadlines. Employees then have a firm idea of what is to be done, and they are able to better manage their workload.

A lack of timely feedback can impair performance

Real-time feedback is becoming a huge issue for organizations around the world. Employees have come to expect it during business hours as they do in their private lives, and real-time feedback comes with a whole host of benefits.

It can result in improved workplace relationships, heightened employee engagement, increased retention, and improved productivity. Without this efficient form of communication, employees can remain in the dark for long periods of time, and their work can suffer as a result.

According to recent reports, only 19% of millennials receive routine feedback from their managers, likely due to the fact that managers aren’t able to deliver this feedback instantly and conveniently. Thankfully, HR technology in the form of performance review software has resolved this issue. It allows companies to elicit and provide in-the-moment feedback, meaning employees can get answers promptly and return to their work confident and able to perform productively.

Uncertainty regarding SMART objectives is a recipe for disaster

Incredibly, only approximately 50% of employees strongly agree that they know what they are doing at work, and they know what is expected of them. This truly is at the heart of why miscommunication is such an issue in businesses. How are employees supposed to meet and surpass given objectives if they don’t know exactly what their objectives are? Confusion in this area is a recipe for disaster and results in stress, frustration, and a lack of motivation.

This is another area that HR technology can facilitate. Companies can use HR software to collaborate on SMART objectives, and this same software will allow employees, manager, and HR to track goal progression. Such an approach to objective setting also allows them to be regularly updated and adapted as needed, resulting in a more agile and dynamic business.

Employees feel superfluous when you don’t discuss wider company goals

Every member of your team should feel that they are a valued member of the organization. They need to feel listened to, respected, and informed. An atmosphere of transparency with regards to communication will do a lot to ensure no employee feels superfluous. Keep employees informed and updated on company goals, direction, and progress. Let them know about any pressing concerns and issues. They deserve to know the ins and outs of their workplace.

Many companies are choosing to replace annual appraisals with regular one-on-ones, where performance discussions take place and feedback is exchanged. This is a great way of providing your employees with company context, which will help them make relevant decisions with regards to their performance and objectives. In fact, regular performance discussions have been named the number one performance management tool for this reason. Performance management software can help managers and employees schedule and adhere to these monthly check-ins.

All that’s required to enhance internal communication both vertically and horizontally is a determination to improve and an understanding that companies excel when they make use of relevant modern technology. What’s more, technology is now bridging the gap between SMEs and larger, international conglomerates, so embracing them will open you up to greater levels of success and ensure you remain competitive for years to come.

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