The way we interact with our colleagues and employees has undergone some drastic shifts in recent years. While remote work isn’t a completely new idea, the amount of workers now operating in a primarily or partially remote work setting has greatly increased. This only underscores the need for clear communication practices, especially employee communication.
Employee communication simply refers to any form of communication that occurs between an employee and the leadership and management of an organization. Employee communication is also a component of the overall employee experience, which can be essential in attracting and retaining talent. When it comes to improving employee communication, it is important to understand the various methods of communication available and what style and channel are preferred by your team.
We have an incredible number of tools at our disposal for better communication. From in-person conversations, to video communications, to recorded videos, emails, direct chat messages, and more, the options we have for communicating have never been greater.
Employee Communication Methods
When it comes to any form of communication, there are two main approaches: synchronous and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication occurs when the interaction happens in real-time and all involved parties are present and participating – like a phone call. Asynchronous communication is what occurs at all other times when the interaction can be moved at the recipient and sender’s leisure and all involved parties are not required to actively participate – like a voice mail or an email.
Depending on the type of interaction and the information needing to be exchanged, it is important to be able to distinguish when each is the preferred method.
When Employee Communication Should be Synchronous
There are certain instances when a synchronous method should be your choice for employee communication. Let’s take a look at a few times when synchronous should be used:
Personal Meetings / Sensitive Information
Part of the employee experience is getting to know their teammates and their leadership. It is important to set aside time for a synchronous discussion to get to know each other and to help them feel more ingrained and included in the company.
This will not only give you a chance to ask your employees questions, but also gives them the space and opportunity to ask you any questions, get clarity on initiatives or activities, or even make suggestions or provide their thoughts.
Another personal meeting that should be done synchronously is when providing feedback or performance critiques. Sending a note or a message about how well they are doing can always be done in the form of a quick email or chat message, but when providing any form of evaluation, it should be done synchronously to improve clarity and allow for the back-and-forth.
Decision-Making or Brainstorming Sessions
These meetings can start through an asynchronous method, but these will ultimately require feedback and input from multiple sources and may be time sensitive.
If someone is unresponsive or you aren’t getting the answer you need to push an initiative forward, having the conversation in real time can require them to provide the answer needed.
Brainstorming can be a powerful tool when faced with a problem where the answer is uncertain and the steps to solve it are unknown. Each participant can pull thoughts together ahead of time, but having additional parties as a sounding board can be instrumental in achieving a desired outcome.
When Employee Communication Could be Asynchronous
In lieu of adding another meeting to your employees’ calendars, some company updates could be handled asynchronously. For example, what may be a typical all hands or team meeting that generally consists of a set slate of speakers just distributing information without the need for input or external feedback could be done in the form of an email or a video message that employees can view on their own time. This will help reduce overall workplace distractions and increase productivity since employees will not need to cut an activity short to be able to join the meeting.
Status Reports or Check-Ins
Similar to a company update, if you are just providing a task list or a few updates to an employee, it can be more effective to do this asynchronously. This gives employees the chance to view, or review, this information at their own time and may not require immediate attention or feedback. This can also go upstream in the form of employees providing their status reports to management without requiring setting up time for a meeting.
Making Employee Communication More Effective
One of the best ways to improve employee communication is to simply understand what your employees prefer. Taking the time to get to know your employees and their work and communication preferences and styles can greatly improve overall communication, engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. While not every interaction can meet their preferred method of communication, making sure to utilize their preferences will go a long way.
Many employees and managers are so used to the traditional ways of communicating, either in person in the office, on a conference call, or via emails. But with the shifts in working environments, communication methods need to shift alongside them.
With distributed teams, we are unable to simply stop by their desk to ask a quick question or have an impromptu session where all available hands are pulled in. Remote and hybrid work teams require more thought and intentionality with our communication.
This challenge has made communication need to be more thought out and prepared. Since many employees are not always with their managers in the same physical location, leadership needs to be sure they are providing the necessary context and relevant information to keep all involved parties on the same page and in the loop. This may require using visual elements as well, such as screenshots, images, GIFs, or videos.
Some employees thrived in the pre-pandemic days while others found their stride in these new environments. It is important to meet our employees, like our customers, in their preferred communication channels.
Zight: The Ultimate Asynchronous Visual Communication Tool
Zight (formerly CloudApp) makes visual asynchronous communication easy. Users can share information more clearly and provide additional context through visual means like screen recording, screen capture, annotated GIFs, and screenshots. Zight can seamlessly integrate into any employee workflow and help minimize disruptions while improving communication.
Through the use of visuals, we can provide greater clarity and context than through just written text. Adding in voice or video to the communication can add an additional layer of personalization and even more clarity with intonation and body language.
For those moments when employee communication can be done asynchronously, leveraging Zight can greatly improve the exchange of information and the employee experience.
Schedule a demo to see how Zight can improve your employee communication today!