Originally published in 2022 on Mandel Communications blog
In our new hybrid work era, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is more critical than ever.
But existing communication shortfalls among teams have been made worse by the disconnect that comes with an ever-changing mix of in-office and remote workers.
As corporations around the world seek to shift mindsets to the new world of work and strike a balance between in-person office and work-from-home team relationships, well-developed business communication skills are crucial to help keep employees more engaged, healthy, and productive. These skills are also important for collaboration and critical for driving innovation and growth.
The problem is, a recent survey of 1,252 business leaders and knowledge workers conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Grammarly found serious gaps in communication. The “State of Business Communication” report details a range of problems these gaps can lead to, including a negative impact on the bottom line.
This matches what we hear from our clients. The lack of adequate communication skills comes at a significant cost to companies and organizations and creates significant hurdles in all areas of the business.
The Impact of Poor Communication Skills: 5 Challenges
Here are five key challenges highlighted in the Grammarly study that reinforce the importance of strong communications skills training:
Challenge 1: Performance
Poor business communication is impacting overall performance.
Almost 9 in 10 (eighty-nine percent) of business leaders say poor communication in the workplace has adversely impacted performance in their organization, contributing to increased costs, missed deadlines and resolution times, and harming brand reputation and credibility. Leaders revealed that ineffective communication is a widespread problem, and conceded that they lack the proper tools and strategies to communicate effectively.
If team members aren’t kept in the loop on a project’s progress, they may replicate work being done, or worse yet, stall while they wait for direction. Another individual may hesitate to collaborate with a colleague after a misunderstanding. Or a leader may miss the opportunity to support their team by avoiding a tough conversation with a team member that’s not meeting deadlines. All of these communication situations can negatively affect performance, and all could be helped with more skilled and confident communicators.
Challenge 2: Culture
Business communication issues hurt workplace culture.
Nearly three out of four business leaders (72 percent) said their teams have “struggled with communicating effectively over the last year,” in the “State of Business Communication” survey. Most (86 percent) knowledge workers said that they experience communication issues in the workplace. They cite clarity and responsiveness as major pain points. Both groups say they were “concerned about effective communication with remote or hybrid working models in the future.”
For a striking example of the importance of effective communication and reducing information bottlenecks, look no further than a McKinsey report on the pandemic-induced Great Resignation, which saw 19 million knowledge workers leave their jobs due to a significant communication disconnect and lack of meaningful interactions. The study found sharply diverging views on the importance of communication in company culture, with employees being much more likely to prioritize relationships and employers being more geared toward transactions.
Strong interpersonal communications skills – including good listening skills – help strengthen workplace culture, supporting better collaboration and increased productivity, creating a win-win for leadership and employees.
Challenge 3: Wasted Time
Poor business communication wastes the precious resource of time.
Business leaders estimate that poor communication results in 7.47 wasted hours per week per worker — that’s nearly one in five work days per week or 20 percent of total productivity. Three in four leaders say their team spends “too much time and energy resolving miscommunications,” and the majority experience the negative effects of those miscommunications on a weekly basis.
Time is a precious commodity for businesses, and strengthening communication skills and best practices can save valuable time, while bridging gaps that create organizational silos, leading to communication breakdowns that hinder access to information teams need to make sound decisions.
Challenge 4: Financial Costs
Ineffective business communication costs companies money.
Based on data provided by corporate leadership, a lack of effective communication and collaboration is costing the companies surveyed an estimated $12,506 per employee per year — based on an average salary of $66,967. And that’s only part of the picture. Poor communication can have a direct financial cost and indirect cost attributed to operations and talent that could cost American companies as much as $1.2 trillion annually.
A full 96 percent of business leaders said that “effective communication is essential for delivering the business results expected [of their teams] in the coming year,” and 74 percent feel their company underestimates the cost of poor communication.
Challenge 5: Strategic Goals
A lack of effective business communication skills is a major roadblock for achieving strategic goals.
Many business leaders (87 percent) surveyed said their team “will not be able to meet their goals without effective communication skills.” And 94 percent of leaders surveyed said, “New tools and/or strategies are needed to achieve effective communication in a hybrid or remote workplace.”
Leaders and teams need to learn how to transcend all forms of communication, and how to bridge the gaps that happen with hybrid teams. How are you guiding your teams to collaborate when some are in the office and others working at home? How do you deliver performance feedback virtually? How do you connect and inspire your hybrid teams in a balanced way – and make sure you are drawing out all their perspectives?
Many leaders still lack the soft skills to effectively communicate in this environment. But given the new realities businesses face, they need to build those skills fast. The communication and collaboration that does or doesn’t occur in the workplace — in-office, remote or hybrid — will make or break an organization’s performance.
The importance of communication in today’s business world
Poor communication hinders operations, wastes time, reduces productivity and has a negative impact on a company’s bottom line.
As more organizations opt for hybrid work models, business communications speed bumps are inevitable. So, it is essential that companies proactively develop and improve communication skills for leaders and teams that match this moment.
Strong communications capabilities that adapt to today’s fluid workplace will allow teams to take advantage of the best of both worlds: the convenience of remote work and close collaboration of face-to-face interaction in physical work environments. And their businesses will benefit from the increased productivity and performance of connected and engaged teams.
From messaging, conversation, and listening to collaboration, storytelling, and presentation, focused communications skills training can mean the difference between success and failure of a company in any industry.
Effective business communication skills are a must have at every level of business. Learn more about how we can help you to level up hybrid communication and collaboration at your organization. You can see our full set of Communication Skills courses here.