12 ways to improve communication at work: a helpful guide

Updated 16 August 2023

Healthy, positive communication at work can help an organisation to run smoothly. Communication is crucial for ensuring that all members of a business work towards the same goals and objectives, building strong, trustworthy professional relationships and fostering a happy and productive atmosphere. If you're part of a company's HR or senior management team, it's important to continually strive to create a workplace environment that meets and exceeds all communication requirements. In this article, we explore why communication at work matters and provide 12 great strategies you can use to improve communication at work.

Why it's important to improve communication at work

It's important to improve communication at work if an organisation is not achieving its goals or is falling short of its potential. Communication is a vital component of many business functions, such as describing goals and objectives, mitigating and managing conflict, fostering professional relationships and conveying important information. There are many reasons to continually improve communication in the workplace, including:

  • Gives employees the opportunity to be heard: Good communication processes allow opportunities for employees to share their thoughts and feel they're genuinely recognised. When employees feel they can communicate effectively, they tend to be more engaged, more productive and happier.

  • Overcomes technological barriers: As hybrid and remote working models continue to redefine the workspace, technological barriers may hinder communication. Addressing how to improve the unique communication challenges that these working models expose is necessary for success in the modern workspace.

  • Addresses challenges: As a business grows, the challenges it faces and the way the company addresses them develops and changes. Maintaining effective communication can help address challenges when they arise in a fast and fluid way.

  • Improves customer satisfaction: Striving to improve communication within a business fosters better communication between the company and its customers. If you teach your team great communication techniques, they're likely to adopt them in their own communication.

  • Allows space for innovation: Open communication without judgement is a great space for the creation of new and innovative ideas because employees are likely to be more willing to share their thoughts. Fostering an atmosphere where it's acceptable to think in unconventional ways can promote innovation.

Related: The importance of good communication in organisations

How to improve communication at work

Communication takes many forms within an organisation so there are many different methods that you can use to improve it. You may wish to follow the steps below in a different order or miss steps where you believe the business is already excelling. Following these steps can help to ensure that everyone in the workspace has the chance to share their thoughts, effectively listen and take healthy, appropriate action. The steps include:

1. Understand all communication channels

As workspaces continue to change and incorporate more virtual elements, it's crucial for you and your team have a full understanding of your communication channels, old and new. Whether it's your telecoms system or your new virtual break-out room, take the time to completely learn, teach and ultimately utilise each channel based on what works best in certain situations. Promote each channel's benefits and organise learning sessions in different formats so all employees feel comfortable with them.

Related: How to improve your communication skills

2. Organise regular one-to-ones

Scheduling regular meetings with each employee can ensure they know that you're available to communicate with them, listen to their concerns or address questions. One-to-ones can be a great way to make employees more comfortable with communicating with you, giving them a chance to bring important matters to your attention. Try to keep these meetings friendly and open so that you can address any concerns your employees bring up before they become larger and more difficult to manage.

Related: Improving Your Manager Communication Skills

3. Ensure you take reasonable action

Listening to employees is one step in improving workspace communication, and taking the appropriate action to address what employees have said is a good follow-up. Acting on the communication you receive is a good way to demonstrate to employees that you're trustworthy, empathetic and willing to help. Your timely and appropriate action can help employees to communicate their true feelings in the future and continue to address challenges in a healthy way.

4. Fully explain your reasoning

Explaining why things are a certain way can help employees to feel in control at work. For example, business tasks may change in scope or focus throughout their implementation, and sometimes employees either take on more responsibility or change task direction. To promote a smooth transition when this happens, fully explain why the change is important and how it fits into overall business goals. Remember to be honest when describing these reasons, even if they're banal, to reinforce transparent, meaningful communication.

Related: A guide to the 7 C's of communication

5. Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback is an excellent way to promote healthy communication as it provides an opportunity for constructive criticism. Asking for feedback actively engages employees and invites them to participate, think critically to achieve a collective solution and feel more meaningfully connected to the business. Employees may have a range of preferred formats for providing feedback so make sure to offer alternative ways for your team to do so.

6. Practice authenticity

By practising authentic listening and communicating, you allow employees to interpret messages in a more meaningful way by providing space for vulnerability and humility. Authentic communication may simply take the form of admitting when you don't have an adequate or complete answer to a query or admitting when you've made a mistake. By demonstrating that you're sincerely on the same level as your employees, you break through an important communication barrier, allowing for stronger relationships.

Related: What is issue management? Definition, benefits and guide

7. Keep communication open and flowing

It's important that employees feel a constant flow of communication so that sharing views in a constructive way becomes second nature. Promoting alternative communication channels, like internal instant messaging platforms, for example, allows for employees to feel connected and part of the conversation even if they work remotely. This may include regular meetings over Zoom, messaging over Slack, emails or visits to the office. Open and continually flowing communication promotes each employee to provide updates on their general wellbeing and also tasks, issues or general queries.

8. Show your face

Showing your face is most applicable to remote or hybrid workspaces where isolation is a real concern. Showing your employees that there's a human behind the screen is a great and simple way to promote better communication. Scheduling regular video one-to-ones, for example, helps to humanise the communication between you and other employees and is a good way to promote authenticity and sincerity. This can help make dealing with challenges or difficulties much more empathetic and less detached.

Related: The importance of nonverbal communication in the workplace

9. Work with your employees' preferred communication styles

Try to ensure that you cater to whichever system of communications works best for the individuals in your team. For example, some team members may find it easier to derive information from an email instead of a face to face meeting. It may not always be efficient to work in this manner, but when possible, it can demonstrate that you care about your team members and understand how to get the best results with them.

10. Maintain transparent processes and workflows

Communication extends beyond conversation and can influence processes and workflows. Make sure your team, whether remote, hybrid or physical, has access to processes and workflows that clearly explain all the relevant information necessary to complete their tasks. Ensuring these overarching processes are accessible and transparent helps to build trust and situate each employee and their responsibilities within the larger context of the organisation's goals.

11. Organise communication training sessions

Offering helpful training sessions can ensure your team knows how to take advantage of the communication channels you establish. While some channels may seem second nature to use effectively, don't assume your employees know how to get the most out of them without guidance. Make sure that training sessions are available for all your communication channels at regular intervals for any employee who wishes to take part, even if it's just to optimise their base knowledge of the channel.

12. Share business updates and important news

Sometimes the biggest blocker to effective communication in the workplace is when employees feel like their regular tasks exist within a vacuum. A good way to avoid this is by ensuring that important company updates and newsworthy information is shared with everyone in your team in a meaningful way. Remember that even obscure company news may affect your team, their goals and their targets, so keep them feeling valued and up to date by sharing any news that's pertinent to the business.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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