Five Symptoms of an Internal Communications Problem

Meghan LeVota
Feb 22, 2018 · 4 min read

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Good internal communication is often the glue that holds an entire organization together.

And without that glue, things can get a little messy around the office. For example, if tasks and expectations aren’t communicated clearly, you might find your employees running around like chickens with their heads cut off instead of working.

Better communication between employees can fix this. But, for those of you who already have a consistent strategy in practice, how do you know whether or not what you’re doing is working?

Regardless, there’s a good chance your communication strategy has room for improvement. In fact, the majority of organizations spend significantly more time and money on external communications — leaving internal communications as an afterthought.

Below are five symptoms that might indicate that your company has a communication problem:

Lack of engagement in company events, volunteer and employee challenges

Company events and activities make employees feel connected to one another. They can help organizations operate as a cohesive team, rather than individual cogs in a machine.

Ask yourself, how many employees showed up to your latest Holiday party? How many chose to participate in the recent company-wide wellness challenge, or volunteered at your organization’s annual food drive?

Low levels of engagement in such events might indicate that your employees didn’t resonate with or receive the message. Did you send the information out via email and text message? Or, was word of mouth the main driver of engagement? Audit your communication channels to ensure everyone is informed.

Perhaps your delivery is to blame. If your email announcement used a drab font, zero visuals and too much industry jargon, some employees might have exited out of the message immediately.

It’s also important to clearly connect the company mission with the reason why the employee event is being hosted.

Next time a company event or challenge comes around, pay attention to the employee engagement rate. Remember that planning such affairs takes time, so it’s important to be intentional about achieving a successful outcome.

Low enrollment rate of benefits

In addition to a paycheck, companies compensate their team members in other ways — such as discounts, perks and benefits that keep them happy and healthy.

If it’s offered, why wouldn’t 100 percent of eligible employees properly participate in company programs?

You’ve guessed it. The biggest reason for this is poor communication. Many people are unaware of what exactly their benefits package consists of.

If team members don’t know which benefits options are available, they won’t be taking advantage of them fully (which could mean wasted money on an organizational level.)

Benefits can be a daunting task for some to comprehend, so it’s important that benefits information is easy to access. Whether it be found on a static webpage or an employee app, there ought to be a “go-to spot.”

Also, not everyone reads the fine print. Make sure you are communicating lesser known benefits information in a dynamic, eye-catching manner.

Costly errors

If employees have been making mistakes more frequently, it might be a sign that they lack clear direction and expectations from management.

These errors can be reduced with a streamlined internal communications workflow. Perhaps your organization should swap out its outdated communication tool in favor of technology that’s more user-friendly?

For example in one case, a miscommunication in New Jersey led to a loss of $200 million to the state budget. Yikes.

Remember, mistakes happen less when everyone is on the same page.

Retention issues

If your business has a high turnover rate, it’s possible that your internal communications strategy is not as cohesive as desired. People leave companies when they feel insignificant, confused and taken for granted.

Good internal communication connects employees to the company’s greater purpose — which a Gallup study says the majority of employers want.

Ask yourself, when was the last time C-Suite shared the “why” behind their decision? And was the average employee notified when the media mentioned your organization?

Sharing “high level” information such as this is integral for invoking camaraderie and purpose in teams.

Low productivity

Lastly, an organization’s overall productivity level will be affected by the strength of its internal communication.

For teams where energy and results have taken a dip, take a look at what kind of messaging they’ve been receiving lately from higher-ups. Low productivity rates have been linked to poor company communication and employee disengagement.

It’s a leader’s job to motivate and communicate with the entire team. Clear communication is motivating, comprehensive and will propel employees to give their absolute best.

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