Increasingly, employers are leaning on analytical tools and data sources to gain insight into their workspaces and employees. As work environments adapt and modernise, companies can only make positive, data-driven decisions when they’re underpinned by robust workforce analytics.
This is true in the case of addressing changing industry needs and improving employee well-being and engagement – or both.
If you’re more of a right-brained person, you may wonder what data has to do with communication. And yet, data is being used by most companies today to work out if their workforce is happy, and if not – why not?
Data has come a long way since the days of computer punch-cards. These days, it’s used to see how well your communication with your staff is working and what you need to do to improve it.
How do we collect employee data?
Surveys are the cornerstone of data collection, providing qualitative and quantitative insights. En masse, individuals often respond to surveys with fixed answers. However, if given the opportunity, people tend to expand their views in a survey’s free text field.
If well-written and well-conceived, staff surveys can provide a mine of valuable information about areas in which your internal communication is lacking or could be improved. Specifically, it can be helpful to ask staff if there are things they need more information about to do their jobs well. That way, you can identify information gaps that need to be addressed.
Perhaps you’ve been talking about a particular issue for months, but feel you’re not getting cut-through? No-one’s listening, so your communication is not effective. Have you considered whether you’re using the right communication channels?
You could use your next staff survey to find out how staff prefer to hear about what’s going on in the business. Perhaps you’ve been using Yammer, when they’ve been expecting direction via a CEO message? Data can provide insights into how employees want you to communicate, what information they need to know, and how best to deliver that information to them.
Data is especially important in understanding the engagement levels of your employees. Disengaged employees can affect morale, productivity and the overall success of a company. They tend to be less likely to come up with new ideas or take risks and can reduce creativity and innovation. High levels of disengagement can also lead to high turnover. This can be costly both in terms of replacing staff and the loss of corporate knowledge.
In addition, in big companies with diverse workforces, data can help segment communication so you can tailor your messages according to various factors. These include job function (professional staff vs operational staff), location (metro vs regional) and communication preferences. This can help organisations better meet the communication needs of different employee groups.
And we all know someone who’s a whizz at Microsoft Excel who can produce clear and easy to understand visual tools like graphs, charts or diagrams to help to communicate complex information in a clear, simple and easy-to-understand way.
It’s a good idea to review your regular staff survey to see if it can tell you if or where you need to improve internal communication. And maybe consider adding in some extra ‘Pulse’ surveys in between to get more feedback on particular issues.
In this day and age, there’s no excuse for not using data effectively to work out how to improve communication in the workplace.
To read more about Data-driven Communications, check out our previous post here.