The results from our survey of more than 4,000 US and UK frontline workers and HQ managers are in. And they highlight some major business communication challenges between frontline workers and business leaders.
What’s more, there’s a clearer link than ever before that these issues can negatively affect business performance. Here’s a quick rundown of our findings.
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Democratising company culture
Connecting the whole organisation and giving everyone a voice is an essential part of happy, successful business. But people have a need to send information outwards and upwards just as much as they receive guidance and updates from above.
“17% told us they never speak with their head office – a figure which falls to just 8% in organisations using collaboration tools”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for most employees. Our survey uncovered communication failures between frontline workers and business leaders. And it’s not that leaders are unaware of the value of communication - 74% say they stay connected with frontline workers through informal conversations and meetings.
Good intentions. But it’s difficult for managers to personally connect with everyone in the organisation with face to face meetings alone. Perhaps this explains why people are feeling disconnected from everyone outside their immediate team.
86% of employees feel connected to their direct co-workers but only 14% feel connected to their business HQ. And just 3% feel connected to their C-Suite.
It’s an alarming number. But what happens when managers use other methods to connect with people?
The sentiment improves when a business makes use of tools that enable rounded business communication strategies and collaboration - like messaging platforms, document sharing, and video conferencing software.
“When a business uses collaboration tools, the number of people feeling connected to the leadership more than doubles”
With these kinds of tools, a quarter (25%) of employees feel more connected to their HQ. Even better, the number of people that feel connected to the C-Suite more than doubles.
Creating a gateway to innovation
Innovation is the lifeblood of business. But it can only truly thrive in environments that welcome new ideas and allow them to grow and develop.
The data suggests that many enterprises have more work to do to create these conditions. In short, communication challenges are preventing valuable ideas from rising through the business.
Take this example. Less than half of frontline workers share their ideas with senior team members. But almost all managers (90%) are reporting that their frontline workers feel empowered to share business ideas with them.
And, in a continuation of the trend we saw earlier, those employees without access to collaboration tools were 12% less likely to feel empowered to share ideas internally at work.
“One in four people said their ideas were stifled because of poor communication”
So what’s stopping employees from making their ideas heard? The biggest blocker of ideas is the ability to deliver them. One in four people said their ideas were stifled because of poor communication. Almost a fifth believed that managers couldn’t then follow through with these because of a lack of time and poor communication tools.
A lack of connection
And finally, just under half of our survey respondents believe they have their best ideas outside of work. This suggests that organisations should provide a platform for workers to capture and share these valuable ideas whenever they arise.
Improving employee engagement
The most successful businesses are the ones that employees want to be part of. But survey results suggest that a lack of communication significantly affects employee engagement.
When employees believe they are voiceless – as over half say they are – they tend to lose motivation and enthusiasm. It’s even more demoralising when 83% of managers confidently claim they give all employees a voice within their business.
“When employees believe they are voiceless – as over half say they are – they tend to lose motivation and enthusiasm”
On top of this, less than half of employees think their head office understands the role they perform and the value they bring to the organisation. Interestingly, when employees have access to collaboration tools, this important statistic rises to 63% – a significant improvement.
Take the pulse of your organisation
Part of the challenge is that leaders can appear blind to these issues and believe they’re on top of them. 79% claim they have worked on the frontline and can see the value it brings, and 71% claim they have visited the frontline of their business in the last twelve months. Yet our research shows that the perspectives of employees and managers consistently diverge.
Connect to collaborate
Closing this gap won’t be easy. There’s a clear need for spaces where people can share their experiences – good or bad – with each other and with senior teams.
And although the right collaboration platforms can help management teams to do this, the full answer is cultural as well as technical. The challenge for business leaders is to empower staff all across the organisation to have open and democratic conversations.
Because although some of your workers may be desk-less, they shouldn’t be voiceless.
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