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PHOTO: CloudVisual

One in three US workers are ready to quit their jobs because of poor workplace communication, according to recent research from San Bruno, Calif.-based Dynamic Signal. The research also found employees feel less informed, more anxious and more confused about how to do their jobs because of poor, or mismanaged, workplace communication.

Identifying Digital Workplace Communications Problems

Leaving aside the fact that Dynamic Signal develops mobile communication solutions for the workforce, the sheer number of tools in the current digital workplace is creating confusion as companies struggling to streamline the number of tools to keep employees productive. However, it appears to be an uphill battle. Other findings from the Crumbling State Of Employee Communication report included:

  • 75 percent of employees report wasting time to keep up with the constant dings, pings, chats and more.
  • 66 percent report losing between 30 minutes and 1 hour every day from pressure to keep up, costing over three billion dollars in annual profits from wasted time alone.
  • 42 percent report missing critical information necessary to do their job caused by ineffective communication tools.

However, the report also found enterprise leadership is aware of the problem, with 99 percent of C-suite executives ranking workforce alignment and engagement as a critical business goal.

Impact Of Poor Workplace Engagement

Research for the report was carried out by independent market research company Survata and consisted of a study across three different groups: employees (1,072 respondents), corporate communication professionals (311 respondents) and members of the C-suite (108 respondents) between February 16 and February 20 this year.

“The impacts of poor communication and engagement are very serious. The first highly visible impact is that employee turnover or churn is often driven by a lack of connection to the company and a belief in the value of the company’s purpose all addressed by effective employee communication and engagement,” said Joelle Kaufman, CMO at Dynamic Signal.

The second major impact, she said, is that the companies with poorer employee communication and engagement have poorer performing employees — people who are not delivering the value they could deliver to the organization. Gartner’s CEB Internal Communications Council collected research spanning over 3000 companies that showed well-informed and engaged employees are 77 percent more likely to be high performing employees. “With people being the largest expense of any organization, its unacceptable to undermine their ability to succeed through poor, disjointed and hard to access communication,” she added.

While there are many other impacts, she points out that companies with strong employee communication and engagement overwhelmingly outperform others in earnings per share. “There is no strategy ever created that didn’t depend on the workforce understanding that strategy, identifying their role in executing that strategy and being recognized for their contribution to the company’s success,” she added.  If there is a lack of engagement in the digital workplace, what can business leaders do?

1. Use Social Networks

Alexis Davis is founder and CEO of HK Productions, a digital media company based in New York City. She said employees may find it difficult to engage in the digital workplace if there is a lack of human-employee interaction. “Your remote team needs to feel connected, heard and find it easy to communicate with team members. Once a month chats or virtual meetings won't cut it,” she said.

Using online platforms such as Slack (a digital headquarters) or even Teamweek (a project management tool) helps keep the lines of communication open. “Working from home has its many benefits but if there is minimal interaction it can be a challenge to feel connected. However, the solution is simple: connectivity and communication within a great team. It's all about making the digital workplace work for you,” Davis said.

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2. Encourage Meetings

Human contact is essential. An office is not just a place of work activity, it's also a place of social engagement. Being part of a company, effectively a group of individuals united by common goals, is important to many people. However, if you feel or are working without human contact or interaction, the feeling of being part of a group is lost. Emails and text messages don't provide the same connection or level of interactivity as in-person meetings, according to Marc Prosser, co-founder of New York-based FitSmallBusiness, a consultancy advising small businesses on how to succeed.

“Make sure everyone has at least one meeting they participate in every day. At FitSmallBusiness, we have lots of remote workers. We have these meeting by video which is a very different experience than communication by email or text. It's very close to the in-person experience and allow people to get know each other,” he said.

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3. Explain Why Systems Help Employees

Jon Brodsky oversees U.S. operations for New York City-based Finder, an independent comparison platform and information service. He said one of the major reasons employees fail to engage in digital workplaces is they don’t understand why a system is in place.

“Too often we focus on the ‘what’ and not the ‘why.' Being clear about the reasoning for each program and why it has been put in place is key — maybe explaining that a given program will increase efficiency, or that it provides a cost-effective solution, or that its better at enabling cross-team collaboration. All these can have a positive impact on engagement,” he said.

He added that often, employees do not understand why they are using specific systems and what benefits these systems bring to them. “Employers can counteract this by highlighting elements of the digital workplace that provide a direct benefit from making their job easier, faster,” he said.

Related Article: Your Best Defense Against Organizational Silos Is Communication

4. Use Digital Platforms

Key to encouraging and developing digital workplace engagement in the workplace is effective use of digital platforms. “We are believers in the digital office — not to the point of being paperless — but that tools and technology can help companies focus on their main competence. However, this means that a focus needs to be placed on people too,” said Karen Lachtanski, director of global corporate communications at Grapevine, Texas-based Y Soft, which builds and develops and sells an enterprise print and workflow management platform

She adds that to pull all this together, enterprises need to create programs that encourage employees to explore new career paths, that provide the skills they'll need as well as mentors to explain how these skills and jobs apply to the company’s future.

“Many companies are focused on digital processes for customer-facing projects, forgetting that their own employees also want to be more efficient and work on their job competency instead of the administrative work that goes along with it. When the latter is too cumbersome, people will look elsewhere,” she said.

5. Provide Digital Platform Training

Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and digital marketing expert of online coupon provider DontPayFull. He believes the key to promoting these platforms in the enterprise is training. “People can be found everywhere who strongly believe that 'Old is Gold.' There are a number of companies where management has installed state-of-the-art digital workplace systems, but some employees are not quite convinced to use them due to their tendency to resist any change,” he said.

Any company experiencing this issue after deploying digital workplace systems, he said, must arrange training sessions for their employees to let them know the benefits of using digital workplace systems.

Related Article: How to Start Improving Digital Literacy in Your Workplace

6. Implement Single Tool Sets

One other issue that needs addressing is related to the creation of a single set of tools. In some organizations, different set of employees or different departments can select different apps or tools to use. But in most cases, these tools are incompatible with each other. This leads to interrupted or malfunctioned communication between the employees. “To avoid these circumstances, companies should install a company-wide intranet and common apps or tools that provide flawless connection for everyone to ensure every business processes,” Vasilescu added.