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How 3 organizations achieve effective workplace communication

3-orgs-outstanding-communications-16x9.png

We’ve all been there. Sitting in the car with a couple of friends, singing along to a well-known tune, and then belting out the totally wrong lyrics. (For years I thought Bon Jovi were singing that it didn’t make a difference if we were naked or not, rather than “make it or not”.)

It’s vaguely embarrassing, but completely harmless. A simple miscommunication due to poor listening skills and/or poor annunciation (thanks Bon Jovi).

Unfortunately, miscommunication in the workplace can’t be taken so lightly. Many organizations struggle to effectively communicate across locations, between teams, or from leadership, which often leads to confusion, lower engagement, and lower productivity.

One study showed that organizations actually have the potential to improve their productivity by up to 25% simply by improving internal connectivity and communication. That’s huge.

However, it’s often hard to know where to start.

That’s why we’re focusing this article on three real-life examples of organizations that have overcome communication barriers, made connections across their organizations, and consequently achieved effective workplace communication. Here’s how they’re doing it.

How 3 organizations are achieving effective workplace communication

Step 1. Understand the problem  

The first step in overcoming communication barriers is to find out what’s causing them. The problem could be distance between offices, working across multiple time zones, recent and rapid company growth, lack of leadership focus, and many others.

The three customers we’re focusing on were facing at least one of the challenges mentioned above. For the sake of clarity, here’s a short breakdown of the details:

Organization

Communication Challenge

# Employees

# Offices

Buckingham Strategic Wealth
(Buckingham)

Recent hiring boom and multiple locations made communication and culture building a challenge

180

15

Benefits by Design
(BBD)

Lack of efficiency in communication across offices and time zones

90

3

Elevate LLC
(Elevate)

Employees felt they didn’t have enough information or updates from the senior management team

50

1


In each case, they isolated the reason they needed better communication (their Communication Challenge above), and set about fixing it.

Tip #1: If you’re struggling with internal communication and/or culture, try to figure out your specific “communication challenge”. What are you trying to overcome and/or achieve? This is key to finding the right solution, whether that’s a specific approach or internal communications tool 

Step 2. Find a tool that will help overcome this problem

  • For these three organizations, a key part of overcoming their communication challenge was to find a tool that would enable connectivity—something that was designed to improve and encourage effective workplace communication.

They found their answer in a modern internal communications platform (the Jostle® intranet)—an online central hub where everyone can connect. They looked to this tool to:

  • Keep employees abreast of business progress and events
  • Encourage communication and knowledge sharing in and across teams
  • Provide a channel where people could give feedback to leadership
  • Recognize and reward staff for good work
  • Allow people to easily contribute to company culture
Tip #2: If you’re looking for a communications platform, we strongly recommend figuring out what your needs are (see Tip #1) and then spending some time on research and product demonstration calls. If you want more advice on this, check out this handy intranet guide.

 

Want more details on how these organizations found success?
Read the case studies

Step 3. Implement the tool with the help of leadership

Changing the way an entire organization communicates doesn’t happen overnight, but if you’ve got the right tool and a dedicated team, it does happen. And it happens surprisingly smoothly, bringing about great results.

Molly Zerjal, Content Marketing Specialist at Buckingham Strategic Wealth, explains that at Buckingham “many [associates] were hesitant to let go of all-firm announcements via email. Now, such a thing seems rather antiquated. When there’s news to learn or share the first stop is always our Jostle intranet.”

Leaders are a key part of making this communication remodel a success. Not only do they pave the way for others—setting an example of how to communicate and why it’s important—they’re also key to keeping everyone in the loop with business updates and information. Leaders should also use their communications channel to listen and hear the voices and ideas of their people.

ElevateLLC-NEWS.jpgElevate's CEO shares monthly updates in NEWS

If leaders use the new platform for this means, people will know it’s the place to go for up-to-the-minute information on the business. They’ll be both informed and engaged with the business and the platform, and will want to contribute. This is exactly what Elevate did to get more information into the hands of their employees:

“In order to respond to staff requests for greater insight into organizational decision-making, Alayna Buckner (our CEO) introduced weekly CEO Updates. These articles reflect organizational changes since the last installment. This has resulted in very high readership, making it easy to distribute key organization-wide messages,” shared Alicia Elba Williams, Director of Operations at Elevate.

Tip #3. We highly recommend leadership participation if you’re launching any kind of new communications initiative. Here’s a great article on how they can get involved. 

Step 4. Make sure the information is relevant

Getting a good communications platform is a great first step in the direction of overcoming communication barriers, but it’s not the end of the journey. In fact, it’s pretty much the beginning. The rest of the journey will be made up of how you use that platform. That’s the part that’s essential for success.

It’s important to make the platform relevant to an employee’s day-to-day work life. It should be clear that this is where business relevant internal communication takes place; everything from leadership announcements to group conversations with your team.

If you make the platform relevant to employees’ work, people are more likely to log-in and be ready to receive and share information. It will become an effective workplace communication channel for professional and social communication alike.

Buckingham_NEWS another great year.pngBuckingham shares relevant content in NEWS

Conversely, if you make the platform purely social and promote conversation for conversation’s sake, it often has the opposite effect. It becomes a burden for employees as it’s simply another thing they have to log-in to and do that day. The result is a quiet, unused space that’s failing to connect people.  

“Today, we would struggle to operate without the Jostle intranet. It houses all the necessary information for employees. It’s a hub for everything from payroll to retirement information. It’s a one-stop shop for associates and a welcome simplification.”

Molly Zerjal

Content Marketing Specialist, Buckingham

Both BBD and Elevate are doing the same—they’re including interesting and business relevant information on their platforms in order to keep everyone informed of other departments’ activity as well as new policies.

Alicia of Elevate told us that “all members of our management team now use the Jostle platform to announce new policies and procedures.” Meanwhile, at BBD, Julie Einarson, Director, Culture and Communications, shared that “various operational areas post regular monthly updates with a header image that reflects their “vibe”, reinforcing their unique strengths.”

Tip #4: Don’t fill your intranet with fluff in an attempt to stimulate conversation between employees and strengthen relationships. Your communications platform can be a blend of the personal and professional (in fact that blend is what can truly enrich your company culture) but don’t sacrifice the relevant information. It’s what keeps people engaged and coming back.

Step 5. Be yourself and allow your true culture to shine

This goes hand-in-hand with the last step. Even though communication on your platform should be relevant, that doesn’t mean it has to be dry, impersonal, or purely professional. It should simply reflect true culture of your firm and the humans who work there.

The organizations in this article are using their communications platform to blend the personal with the professional, just as they would in their face-to-face communication at work. Here are three examples:

  1. Molly of Buckingham told us: “Our Jostle intranet thrives because it’s truly an intersection of professional and personal. We have always generated a culture of dedicated work matched with lightness and play. Our intranet is no exception. It’s a constant stream of updates, achievements, and fun.”
  2. Julie of BBD shared: “Our Managing Partner shared a dad joke a day for an entire month, as part of a mental health in the workplace initiative. Some of them were really terrible.”
  3. Alicia of Elevate reported that: “Our CEO has an adorable rescue dog, Tucker Q. Buckner, who is a frequent visitor to the office. The most important part of Alayna’s weekly CEO updates is the picture of Tucker and his themed apparel for the week. Alayna’s use of Tucker pictures are aligned with Elevate’s value of authenticity and acceptance because a key element of Elevate’s culture (and our intranet culture), is to encourage everyone to be themselves and share what they most love with each other.”

ElevateLLC-laughter.jpgElevate have effective workplace communication and a thriving culture

By bringing this human side to communication, these organizations are setting a precedent that encourages others to do the same. In this way, people start to share and communicate on a deeper level. Their personalities surface and the company culture begins to truly reflect the people that make up the organization.

Tip #5: The way you communicate with your platform should reflect the culture of your organization. If your culture is quite social and personal, then that will be reflected on your platform, if not, then it may be a more professional space. Don’t try to force anything that isn’t true to who you are as an organization, or it may seem false or forced.

Step 6. Make the most of the features

The features of a communications platform enable a wide variety of communication, everything from one-to-one chats to photo albums posts to company-wide polls. With these you’re able to overcome challenges in connectivity, engagement, and much more.

Here are just a few of the ways these three businesses are using the various features in their communications platform to improve their businesses and processes:

#1. Recognize and reward good work
Most employees want to be recognized and rewarded for their contributions and good work, and it’s far more powerful to give this recognition immediately. BBD is making good use of the Jostle platform’s peer-to-peer recognition feature—called Shout-Outs—to make this happen.

“People who have never met in person share accomplishments and recognition in real time.”

Julie Einarson
Director, Culture & Communications, BBD

This is connecting employees across the company, rewarding people for their efforts, and showcasing great work.

BenefitsbyDesign-shout-out.jpg
BBD regularly uses Shout-Outs to recognize their peers

#2. Increase connections between offices
There are many ways to bridge communication across distance. At Buckingham, they use NEWS Articles to spotlight one of their 15 locations or one of their many associates.

“On our Jostle intranet, distance is no obstacle. Associates from all over the US can be showcased and celebrated. We’re able to go beyond the names or titles and get to know one another. Here, everyone can communicate and connect.”

Molly Zerjal

Content Marketing Specialist, Buckingham

Providing employees with more information lays the groundwork for stronger ties and relationships between staff members at Buckingham.  

buckinghamStrategicWealth-NEWS-connecting.jpgBuckingham spotlights their offices in NEWS Articles to improve connectivity and culture

#3. Improve readership of new policies
It’s important for staff to read and understand new policies and procedures, but it’s hard to ensure they do it. One of the ways that Elevate is making the process more enjoyable is to use the POLL feature in their intranet.

“To improve our staff engagement with long (potentially dry) new policies, we started incorporating fun ‘Poll’ questions after we roll out policies to ensure people are fully engaged.”

Alayna Buckner
CEO, Elevate

In this way, Elevate are making sure the information gets read and understood by employees.

ElevateLLC-laptops.jpgElevate employees staying up-to-date and engaged

Tip #6: When shopping for a communications platform, it’s better to focus on your needs rather than features. While a huge feature-set can look flashy, it may not help you resolve your problem. We suggest focusing on the need (e.g. connecting offices, getting policies read) and then asking communications platform providers to demonstrate how their tool does this.

Conclusion

Strong and effective workplace communication is a cornerstone of a happy and productive workforce, and it’s not as hard to achieve as you may think. A communications platform can go a long way in breaking down barriers, connecting people at all levels and locations, and improving employee engagement. It’s important to choose the right one for your needs, but when you do, the return on investment is impressive.

Looking for a way to better connect your employees?

Check out the Jostle intranet!

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