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Employee communication guide: Key to workplace success

Effective employee communication isn't just nice to have—it's crucial for business success. It can boost productivity by 25% and shareholder returns by 47%. But poor communication leads to misunderstandings and project failures. Discover how to master this vital skill and transform your workplace.

What is effective employee communication?

Effective employee communication is the clear, transparent, consistent, and timely exchange of information among leaders and employees in a company or organization.

This also involves actively listening, showing genuine empathy, adapting communication styles, and fostering a culture of collaboration across the entire team.

The ultimate goal is to align everyone with shared business goals, increase engagement levels, and improve overall performance.

Based on the definition, the key elements of effective employee communication include:

  • Clarity: Ensure messages are easy to understand.
  • Timeliness: Provide relevant information when necessary.
  • Transparency: Share information openly and honestly.
  • Active Listening: Listen to understand various perspectives.
  • Adaptability: Tailor communication styles to segmented audiences.
  • Consistency: Maintain a cohesive flow of regular communication.
  • Engagement: Encourage two-way communication through feedback and dialogue.

By considering all these crucial aspects, you can build good relationships, boost employee productivity, and drive business success.

Five key challenges in employee communication

Effective communication is crucial for organizational success. However, several communication barriers can hinder the employees' smooth exchange of information and ideas.

Explore 5 potential challenges and learn how to overcome them below.

1. Identity-based communication barriers

  • Linguistic barriers: Differences in native languages, regional dialects, and communication skills hinder employee interactions. About 65% of executives confirm the language-driven barriers between managers and employees.2
  • Cultural barriers: Multicultural teams with diverse cultures, traditions, beliefs, and values can lead to stereotyping. These false assumptions can cause potential misunderstandings and conflicts in cross-cultural communication among employees.
  • Generational barriers: The generational divide between Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z poses communication challenges. This divide results from different communication styles, expectations, and preferences.

2. Remote-work communication issues

  • Asynchronous communication: Different schedules and time zones hinder effective collaboration among remote workers. Nearly 15% of work-from-home (WFH) employees cite time zone differences as their second-biggest struggle after loneliness.3
  • Lacking non-verbal cues: Body language, eye contact, and voice tone can cause miscommunication in remote settings due to misinterpretation. Over 35% of remote workers claim this as their biggest challenge.1
  • Potential technical glitches: Employees might encounter disruptions during video platforms, phone contacts, and other remote sessions in real time. Technical issues could disrupt the flow of information, leading to frustration among internal communicators.
  • Home distractions: House entertainment, background noises, and family members can distract WFH employees. They can impact the quality and effectiveness of remote communication.

3. Hierarchical communication structures

  • Strict hierarchical structures: Workplace hierarchy often limits direct, instant communication between senior leaders and regular employees. It creates organizational barriers and filters the information flow, negatively impacting internal communication and collaboration.
  • Unapproachable business leaders: The perceived unapproachability of C-suite executives and managers usually blocks employee interactions. This hinders open and transparent communication within organization.
  • Formal communication channels: Some companies establish communication flow based on organizational hierarchy. This structure leads to the loss or distortion of crucial information as it passes through multiple layers of the hierarchy.

4. Sensitive topics and confidential information

  • Sensitive topics: Consider taboo topics in the workplace, such as politics, religion, disability, mental health, and sexual life. These topics can create discomfort among employees and make them reluctant to engage in open discussions.
  • Confidential information: A perfect example is a salary discussion among employees. Three-quarters of UK workers feel too embarrassed to discuss their wages with HR managers.4
  • Close communication: Some workplace issues are sensitive but need to be discussed. If neglected, they can lead to misunderstandings and resentments, creating a less inclusive company culture.

5. Information or communication overload

  • Multiple communications channels: Establishing various channels can benefit employee interactions. However, consistently responding to various communication streams can cause stress and reduce productivity.
  • Various message exchanges: Channels of communication like group chat solutions and business-wide emails are usually necessary at work. However, they might overwhelm employees with excessive information.
  • Work-related data overload: Information overload can be the downside of frequent employee communication. About 60% of managers report feeling stressed and inefficient in team collaboration due to information overload.5

Nine expert strategies for effective employee communication

Organizations must adopt internal communication strategies to promote inclusivity, transparency, and open dialogue. They help overcome some challenges and foster effective employee communication efforts.

Implementing thoughtful strategies and addressing challenges head-on creates a more connected, engaged, and productive workforce. Below are our effective employee communication strategies shared by business experts.

1. Create open and transparent communication

Opening lines of communication with transparency is crucial for enhanced workplace communication. Start by sharing common goals, explaining the reasons behind objectives, and fostering a culture of collaboration. Likewise, communicate honestly and regularly while giving employees a voice in your company.

Gerald Lombardo, Head of Growth at Popl, however, emphasizes the emotional gap in internal communication.

To address this, we've given the green light to the universal emoji language at work. That's how we've closed the gap of emotional deprivation via employee communication platforms.

The emoji revolution has already begun. A Marlee study reveals that 93% of remote workers believe emojis have a positive impact on the feeling of connectedness at work.

2. Encourage active listening

Active listening is an interpersonal communication skill that goes beyond merely hearing. It involves 4 pillars: hearing, understanding, responding, and reflecting.

This approach leads to mutual understanding between managers and workers. Three-quarters of employers (75%) view it as increasingly important in the coming years.6

Stephan Baldwin, Founder of Assisted Living, highlights the "mindfulness principle" for active listening in employee communication.

There's a line drawn between hearing to respond and listening to understand. The latter is total awareness of every moment in communication by soaking in what the other person says without getting lost in thoughts and emotions.

Rather than simply waiting to respond, this intentional focus is essential for active listening and empathic communication.

3. Foster empathy and understanding

Promoting workplace empathy is vital for employee retention, with 96% considering it a defining factor.7 Empathy encompasses qualities, such as sincerity, compassion, trust, inclusion, and emotional intelligence (EQ). While some possess these naturally, others can learn, develop, and acquire these key attributes.

Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO of Choice Mutual, commends Zoom for its empathy training sessions during the pandemic.

These sessions helped managers become more responsive to employee needs amid the COVID-19 crisis. By making empathy a core practice, organizations can create an environment where employees truly feel understood and valued.

To further develop EQ, AI Coach Marlee offers coaching lessons for managers in snackable sessions. This employee communication app empowers business leaders to build essential skills and cultivate a more empathetic work environment.

4. Adapt communication styles to your team

Effective employee communication requires adapting style to the audience. Communication styles vary from passive to aggressive to assertive, and employees have different motivational traits that impact how they approach work.

Therefore, it's best to establish communication protocols and later adjust communication styles with others.

At Marlee, we categorize communication as Neutral (task-focused) or Affective (emotion-driven). As such, we offer a motivational analysis to provide insights into personal communication styles and motivations.

Senior leaders or regular employees can also use the "Ask Marlee" feature to get AI-powered coaching advice on communicating with specific team members.

This AI-powered coach lets you convince, pitch, build trust, or find a suitable medium to connect effectively. Take a look at this example:

5. Obtain regular employee feedback

Feedback translates to active engagement and employee retention. About 37% of employees quit because employers don't take their feedback seriously.8

As such, companies implement various strategies, such as employee performance reviews, surveys, listening sessions, and 360-degree feedback.

Jesse Hanson, Content Manager at Online Solitaire & World of Card Games, introduces a new approach—feedback gamification.

Feedback gamification features are like fresh air in modern workplaces. They transform a usual feedback exchange into a fun employee experience to communicate and engage more effectively.

Hanson recommends 'The Feedback Game', a card game developed by Peter Gerrickens. It's an innovative way to make the feedback loop more engaging, interactive, and enjoyable for internal communicators.

6. Celebrate and share successes

Recognizing achievements and celebrating successes boost employee morale and engagement. Every second, the average employee wants more recognition.9

Companies can employ a wide range of methods, such as hosting award ceremonies, whether in-person or virtually. They can also use internal communications hubs to share positive feedback such as thank you messages and success stories.

Lastly, offer achievement motivation coaching programs to boost employee confidence and build leadership via digital tools like Marlee.

Further, Jim Pendergast, Senior VP at altLINE Sobanco, suggests celebrating work success via social media.

Never miss an opportunity to celebrate individual or company milestones on Facebook, X, or LinkedIn, as that's where many employees spend time.

Organizations can foster a strong corporate culture of appreciation by consistently recognizing and sharing successes through multiple channels.

7. Encourage social Interactions outside work

Companies should foster employee engagement outside the workplace. Out-of-office interactions can  build trust within an organization. They are best for strengthening interpersonal relationships among team members.

Volodymyr Shchegel, VP of Engineering at Clario, cites the value of a non-workplace for employee socialization.

It's a perfect arena for introverts and passive communicators to share. Chances are, they feel more comfortable opening up in casual, non-work settings. Who knows? Tech geeks unwilling to talk in the workplace might become friendlier and 'chattier' in the escape room.

Shchegel recommends activities, such as escape rooms, campfires, and volunteering. He says volunteering can "pull people together, uniting them around common values and maximizing collaboration," as seen in Clario's efforts to help Ukrainians during the 2022 attacks.

8. Offer corporate communication training

Robust team communication entails addressing the 'what' and 'how'. The former involves critical areas, such as chat or email etiquette, active listening, nonverbal communication, constructive criticism, and conflict resolution.

The 'how' includes online coaching programs, group discussions, role-playing scenarios, and classroom-style training sessions.

Canva, for instance, has established its internal coaching team to help leaders and team members reach their full potential. Its internal coaching lead, Sarah Nanclares, said they use Marlee as their  executive coaching software.

They leverage it for people communication strategies, whether in recruitment, onboarding, talent development, team collaboration, or project management.

Nanclares recommends Marlee for solid communication training.

Marlee is light. It's not complex and cumbersome, which is something I don't enjoy about other tools.

9. Use employee apps for communication

Many companies use employee communication tools  to address remote work challenges. Digital tools like Slack and Asana provide key features, such as text-based communications, video calls, task management, and technological integration.

Some organizations even utilize social media platforms for remote communication and collaboration.

Morgan Taylor, Co-Founder of Jolly SEO, recommends Slack for cross-team communication.

Slack is a powerful tool with different channels for various work topics. But the best part is the 'virtual water cooler' channel, where employees can chat informally, share some really cool things, and connect with each other.

Taylor recommends pairing up remote employees with the WaterCooler bots in Slack. It can encourage them to take 5-minute breaks and let off steam from work overload.

The benefits of effective communication

Effective employee communication offers numerous benefits for companies and organizations. It leads to engaged employees, enhanced collaboration, and improved performance.

Meanwhile, poor communication results in goal misalignment, potential errors, work delays, and employee misunderstanding.

Consider the expert strategies above to ensure clarity, transparency, timeliness, active listening, and inclusivity in communication.

These tactics foster a workplace culture of collaboration, openness, empathy, and trust. That ultimately leads to robust interactions and business success!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an employee communication strategy?

An internal employee communications strategy is a comprehensive plan for establishing effective and efficient two-way communication.

An effective communication strategy includes communication goals, tasks, methods, and activities that align with core values and objectives.

What are the most popular employee communication tools?

The top five popular employee communication apps in business are:

  • Slack
  • Asana
  • Monday.com
  • Trello
  • Google Chat

How do you capture employee feedback for your remote team?

You can capture feedback from employees using the following tools:

  • Culture Amp
  • Qualtrics
  • ContactMonkey
  • Glint
  • Engagedly


  1. Gitnux, no date, Communication Skills Statistics [Fresh Research], Gitnux, https://gitnux.org/communication-skills-statistics/
  2. Rubin J, 2011, Reducing the Impact of Language Barriers, Forbes Insights, https://images.forbes.com/forbesinsights/StudyPDFs/Rosetta_Stone_Report.pdf
  3. Sherif A, 2024, Struggles with working remotely worldwide from 2020 to 2023, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1111316/biggest-struggles-to-remote-work/
  4. Soutar L, 2022, 75% of staff 'too embarrassed' to talk to HR about salary, HR Grapevine, https://www.hrgrapevine.com/content/article/2022-07-05-75-of-staff-too-embarrassed-to-talk-to-hr-about-salary
  5. Rajabzadeh A, Nejadirani F, Kermani R, 2011,  Informational Overload; Roots and Consequences, Semantic Scholar, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Informational-Overload%3B-Roots-and-Consequences-Rajabzadeh-Nejadirani/53175074f27d07eb96b6a854255f416bb8dd5169
  6. ‘Corporate Recruiters Survey - 2023 Summary Report’. Available at Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). https://www.gmac.com/-/media/files/gmac/research/employment-outlook/2023_gmac_corporaterecruiters_report.pdf
  7. Beheshti, N, 2019, 10 Timely Statistics About The Connection Between Employee Engagement And Wellness, Forbes,  https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2019/01/16/10-timely-statistics-about-the-connection-between-employee-engagement-and-wellness/
  8. All Voices, 2021, State of Employee Feedback 2021, AllVoices.co https://www.allvoices.co/blog/state-of-employee-feedback-2021
  9. Quantum Workplace, no date, The Importance of Employee Recognition: Statistics and Research,  QuantumWorkplace.com, https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/importance-of-employee-recognition

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