There are now more opportunities for entrepreneurs to start up their businesses. As a result, the number of people who decide to run a small business is growing. According to the UK Small Business Statistics by FSB, there are 5.6 million small businesses with total employment of 16.3 million. In other words, small businesses are a big sector of the economy.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that almost every small business owner aims at growing revenue. However, it’s nearly impossible to run a successful company without employees. All people are different, and we have different vital skills for business growth. Simply put, being an all-in-one small business owner is nearly impossible. Moreover, as specified in the Bureau of Labour Statistics, 80% of small businesses with employees survive their first year in business. Thus, having a winning team is a must.
However, hiring new employees is the top challenge for around 50% of small business owners, according to the State of Small Business Report. Why? It’s hard to find qualified talents, the cost of hiring employees is growing rapidly, and niche competition is high. But once small business owners have found a perfect candidate, it’s important to reduce employee turnover.
Simply put, effective employee communication plays a key role in small business growth. To achieve business goals, business owners and managers guide their employees, so it’s important to discuss exceptions, share information and ideas, and listen to your workers. In short, communication matters. Effective employee communication means sending and receiving messages accurately and keeping your employees well-informed. Plus, it also means working in a positive workplace environment.
Communication is key to understanding what motivates employees when it comes to the workplace. Thus, effective employee communication should be a priority. Moreover, managers feel uncomfortable communicating with employees:
- 69% would like to avoid communicating in general
- 37% of them don’t want to give direct feedback
- 20% of managers find it hard to recognise employee achievements.
Case in point:
The UK branch of the multinational insurance firm AXA had a drop in employee engagement after some changes in the company’s business structure. With a big divide between managers and staff members, employees were demotivated at work.
To make workers feel valued, the company held an employee-centred event aimed at telling employees more about the business structure changes with conversations and games. The company also sent ‘you complete me’ cards to the staff members. This generated the following results: 91% of workers felt that the company paid attention to the feedback and 82% of them agreed that the session was engaging.
But as a small business owner, it’s more likely you have no experience with talent management. In these circumstances, it’s important to know effective employee communication tips that can help understand your workers better and avoid misunderstandings with employees.
5 Effective Employee Communication Tips to Know
Effective employee communication plays a key role in business growth. As Karen Kennedy, the founder of Insights To Growth, once said: “Most companies underestimate the value of a communications plan and think that they are communicating “enough.” Rarely is this the case; employees want to be included in the company’s journey, and being well informed is a large part of that journey.”
Effective communication helps to foster a good working relationship between you and your staff. It’s important to implement communication methods that work well for your team when you’re just starting out. Here are five actionable tips every SMBs should know to create effective employee communication in the workplace:
1. Know your employees
Your staff is your greatest asset. It’s extremely important to know your employees well so that you can understand their needs and they can learn about the expectations of the organisation. Plus, knowing your employees, you can focus on communication methods that work best for them.
In the last five years, preferred communication channels have changed. While cyber chatting and texting are gaining in popularity, some workers still want to get face-to-face feedback as it fosters a level of intimacy and engagement. However, there’s no better way to give your employees what they want than ask them directly. Here are some actionable ways on how to understand your employees better:
- Communicate regularly: For example, it’s a good idea to plan communication sessions in advance. You can create a calendar with regular dates for a group and individual meetings to discuss your plans, achievements, etc. The main idea is to give your employees a chance to express their thoughts and be heard.
- Survey your employee base: Effective communication is about mutual understanding. Thus, you need to ask your employees directly. Whether you send surveys or questionnaires, it’s important to collect employees’ feedback, analyse it, and therefore understand them better. What is more, you can include open-ended questions that encourage employees to share new ideas.
- Organise workshops: Over the last few years, the idea of hosting office workshops has gained in popularity. More often than not, workshops help to increase employees’ engagement and reduce turnover. What is more, most workshops include brainstorming sessions which means a great opportunity to collect employees’ feedback effectively.
Knowing your employees also helps to eliminate misunderstandings and keep a focus on motivating your staff. For example, if you know that your employees need more capacity building, you can give them access to online courses, apps, and niche webinars.
This can be cheap, given that eLearning is on the rise. After all, it’s in our nature to be focused on our needs and wants, so you can create effective communication if you put your employees first.
2. Value employees’ time
Having a positive workplace environment is crucial for keeping your employees satisfied. No matter how much people love what they do, they need to spend time with their dearest and nearest to avoid burning out and stay motivated.
It’s important to help your workers keep a work-life balance. When it comes to communication within the organisation, you also need to take into account how much time your employees waste at work. After all, spending the whole day in the office doesn’t mean working productively.
As specified in one report by Atlassian, attending meetings and reading excessive emails are often ways to waste time at work. Plus, it is difficult for employees to get back to work after being distracted, so small and medium business owners should do their best to value employees’ time.
It seems people waste a lot of time at work. Since most small business owners are always on the go and their employees also want to use time wisely, there’s a shift in communication methods, too.
The days when face-to-face communication was the only effective social interaction are far behind us. With the growing popularity of modern gadgets, communication expectations have changed.
Today, people use chats, video conferences, social media, etc. for discussing business ideas in real-time without meeting face-to-face. No matter where you are, it’s easy to call your employees, send a fax from your phone, or reply to emails. All in all, using these communication strategies helps to conduct productive meetings that save employees’ time and nerves.
When you value your employees’ time, you make them feel valued, and you also start working more productively. All in all, it gives brilliant business results that lead to business growth.
3. Set tasks and prioritise
As a business owner, you must be a leader who helps employees achieve their goals. It’s important to go the extra mile and set tasks for your employees who may lack experience in time management. The ability to delegate will help guide your employees and their workflow. If you can delegate effectively, you can increase the amount of work accomplished in the same period of time.
Moreover, you know your employees’ strengths, so it’s easier for you to delegate and assign tasks that suit their area of expertise. For example, if one employee has design skills, you can ask him or her to prepare a presentation for your product launch.
Not only can the ability to delegate help employees to feel valued, but it also can help them to spend their time wisely. Setting tasks is not just about dividing the team’s workload; it’s also about communicating the task, determining standards, and providing support. All in all, it helps employees understand the working process better, and therefore achieve their goals faster.
When you show that you take care of your employees, you invest in long-term relationships. This trust is the building block for effective employee communication.
4. Provide feedback
To improve team members’ interaction and teamwork results, small business owners need to create a clear and honest two-way communication flow. Sharing feedback is crucial.
Understanding business goals isn’t enough to achieve them. It’s also important to discuss employee performance to make sure the worker delivers KPIs. Moreover, feedback helps employees to make better decisions, which can improve performance.
Believe it or not, it also helps to improve employee experience, which means loyal workers. 57% of people prefer corrective feedback to purely praise and recognition, and workers are open to constructive feedback.
It’s no surprise that most people work for small businesses to gain experience. Three-quarters of the UK’s small business workforce claim personal development is an important element of career progression.
Employees want to receive feedback on their job performance as it helps them understand which skills to improve and what knowledge to obtain. While it can be daunting for small business owners to provide feedback, it’s an important element of effective communication that leads to positive business results.
If it’s difficult for you to give feedback face-to-face, you can send an email. Regardless of which method you use, it is important to relay what they are doing right and what can be improved. The main idea is, to be honest, and open a dialogue that leads to mutual understanding between managers and employees.
5. Learn from each other
Effective employee communication is about a dialogue, not a monologue. If you want to make the most out of communication with your workers, you need to listen to them.
Union Pacific is a great example of a company that cares about effective employee communication. The company has around 50,000 employees. It’s crucial for Union Pacific to organise an effective exchange of ideas.
In 2008 the company launched a stewardship suggestion process. Within six years, around 1,800 workers had generated more than 3,200 suggestions. For example, employees encouraged the company to go green in the office and became more eco-conscious.
This initiative helped empower employees. Moreover, it increased employee satisfaction which enabled them to attract more talents.
When it comes to small and medium businesses, it’s no wonder that risks of failure are higher. Since most employees crave stability, they must also be interested in bringing your business to the next level.
If you want to bring your business to the next level, you need to make sure your team runs smoothly, and your employees are motivated. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for all small businesses, every employee craves honest and open communication in the workplace.
It’s important to find out effective employee communication methods that work best for your team. The best way to build a strong team culture is to create a company culture that fosters effective employee communication. Speak to your employees. They are your primary source of information about problems in the workplace.
Hugh Beaulac is a digital marketer who runs MC2 blog. He is a guest author, content manager, and freelance social media marketer. With over 6 years of digital marketing experience, Hugh has worked with many small- and medium-sized brands to help them achieve business growth.
Originally published Nov 13, 2019, updated Jan 16, 2023