Good communication is key to workplace happiness. Having a team who are able to communicate freely, both on a personal and professional level, makes for better collaboration, productivity and a generally happier office vibe.
Here are 5 ways to improve communication in your workplace to make your team happier.
1. Give regular, actionable feedback
Without regular feedback, your team can be left feeling confused, deflated and unsure about where they’re going.
Any negative feedback for areas of improvement should be actionable. There is no point in telling an employee that their work isn’t good enough without explaining what they need to do to improve. Show your team you respect them by keeping negative feedback private instead of humiliating them in front of their colleagues.
Don’t just get caught up with negative feedback. Make sure you congratulate your team when they go the extra mile and that they always feel appreciated and valued. Author of Be a Shortcut, Scott Halford thinks you should give as much positive feedback as you do negative...
“Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, leaving the recipient open to taking new direction. Meanwhile, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on and defensiveness sets in. You don't need to avoid negative, or corrective, feedback altogether. Just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome.”
Don’t have enough time to give regular daily or weekly feedback? Why not try encouraging peer to peer feedback in your workplace. It works a treat for us!
Don’t forget, feedback should be a two-way street. You should also be asking your team how you can improve and what they like best about working for your company. That way, you can make sure that you are constantly improving your teams’ work environment and providing the support they need to be happy with your company.
2. Have fun
In my experience, more friendly communication with team members is much more productive than adapting a strictly business, formal approach and makes everyone feel happy and relaxed at work.
At Contactzilla, we treat our team to regular fun days out, which has a number of benefits for motivation, as well as enabling team members to form friendships which strengthen their communication in the office.
Workforce intelligence company Evolv have been studying “The Friendship Effect” and has found that friendships at work can have significantly positive impacts on business. Dr Michael Housman, Director of Analytics at Evolv said of the studies…
"Our studies found that rather than just a pleasant happenstance, work friendships significantly affect employee attrition and productivity… It is this simple: employees referred by their friends are less likely to quit and are more productive; employees who are trained in a generally 'friendly' culture stay twice as long; and if you have friends at work, you are more likely to stay at that job."
3. Look to the future
In a 2013 poll by UK job site Reed.co.uk, 84% of respondents claimed the opportunity for career advancement is either essential or very important when it comes to working life. Therefore, if you want your team to be happy and productive, you need to regularly communicate what prospects your employees have if they stay with your company.
This goes back to feedback. At Contactzilla, we hold performance reviews quarterly so our team always know where they are, where they’re going and how to get there. We find this helps to keep them motivated and happy in their jobs.
4. Talk about your mission
Hopefully, your company already has a clear mission statement, a sentence or two explaining your business’ goals and ethics.
Your mission statement holds the key to making your employees feel valued. If your team can understand the effect their roles have on the success of the business, they are more likely to feel valued and motivated to do the best job to help the company.
Communicating your passion about your company’s mission is also a great way to get your team excited about what they’re doing. If your team feels passionate about your company, they’re more likely to feel happy at work.
5. Provide the right tools for communication
Don’t be afraid to try new tools to make sure your team are able to communicate easily and effectively. There are hundreds of apps to help you improve communication in your workplace. We use Basecamp for project management, Campfire for chat, TINYpulse for anonymous weekly feedback and Contactzilla for managing and sharing contact details.
Don’t forget - everyone is different!
While improving communication in your company is sure to please your team, don’t forget that everyone is different and people will respond differently to different types of communication.
One study by Joshua Freedman and Carina Fiedeldey-Van Dijk, Ph.D found that people who say they are less productive and people who say they are more productive, have different motivators for increasing productivity, however, they observed that most employers were trying to motivate all of their employees using the same methods.
“Individualization is essential which means employees and managers need an increased awareness of “what makes people tick.” Perhaps most importantly this data reinforces the “emotional intelligence truism” that relationships drive business success.”
About the Author
Mark Panay is the Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Contactzilla, a seamless contact management system for businesses and organizations. In addition to his love for emerging technology, Mark is also a trustee of Deki, a very cool microfinance charity that helps entrepreneurs in developing countries generate sustainable incomes. Say hi on Twitter or Google+.