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How HR Can Foster More Open Communication in the Office

Posted by Insightlink on 02/10/23

Effective communication is the linchpin of high-performing businesses. Open communication can improve trust in the workplace, speed up decision-making, minimize errors, and improve the health and well-being of staff.
However, many offices suffer from poor communication. Departments are split into silos and some staff members do not feel that they can raise concerns and queries without fear of reprisal.
Human resources can fix dysfunctional workplaces by promoting more open, honest communication. HR has the power to bring people together and can act as a catalyst for more, respectful, regular communication.
open office communications
Photo by Antenna on Unsplash
Communication Audit
Before working towards more open communication in the office, HR has to assess the efficacy of current communication procedures. This can be a challenge, as some office-bound communication channels are unmoderated and informal.
A communication audit can help HR understand communication in the office by gathering the insights of all staff and employees.
Start by reviewing official procedures and documented communication channels. Log information like the frequency of meetings and create organizational maps to see how each employee relates to one another.
Next, gather feedback from all employees who are present in the office. This will alert HR to unofficial modes of communication and ensure that everyone feels heard and respected. Ask employees to summarize the strengths and weaknesses of current communications channels, as this can help HR identify the cause of miscommunications.
An effective communication audit should end with a goal-oriented action plan. Using the insights that have been gathered during the audit, create a roadmap to improve communication and utilize activities like team check-ins, cross-department activities, and engagement opportunities for remote workers. 
Some staff will find communication more difficult than others. In particular, new hires and introverted employees may find self-advocacy and open communication challenging.
HR can ensure that these employees feel respected by scheduling monthly check-ins with each employee. These monthly check-ins can be informal but should be private and give employees a chance to express themselves honestly.
The HR professionals that host check-ins should be mental health trained and have access to resources to improve mental well-being. HR professionals that understand the stressors employees face can normalize talking about mental health by educating themselves and practicing empathy and compassion at all times.
HR professionals can further improve mental well-being by giving employees access to support and resources following check-ins. This may be as simple as changing an employee's work schedule or responsibilities. Alternatively, HR professionals can put employees in touch with trained therapists who can help them work through the challenges they are facing.
Monthly check-ins are also a great opportunity to assess the effectiveness of new communication strategies. During a check-in, staff should have the opportunity to pitch ideas and make suggestions like cross-departmental activities.
Cross-Department Activities
Larger workplaces tend to become “siloed” as each department has its own specific roles and functions in the business. However, siloes are generally bad for communication and cause misunderstandings between teams.
HR can foster more open communication in the office by running cross-department activities that engage cross-silo leadership teams. Engaging cross-silo leadership teams can make workplaces more flexible and ensures that all departments are working together to achieve a common goal.
HR can encourage staff to take part in large, long-term projects that require cross-department collaboration. For example, sales professionals who want to understand the business better should be able to contribute to rebranding efforts. Likewise, marketing professionals should be given the chance to make a few sales over the phone. This gives team members insight into roles outside of their own department and can deepen each employee's knowledge of the business or industry.
Adjust employees’ KPIs while they work on cross-department activities. Employees should feel that they have time to talk with their peers without rushing back to their desks to get on with their day-to-day tasks. This will encourage more open communication and give folks scope to work outside of their usual silos.
Remote Workers
Remote staff members aren’t present in the building, but they are still part of the larger office environment. However, many managers don’t know how to effectively engage remote staff and inadvertently exclude them from regular lines of communication.
HR can improve morale amongst remote employees by involving them in unique engagement opportunities. Consider remote team-building opportunities like:
  • Create a virtual break area where folks can check in on one another
  • Promote video conferencing during work hours
  • Offer volunteer opportunities outside of the office
Adjusting for remote workers is particularly important for businesses that ask their employees to work long hours away from home. Folks who work away from home are at greater risk of social isolation and are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, malnutrition, and sleep deprivation.
HR can help distanced workers feel valued by opening up virtual offices that promote open communication. This promotes better well-being in the workplace and ensures that remote workers feel like part of the team.
Effective communication is the bedrock of good business. Without open communication, folks will feel isolated and work in their own distinct siloes. HR can improve communication by hosting monthly check-ins and cross-department activities. HR should strive to involve remote workers in office communications, too, as remote workers are at the greatest risk of feeling isolated and left out.


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