How Closely is Employee Morale Connected to Organizational Communication?
The compelling changes to workplace activities has forced HR leaders to develop new ways to enhance organizational communication.
Organizational communication is a very important component in organization development, or OD. An organization relies on an effective communication strategy to improve the overall effectiveness of its capabilities. The compelling changes to workplace activities has forced HR leaders to develop new ways to enhance organizational communication. Here, people’s role is very important. People, as managers, employees and end-users (of HR Technology solutions and tools), strive to build a strong communication network with an enhanced data-driven approach. With attrition at an all-time high, and good talent hard to come by, OD specialists consider Organizational communication as an effective tool for boosting talent acquisition and retention. One way communication influences OD, is by positively increasingly employee morale.
Why Focus on Organizational Communication?
By definition, Organizational Communication refers to the numerous formal and informal modes of communication that occurs in an organization. During the pre-COVID times, these communication majorly played out in the physical form, such as verbal and non-verbal. Now, this has evolved into a more modern digital channel, where employees are messaging and meeting in virtual workplaces. Today, teams expect quicker responses to queries and this is only possible only when every employee in the organization understands the importance of organizational communication and its components.
Despite the rapid surge in the use of social media platforms and mobile app-based messaging tools, emails remain the top choice for users in internal communication. In fact, close to 70% of the internal employees rely on “email-only” communication. However, it’s true that the length of emails play a very important role in soliciting a response from the recipient. In fast-paced teams, email is not the best option. Therefore, teams are switching to website or mobile-based applications to make quick conversations. This has certainly made a huge impact on the way internal communication is perceived as “important” or “not-so-important” or “casual” when it is written in a non-email format.
It is quite obvious that, honest and open communication can leave a long term impact.
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But how is open ended communication directly related to the employee morale?
A survey conducted by Deloitte, a popular research firm revealed that lack of clarity related to information sharing and communication in any organization can wreak havoc. Most of the HR managers interviewed agreed and accepted that poor communication framework in any organization can demotivate employees till a large extent. As a matter of fact, communication clarity and approach in any business organization can have a direct impact on employee morale.
How Is Employee Morale Defined in a Contextual Perspective and What Are the Factors Affecting It?
Employee morale in the current perspective is defined as a collection of a number of factors. Satisfaction in the workplace and attitude of employees towards accepting challenges can be identified as major factors to shape up employee morale. It has been observed that employee morale is quite high when a person immediately joins while it decreases over a period of time depending on the employee engagement quotient. On the other hand, communication is considered to be an important factor in driving employee morale within any particular business organization for that matter of fact. HR experts from some US based organizations reveal that feedback remain to be an important component of formal communication channel in order to motivate the employees.
Communication Impact on Employee Morale: Summary of an Opinionated Survey of Employees
Employees interviewed by PwC from private organizations in US, revealed the following:
- 33% of the employees felt that they had a loose morale due to lack of strategic communication channels in place
- Almost 18% of employees felt that, micromanagement reduces employee motivation till a large extent
- Almost 15% of employees felt that some kind of reward and recognition is necessary to drive work performance
- 10% of employees felt remote working actually boosted their morale although uncertainty loomed in the market
- 9% of employees surveyed revealed that stringent workloads create poor engagement quotients.
Let’s take a look at some of the effective communication strategies business organizations can follow in order to boost employee morale:
Embrace and Engage “Conversation” in Communication Channels
Organizational communication, if embraced as a peer-to-peer conversation, is likely to lay the foundation for trust, transparency and reliability. Employees who communicate more often through the apps for internal communication versus emails, are found to be more collaborative and agile in their workplace commitments. Business leaders should however set a standard for “conversation benchmarks” and HR managers could set up an orientation program specifically for users who rely on chat-based messaging apps for internal communication. This is very important in prevention of workplace harassment and cyber bullying of employees using chat-based apps.
Provide Employees with a Workplace Device
BYOD arrangements have paved the way to further digitalize the organizational communication channels. By allowing employees to avail of a BYOD option or provide them with a company-sponsored device, organizations can build a very professional and trustworthy relationship among its staff. Of course, to implement a solid BYOD foundation, HR leaders must speak with their counterparts from the IT and Business Intelligence teams. This HR-IT collaboration would enable everyone to understand what kind of support, administration and compliance ecosystem an organization would require to make sense of the BYOD engagements, and if this truly influences employee morale at workplace.
Flexible Communication Encourages Employee Productivity
When employees are able to access critical business information and messages from “anywhere”, it instills a sense of confidence in them. This directly affects the way employees could be communication within a team and outside the organization. At a physical workplace, where hostility and on-the-face rivalry could disrupt the workflow and interpersonal conversations during important meetings, people look out for alternatives to resolve conflicts. Digital tools such as mobile messaging apps and chat messaging platforms provide this alternative, and more often than not, these apps have been found to be very useful in resolutions of conflicts in a more meaningful manner without deriding the importance of corporate permissions and legal aspects.
Like flexible working, having a flexible communication channel as part of the overall organizational communication could improve workplace productivity and “happiness”. Of course, the downside is, some team members may not be comfortable taking too much messaging outside of their business hours (which is understandable!). Business leaders should encourage all team members to bear in mind that some team members may be slow to respond, or unavailable beyond business hours.
HRTech and IT:
Creating Role Clarity and Defining Effective Reporting Structures Within the Workplace
Formal communication channels in any particular workplace should be made to work so that there remains an absolute focus on employee role clarities. Defined work roles can make employees understand the functionalities and help them to be motivated to ensure large scale performance.
Managers Must Be Experts on Counselling Techniques
Any business manager in the present context, need to play a counselling role in preparing employees for challenges. Counselling and career coaching have been identified as proven strategies to improve employee morale in the long run.
Making a Room for Informal Communication to Create a Culture of Sharing and Caring Amongst Employees
Although management consultants warn organizations not to encourage informal communication, in certain cases, informal communication also happens to be a workplace requirement. Building up on a cultural quotient is much required to boost employee morale, as stated by Mckinsey. At the same time, informal channels of communication can help in managing discrepancies in employee engagement as well.
Creating a Line of Supervision Through Experienced Personnel
This is a major strategy, for any particular business organization in order to measure performance within a framework. HR consultant firms like Ma Foi acknowledge that a strong line of supervision can play a significant role in engaging employees meaningfully while work schedules can be successfully created. A clear line of supervision can help to manage employee expectations within a defined framework of operation.
Training for Professional Development
Training for professional development can be an effective strategy to improve employee morale. As a matter of fact, training is thought to be quite effective to enhance skill base of the employees concerned.
Designing a well – planned reward and recognition mechanism
This is yet another strategy to improve workplace culture along with employee morale. A reward and recognition mechanism being put into place can help the employees to identify with the organizational goals. Setting up targets to perform and scaling rewards accordingly can largely help in igniting a positive work culture.
In the new era of digital transformation and agile workforce development, organizational communication has emerged as one of the major factors contributing to organizational development, The other factors are power, organization or employee management, and resistance (to change). Business leaders should adopt a more nuanced approach to building an effective organization around the concepts of workplace collaboration and experience-driven communications. Employee morale could then become a collective outcome wherein a continuous interaction between employees as well as organization ensures a professional engagement. Experts emphasize on building up a conducive work culture to promote meaningful engagement of employees to improve value of performance. Harnessing leadership potential is also an important factor to improve engagement within a defined work role as well. Training on the other hand, remain to be an effective tool to engage employees meaningfully.
Above all, building a conducive culture remains to be a priority in order to boost employee morale.