Evolutions in technology have considerably broadened the idea of what it means to communicate. In a fairly short period of time, people have gone from snail mail to email to messaging each other via social media platforms. And society has embraced the new ways of communication in everyday life.
A 2014 Gallup survey asked 1,015 people how frequently they had used a variety of communication methods the previous day. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they had read or sent a text every day. Eighty-two percent had made a phone call on a cell phone. Seventy percent had sent or received an email, and 55 percent had used social media to communicate
While all those options help people feel more connected with others and the world around them, it does create problems in business. Is it best to call or email clients? Should recruiters text potential candidates or leave them a voice mail? Is it more efficient to have team members collaborate through a messaging app or email chains? In order to get the answers to these questions, business leaders need to look at the facts about communication. By better understanding how people prefer to interact, companies can make better communication decisions.
Here are five facts about communication in the workplace:
1. Twenty-six percent of employees think email is a major productivity killer.
CareerBuilder provided lots of interesting stats about what employees think of email. When email became popular, it seemed like it was one of the best things to ever happen to businesses. Now that the honeymoon phase is over, it’s clear email isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Inboxes get overwhelming. Lengthy chains get confusing and make it hard for people to locate the information they need. Group emails become distractions when everyone replies to the thread with unnecessary or irrelevant responses.
One of the best ways to combat the problems of email is to clearly define when it’s appropriate to send one and when it’s not. Let employees know if they’re expected to answer mass communications, and encourage them to communicate face-to-face instead of sending endless emails to a coworker who is just five feet away.
2. Forty-three percent of job seekers under 45 think texting is a professional way for recruiters to communicate with talent.
Maybe it’s because of all the emojis and OMG-esque abbreviations, but it’s taken a while for text messaging to be viewed as a legitimate way for professionals to communicate. Now that everyone has become accustomed to texting, people are beginning to change their mind, according to data gathered by Software Advice.
Job seekers and recruiters alike are seeing the upside of texting. They communicate information quickly and in small doses, while giving both parties the freedom to read and respond to the message when they have time. Texting also creates a connection that makes communication easy throughout the recruiting process. If a recruiter or employer needs to confirm an interview or if a candidate has a question, they can simply send a text.
3. Twenty-six percent of people feel pressured to respond to work communication outside of work hours.
This stat is one of many documented in the Cornerstone's The State of the Workplace Productivity Report. One of the greatest parts of having a wide variety of communication methods is that it makes everyone more accessible. But that can also be one of the biggest downsides. Nobody wants to be spend their free time answering emails or returning work calls, but many people feel pressure to do just that.
Respect employees’ work/life balance by setting strict guidelines on when communication will happen. Let them know they are not expected to check their inbox every hour and that they won’t be called outside office hours unless it’s urgent. By creating a policy and sticking to it at all levels of the organization, employees can enjoy their personal time without feeling guilty.
4. Americans spend 26 minutes a day texting and send 5.3 more texts than the number of calls they make.
There are a lot of advantages to texting. Unlike phone calls, people can refer back to text to get information they may have forgotten. They’re shorter than emails and they allow people who may not be free at the same time to have a conversation. Thanks to all those pros, texting has become one of the most popular forms of communication in the U.S. (A report from Informate details out texting stats of 11 other countries too.)
Since so many people are spending their time texting, it makes sense that’s the best way to get ahold of them. Whether an employer is trying to tell an employee something or a salesman is trying to reach a client, professional texting means nobody has to switch back and forth between phone calls and emailing. Everyone can stick with the one method of communication.
5. Forty-six percent of employees rarely or never leave a meeting knowing what they’re supposed to do next.
Everyone has been in at least one terribly unproductive meeting, but it’s surprising that so many employees regularly leave meetings without knowing what’s next. Whatever the purpose of a meeting may be, it’s clearly not being communicated properly.
By having more organized agendas and establishing rules of order during meetings, organizations can ensure that meetings are more productive and effective. Keep everyone on topic and encourage people to take notes. That will help keep people focused and help them to digest the information that’s being presented.
Communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be difficult. Business leaders simply need to understand the facts about the different ways we communicate so they can choose the best option for the situation and their company.