The Importance of Internal Communication & 4 Tips to Improve It

Internal communication has a powerful impact on every aspect of your business. When it’s good, your company will reap benefits such as increased employee engagement and productivity, lower turnover, and more innovation. These benefits directly result in increased profits and lower expenses. 

Conversely, disorganized and unreliable internal communication leads to:

  • Frustrated employees and low office morale
  • High absenteeism and turnover rates
  • Low productivity and engagement
  • Poor customer service
  • Lack of transparency
  • Negative company culture

How do these affect your bottom line? Low employee morale translates to low productivity and high absenteeism, meaning you’re paying employees the same amount but getting less output in return. High turnover leads to constant hiring and training, both of which require a significant financial investment from your company. 

If your company’s internal communication isn’t where it needs to be, you can take steps to improve it using the tips below. 

How to improve internal communications

Nearly 75% of employees feel out of the loop when it comes to company information and news. Your employees are your company’s most valuable resource. If a huge percentage of them feel uninformed and disengaged, your bottom line will suffer the consequences. Fortunately, you can improve your internal communications in a few simple steps.

Audit current communication channels

Do you know all the ways your employees talk to each other and share information? It’s not unusual for employees to use half a dozen communication channels in a single workday. It’s important to understand what their preferred channels are and the strengths and weaknesses of each. 

The communication channel you choose to relay a message is just as important as the message itself. Create guidelines to help employees and managers determine the best communication channel for the type of information they need to share. 

For example, a manager who needs to provide difficult feedback to an employee should do so in person whenever possible, or by video or phone call as a last resort. This type of communication greatly benefits from nonverbal cues such as tone and body language. Using an impersonal channel such as Slack or text message opens the door for misunderstandings and resentment. 

If your audit reveals a mass of random channels that are used inconsistently across the company, you may want to consider consolidating your internal comms to a company intranet. If you use a solution such as Onehub, you can create an intranet that centralizes company communications, securely stores all of your internal documentation, and provides easy-to-use collaboration tools.

Limit one-way communication and encourage feedback

Communication is most effective when it’s a two-way conversation. Try to limit internal communication that is simply an information dump. You’ll get better results if the majority of your communications open the door for employees to respond with questions, ideas, or constructive feedback. 

Soliciting engagement shows employees that you value their thoughts and feelings. It gives them more of a stake in your company’s success when they know that their opinions will be heard and may make an impact. 

Not only does this lead to a better employee experience, it also has incredible potential for innovative ideas that can improve your business. Each of your employees has a unique combination of experience, skills, knowledge, and perspectives. When you encourage two-way conversations, you can tap into this invaluable resource that would otherwise be inaccessible. 

Keep remote workers involved

The pandemic ushered in remote work in a big way, and it looks like it’s here to stay. If your company has a mix of remote and on-site workers, it’s critical that you keep your remote employees in the know. 

If your internal communications don’t adequately involve them, you can unintentionally cause a schism between the two types of workers. In-office workers will benefit from better communication and personal involvement, and remote workers will eventually become resentful and frustrated with the unequal treatment. 

Using cloud-based digital workspace is an excellent solution for this. It gives remote workers and in-office workers equal access to information and communication in a secure and organized virtual environment. 

Be reliable and balanced with your communications

It’s essential to provide workers with regular communication about company news, upcoming projects, colleagues’ milestones and achievements, and whatever other information is important to your employees. 

While it’s easy to fall into the habit of only sending updates for big news, this inconsistency spells disaster for good internal communications. Determine the best channel for regular company communications such as a weekly newsletter or a monthly all-staff meeting. Once you’ve established this, make it a priority to maintain that schedule. Reliability is an important part of building trust with your internal communications.

It’s also crucial to keep your communications balanced. Employees should be informed of good and bad news about the company and encouraged to voice their opinions. Many organizations are hesitant to share negative updates, possibly fearing that their employees will immediately start updating their resumes. However, you’re more likely to find that workers respond with reasonable questions and ideas to remedy the problem. 

Are you trying to improve internal communications and business efficiency? You can try Onehub for free for 14 days to see how much easier internal communications can be! Onehub provides a secure and user-friendly platform to centralize communications, organize company files, and facilitate collaboration.

Your Guide to Collaboration That Empowers Your Team

Collaboration is an essential tool for an organization’s success. It’s also one of the most difficult to master. Many company executives have gone to great lengths to foster workplace collaboration, from open-plan offices to extravagant team-building retreats. 

Judging by the responses to a recent survey, these efforts haven’t been successful. Nearly 90% of employees blame workplace failures on a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication. 

Designing office spaces to enhance teamwork and encouraging employees to meet in person regularly have long been the go-to tactics for fostering a collaborative work environment. As the general workforce becomes more distributed and focused on remote technology, companies face even more challenges.

Whether your team works together in person or on separate continents, the tips below will empower your employees’ collaborative efforts. 

Improve communication 

Collaboration centers around communication, so it’s the perfect place to start building a team that works together well. 

Make communication a standard practice in the office. Have regular staff meetings to remind everyone of the company’s goals and keep them informed about the progress and remaining tasks on any big projects. This will also give employees ample opportunities to ask questions and present their ideas within a group setting. When this becomes the modus operandi, your team will begin to feel more comfortable working alongside their colleagues (literally or remotely). 

Online collaboration tools can help you establish this new communication-focused routine. With Onehub, you can create a digital Workspace dedicated to your team’s collaborative efforts. All relevant files are stored in the Workspace for easy access, and comments and messaging allow colleagues to reach out at any time with questions or ideas.

By providing specific collaboration tools and making it clear to your team that communication is a priority, you’re establishing a positive environment where collaboration can thrive. 

Share resources 

The adage “Knowledge is power” is especially fitting in the workplace. It’s no coincidence that companies store hundreds of terabytes of data. All that information is a valuable resource, and employees need to access it regularly to do their jobs well. 

In addition to accessing information resources, your employees also need help in the form of online collaboration tools. These types of digital resources aren’t only for remote teams. The Millennial generation will soon make up the majority of the workforce, and they’re much more productive when communicating and collaborating through technology. They are radically changing the workplace dynamic, and digital team tools are becoming a basic necessity for good collaboration.  

When evaluating online collaboration tools to offer your team, think safety first. Secure file storage and sharing are of the utmost importance. Earlier, we mentioned that data is a valuable resource for your team. Unfortunately, it is also valuable to hackers. That means your business files need to be protected by high-level security protocols such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and granular access permissions.

Once you’ve ensured the cloud storage and file-sharing provider has your data security covered, the next feature to look at is functionality. Is the software easy to use? Does it provide ways for your team to communicate within the platform? Does it offer a robust selection of document collaboration tools? 

Collaborative team tools such as Onehub’s file versioning and syncing allow employees to work together more efficiently. Nothing brings document collaboration to a halt faster than someone working from the wrong version of a file or in a file that isn’t synced. It’s a trainwreck, and workers lose precious time and momentum as they try to fix it. You can make sure no one on your team has to suffer through that fate again by providing them with the online collaboration tools they need. 

Define roles

Unclear expectations can derail a project quickly (and may also lead to employee burnout). You can encourage better collaboration by defining each member’s role. If multiple departments are working together, be sure to identify each team’s overall purpose within the project. 

If certain roles require access to sensitive business files, Onehub can help you create digital roles within the platform. With granular permission settings, you can store all project files in one convenient location while only allowing certain users to access confidential information. Our “view as” feature allows you to preview the Workspace in different roles to double check that everyone’s been assigned the correct level of access.

Employees also need clear guidance on what tasks they need to complete. For complex projects, especially ones with multiple deadlines, it’s helpful to have a “task” tool in your chosen business software that allows you to assign tasks to each team member. 

In Onehub’s interface, admins can view all assigned tasks or sort them by employee to check overall or individual progress. Each employee can see what tasks they have assigned to them, so they always know exactly what’s expected of them. This feature also allows managers to monitor everyone’s workload and prevent anyone from being buried under a mountain of work.

Whether you choose to go digital or analog to assign project roles and tasks, this level of clarity is essential for good workplace collaboration. 

Encourage brainstorming

Create a physical or digital workspace where employees can connect to brainstorm. There should be a strict “no bad ideas” policy to encourage everyone to share their thoughts, even if they aren’t fully formed yet. This establishes a creative, collaborative atmosphere where all employees have equal opportunities to be heard without judgment. This is a fantastic way to come up with fresh ideas to move your business forward, and it doubles as a team-building exercise that will enhance future collaborations. 

To ensure no brilliant ideas get overlooked, create and share a file with the team that recaps each brainstorming session. Team members can easily access the document whenever they need some inspiration. You never know — there may be some gems in there that will inspire a future project!

Onehub can set your team up for successful collaboration. Sign up today for a free 14-day trial to see all the ways we can help. 

Is Your Workplace Toxic? Onehub Can Help

In the realm of bad jobs, there are two major types. There are bad jobs that simply aren’t a good fit for the employee, and then there are toxic jobs that aren’t a good fit for anyone.

Toxic work culture is more than employees occasionally suffering through a groan-inducing annoyance. It’s a distressing environment characterized by poor leadership,  high turnover, ineffective communication, employee burnout, and bullying or harassment. When these problems begin to affect the company’s productivity and well-being of employees, you officially have a toxic workplace culture. 

Employees are the most valuable resource a company has, so it’s a smart investment to cultivate a positive work culture.  

What effect does a toxic workplace have?

It takes a toll on employees’ physical and mental health

Imagine you’re being chased by a bear.* Your heart is pounding. You’re hyper alert. Your muscles are tensed. Your body is as ready as it can be to handle this situation. 

That’s your fight-or-flight response. It’s triggered when your brain perceives a very stressful event. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t that great at distinguishing between stressors. Is it a bear? Is it a toxic job? It can’t tell, so the fight-or-flight response is initiated. 

In the case of a toxic job, the perceived danger doesn’t go away, so the stress response continues. Eventually, this life-saving evolutionary response begins to backfire, making employees sick. 

A toxic workplace often sees a higher than average rate of workers using sick days. Even when employees are at work, they’re much less effective. They miss deadlines, overlook details, and lack motivation. This chronic stress also makes people prone to irritability and less able to control their emotions, which adds to the toxicity of the work environment. 

*Safety note: Never run away from a bear

It makes employees lose the motivation to do their jobs well

Toxic work culture breaks the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The results are a cascade of problems that start with high levels of stress, moves to low morale, and quickly turns into poor productivity or work quality.

Emtrain’s 2020 work culture report showed that 95% of employees say their commitment to work plummets after just one to two toxic incidents. In an interview with NPR, a mistreated employee said about her toxic job: “I did the absolute bare minimum to get my paycheck. It did not make me want to help the company in any way.” 

Most employees want to do their jobs well. This “I’m just here for the paycheck” attitude results from bad work culture, and it can be a business’s downfall. 

It creates a high turnover rate that increases costs and derails projects

According to a 2016 report from the Society of Human Resource Management, the average cost-per-hire is $4,425. That’s a significant investment, and the higher the company’s turnover rate, the less return they see on those investments.  

That cost-per-hire figure doesn’t include the money a company may lose when it no longer has enough experienced staff to perform to clients’ expectations. A team that’s operating shorthanded and in a toxic environment has little chance of success. They’re set up to fail, and as they do, so does the business.

How can you maintain a healthy and productive work culture?

Make communication a priority

Communication is the basis for all human interactions, and it’s critical to maintaining a good work environment (or correcting a toxic one). In Inc’s article, “Why Do Employees Really Quit Their Jobs?” six of the eight reasons given are related to communication. 

The first step to good workplace communication is, fittingly, to talk about it. Make it clear to your employees that they’re welcome to ask questions, discuss concerns, or have the occasional friendly chat. 

Sometimes employees won’t feel comfortable initiating discussions, especially if open, honest communication has not been the standard operating procedure until now. Managers can make workers more comfortable by asking specific questions. Instead of saying, “Any questions?” at the end of a meeting, assume that there are. Try to gauge what they might be. A question such as, “What are some potential downsides to this project?” is much more effective at opening the door to communication.

Onehub can improve workplace communication

It’s important to provide your team with effective communication tools. In-person meetings are great (or were, pre-pandemic), but they’re not always practical. Sometimes an employee just has a quick question or update, or their problem would be more easily understood within the context of the file they’re asking about. With this type of communication, technology is the best way to get the message across. 

Onehub’s comprehensive business software provides many avenues for work communication and collaboration such as comments, messaging, and tasks. Comments can be left directly on files or folders to share feedback with colleagues, and comment icons clarify which items people are interacting with. Workers can easily communicate with everyone in the Workspace by posting messages, and tasks clearly convey who is responsible for what.

Don’t micromanage employees

Micromanagers are one of the top complaints from unhappy employees. It’s insulting to an employee’s intelligence and skills when their boss constantly checks in on them. It hinders their ability to do their job well, and it can dramatically lower their morale and commitment to their work.

Micromanagers suffer from a fear of the unknown. Is the new client account being handled properly? Will the stakeholder presentation be ready by Friday? These types of questions plague them. They don’t feel comfortable unless they know exactly what everyone is doing and where every project or account stands. 

If not addressed, a micromanager can single-handedly create a toxic work environment.

Onehub can save employees from micromanagement

An easy way to circumvent anxious micromanagers is to provide them with easy access to everyone’s status — without them checking on employees directly.

Onehub allows users to assign tasks to employees and track their actions and progress via audit trails. Assigned tasks can be viewed all together or per person, and audit trails show the granular details micromanagers crave, such as what files someone viewed or if they made changes. When a task is completed, Onehub can send a would-be micromanager a notification. 

Having access to this information makes it more convenient to check Onehub than to interrupt an employee’s work to find out what they’re doing. 

Share information

“Knowledge hoarding” is a real problem within the workforce, and a toxic work culture is often the catalyst for it. In a job where colleagues are always in competition or workers don’t feel valued, employees are understandably concerned about their job security. If people have to come to them for help or information, it makes it clear that they’re a valuable asset. 

This unwillingness to share information has expensive consequences. Your company loses money every time an employee has to stop working to search for information or reinvent the wheel to complete a project. Some estimates put this cost at around $63,000 annually

Any information that a worker needs to do their job should be readily available to them. Your company can ensure this by taking time to document processes and creating an environment that supports collaboration and knowledge sharing. 

Onehub makes it easy to share information

Once you’ve established a work culture that supports sharing information, the next step is to make sure employees can easily do that. 

Onehub is built around information and file sharing. Administrators can quickly grant access to the platform and define permissions for every employee at the Workspace, folder, or individual file level. This ensures sensitive information remains confidential while necessary files are easy to find and share. 

Once they have access, employees can collaborate with colleagues and freely share information via comments, messages, or tasks within the user-friendly Onehub Workspace.

If any of these common workplace problems look familiar, it’s time to take action. Try Onehub’s free 14-day trial to see how easy communication and free-flowing information can be. 

How to Maintain a Human Connection With Clients While Social Distancing.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many companies interact with their clients and partners. Whether you’ve moved from a brick-and-mortar store to online sales or switched to zoom meetings with clients instead of an in-person visit, you’ve added some physical distance in your business relationships. 

It can be difficult to keep up the same level of customer care that your business once provided. Though all reasonable clients and customers will understand the need for this change, it still has a powerful subconscious impact on their view of your company. It’s easy for them to feel like they’re out of the loop on project updates or that their issues are not a top priority anymore. 

In an interview for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow explains that the pandemic has created “an opportunity to have [a] longer term, deeper relationship with consumers.”  

To build this relationship, you have to find ways to add a human touch to your socially distanced client experiences. 

Be more empathetic.

It’s not accurate to say that there’s a silver lining to this pandemic, but this collective crisis does mean it’s easier to empathize with others. Rather than a personal crisis that may be difficult to relate to, there’s a universal understanding of the trials and stresses COVID-19 has created. 

It’s likely some of your clients are dealing with sick family members, an unemployed spouse, or an “office” that’s surrounded by barking dogs and screaming children. Keep this in mind if you have a client who’s late sending an important file or hasn’t responded to your emails promptly. 

A good perspective to focus on right now is to assume positive intent. Chances are, your client would very much like to move their project along but is having a hard time keeping up with things right now. Assuming positive intent allows you to respond with empathy instead of annoyance. 

Increase communication, and be mindful of your words 

One of the best ways to maintain a strong connection with your clients is to increase your communication. Give them more frequent updates on projects, bids, or fundraisers. This will assure them that they haven’t been forgotten and that your team is still working hard for them.

When emailing clients or customers, keep in mind that it’s difficult to convey tone through the written word. Take a minute to reread your message, looking for language that could unintentionally come across as harsh. Emotions naturally run high during crises like a pandemic, so approach interactions with more care than usual. 

If your clients are comfortable using video calls, try to schedule a weekly call to check in on them and cover any important updates. Seeing each other creates a level of emotional connection that an email or traditional call can’t replicate. If video calls aren’t an option, a phone call is the next best option. 

Emails are great for conveying information, but they generally feel impersonal. You don’t have to replace all of your emails with video or phone calls, but reaching out this way about once a week is a great way to remind your clients or customers that they still matter.

Provide easy-to-use collaboration tools.

If you provide a service that requires a cooperative effort from your clients, it’s more important than ever to provide them with tools to collaborate efficiently. 

On a normal day, your clients probably had a hundred things vying for their attention. The pandemic has added the additional stresses of adapting to remote work, feeling isolated from friends and colleagues, and concerns about the health of their loved ones. Your business has to make it as simple as possible for them to provide the files or information your team needs. If it’s at all difficult, that task is going to get pushed aside.

A great digital Workspace or Client Portal will provide the tools that make it easy for clients to work with you. MossWarner uses Onehub’s Workspaces. Vice President Marcy Kalina says, “It delights our clients to have their own area and provides special value to them.” MossWarner creates customized Workspaces to accommodate the unique needs of hundreds of clients. 

The value of this type of personalized digital space has only increased since the pandemic. It’s a clear sign that your company is invested in your clients and takes their need for easy collaboration and secure file sharing seriously. With an easy-to-use interface and features such as tasks, comments, file syncing, and granular user permissions, your clients will stay engaged throughout every project.

Be adaptable to client needs and lenient with policies.

Now is not the time to strictly enforce company policies that make life harder for your clients. Consider waiving late fees and extending deadlines. You want your clients to feel like you have their backs right now. Penalizing them for minor infractions sends the opposite message.

If they’re having trouble operating within your typical business policies, try to identify an alternative solution. For example, if your client can’t seem to get your team the assets needed for a website redesign, see if they’d agree to give your company temporary access to their file storage. Your team will get what they need to keep the project on schedule, and your client will undoubtedly be grateful that you’ve taken this task off their plate. 

This doesn’t mean your company should allow clients a free pass to ignore invoices or behave badly. Just be open to finding outside-the-box solutions for your clients and extend a little grace and understanding whenever possible.

It pays to be nice.

Your clients are wearily navigating the continued stresses caused by COVID-19. You can deepen business relationships now by maintaining a human touch. Empathy, communication, and (ironically) technology are the perfect tools to make your clients’ lives easier. They’ll remember these small acts of kindness and consideration, and you’ll be repaid tenfold in customer loyalty and referrals. 

Give your clients and your team the gift of Onehub’s customizable Workspaces. Sign up today for a free 14-day trial.