A survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that 86% of senior executives, managers and entry-level staff experience poor communication that leads to losses in productivity, missed project deadlines and sales opportunities.
The US survey included 403 workers divided equally from companies with annual revenue of less than US$10m, between US$10m and US$1bn and more than US$1bn and provides insights into what employees see as the biggest barriers to workplace communication.
The most significant consequence of poor communication at work included added stress (52%), delay or failure to complete a project (44%) followed by low morale (31%).
Interestingly, 42% said different styles of communication was the major cause of poor work communication with unclear responsibilities (34%) and time pressures (31%) a close second and third.
It was middle management that was revealed to be the most affected by the consequences of poor communication. This was because middle management generally deals with the widest variety of people and job roles in an organisation and therefore caught between different styles.
- Poor Communication Affects Productivity: 86% of workers face losses due to communication issues.
- Stress and Project Delays: Ineffective communication leads to stress (52%) and project failures (44%).
- Communication Style Differences: 42% cite varying communication styles as a major issue.
- Middle Management Most Affected: They face the brunt due to diverse interactions.
- Clear Goals Improve Meetings: 78% believe clear meeting objectives can enhance communication.
What to do about workplace communication
The survey showed that 78% of respondents thought having clear goals for every scheduled meeting would significantly improve workplace communication.
There were also some discrepancies in which methods of communication are seen as effective compared with how frequently they are used. For example, email is the most heavily used communication tool (60% use it every day) but only 40% said it was an effective form of communication.
The survey suggests that realigning methods and styles of communication organisations will be able to support employees to communicate more effectively and can have a direct impact on the bottom line.
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