Effective communication is imperative for your business to reach its objectives. Whether you’re interacting with managers, staff colleagues, in a team, or with customers, communication is the lifeblood in increasing productivity and efficiency within the workplace.
“If you just communicate, you can get by, but if you communicate skilfully, you can work miracles”
– Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur, and author.
Verbal communication is often the easiest and most-used form of interaction, but words shouldn’t be the only means of communication in the workplace. With 85% of staff colleagues using more than one device to communicate at work, 44% want a wider adoption of internal communication tools.
With this in mind, we take a look at the four most common types of communication in the workplace, then offer ways you can enhance these to drive morale within your team, increase productivity, and ultimately improve your customers’ experience.
4 types of communication in the workplace
1. Verbal (in person) communication
Verbal communication isn’t limited to the words we use; everything from your tone of voice to body language amounts to 93% of in-person communication. While the credibility of these now famous findings remains questionable, it raises an important aspect of verbal communication in the workplace: it’s not just what you say but how you say it that counts.
In today’s world, there is a large diversity of individuals that make up the standard workforce. Staff colleagues from different cultures, and of different ages means it’s important your business strives to create a basic foundation for verbal communication so that everyone understands each other.
2. Written communication
Every day, 205.6 billion emails are sent across the globe, with 74% of all online adults preferring email as their main method of commercial communication. Email is a reasonable alternative to verbal communication, providing a paper trail that the reader can refer back to as needed.
The same can be said for the use of social media within the workplace. In fact, 49% of millennials support social tools for workplace collaboration. There are a vast amount of apps and tools that your business can use to improve communication between your staff colleagues, management, and even your customers. The beauty of these being that everyone in your workplace can access the messages, from any location, at any time.
3. Telephone communication
As a preference, this communication method has somewhat lessened in recent years, with companies opting for the more modern-day communicative platforms. However, where there’s demand, telephone communication remains a vital tool for interacting with staff colleagues.
For some, speaking over the phone can be a daunting prospect that is put off until the last minute, whilst for others, it comes naturally and can be found to be more efficient than a barrage of emails. Context has a big part to play here: if you need an immediate response, it’s often much more practical to pick up the phone, compared to less urgent communications, which could be sent over email and replied to hours or days later.
4. Visual communication
It’s estimated that 65% of people are what we call ‘visual learners’, meaning that they’re able to retain information better when it’s presented visually rather than through text. Sharing business ideas, providing information to staff colleagues, or outlining specific points that need to be emphasised to ensure success are just a few of the reasons why businesses resort to visual communication.
Some examples of visual communication include training and educational videos, organisational charts, documents, and presentations. Whereas these take a little more time to create rather than words, staff colleagues are more likely to interact and absorb the information than with blocks of written text.
In addition, having visual communication available to all staff colleagues means they can refer back to it at any time for training or refresh purposes.
How you can enhance communication in the workplace
Can you confidently say your workplace has the most appropriate communication channels set up? You may not be aware, but there are further ways you can enhance these types of communication so everyone in your business can benefit, depending on your business type, environment, and unique communication requirements.
Implementing innovative technology solutions
One way that tier 1 retailers are enhancing their verbal, written, and telephone communication is through the implementation of innovative technology solutions.
Advancements in communication technology have led to the development of lightweight, wireless headsets that enable staff colleagues to communicate with each other within seconds from any location, at any time, with just a touch of a button. For example, if a customer has asked a cashier about a price query, they’d simply communicate with a store floor worker through the headset, rather than having to leave the checkout unattended and walk around the store. This not only promotes productivity but reduces the need for using the old loudspeaker system that echoes around the whole store (a well-known customer pain point).
The headsets are also a safety reassurance to staff colleagues working alone on store floor at night, as they know they can contact a fellow worker immediately if a problem arises.
Making the most of social media tools
As many as 72% of workplaces use social media to communicate, but are they using it to its full advantage? A study shows that if these companies did, their staff colleagues’ productivity would increase by as much as 25%. Rather than messaging staff colleagues individually, why not create separate channels or groups for departments to help interact and set up meetings, discuss issues, and generally build a better rapport with each other. You can even sync meeting arrangements to your calendar on apps like Messenger.
Other tools like GoWall can improve the way you manage your meetings, allowing attendees to create notes for various topics that are discussed, commented on, or liked, to increase engagement and quality insights. Features like online chat and office opinion polls mean even more introverted staff colleagues can join in.
In retail environments, smartphone and tablet applications have been implemented to alert staff colleagues to any urgent information around the store. For example, if the store freezer has suddenly risen to a higher temperature, a real-time event alert will appear on employee smartphones so they can address the issue efficiently, reducing any safety risks and harm to products.
Create visual aids and save time doing it
It may take a little longer to transform informative text into eye-catching visual aids, but there are tools to help you speed up the task. Organimi uses a simple drag-and-drop interface that works alongside any .CSV file so you can easily import your work base into an organisational chart from an already created spreadsheet.
PowerPoint is also a vital source for meetings and conferences, so spending just a few minutes brushing up on what the software has to offer can go a long way towards productivity. From transitions to animations, sounds to shapes, there are so many ways you can adapt your presentation from dull, text-heavy slides to a swoosh and swirl of visual magic.
Taking the time to make some quick visual aids will not only help your meeting attendees to retain more information but keep their attention as well.
Consider [optional] one-to-one meetings
To improve the relationship between you and staff colleagues, consider booking in weekly or monthly one-to-ones with each of your team members so that you can go through any issues, progress towards KPIs, or any other general conversation, even about troubles outside of work. Not everyone is comfortable talking and sharing information in a group, so offering support in a typical conversation surrounding can put staff colleagues at ease and allow them to express their feelings more freely.
By making these meetings optional, staff colleagues can decide – with little pressure – whether they’re ready to share any issues, eventually building trust and a better understanding of individual needs.
Enhancing communication will provide better results
Without consistent and effective communication in the workplace, your business simply cannot function. If communication within your team has been problematic, try adopting some of our improved methods and use your good judgement to see if they work and how else you can enhance these further.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to communicate and it will always be a work in progress between you and your staff colleagues, but playing to each individual’s strengths will see you reap the benefits in their productivity and efficiency.
Interested to see how one of the UK’s leading home improvement retailers improved their communication in the workplace? Click on the case study below.