Managing communications

It’s easier than ever to stay in touch with people, no matter where they are in the world. This can be both positive and negative. On one hand, technology means businesses can hire employees who may be spread apart geographically and still stay on top of things. On the other hand, the potential to be contacted 24/7 may put employees under pressure if managers don’t set clear guidelines and boundaries, and may even cause them to leave a job. 60% of respondents in a survey by Ipsos supported the introduction of a law giving employees the right to ignore work communications outside of their contracted hours.

Let’s take a look at how everyone who’s part of your company can communicate effectively, without it having a detrimental effect on their wellbeing.

How to manage communications

Streamline your systems

There are many digital work tools out there. And in some respects, this is a good thing — businesses have a lot of choice when deciding which ones are right for them. These systems can be used to help everyone in the business communicate, track projects, and manage their own workloads.

However, with such a crowded marketplace, it may be easy to get carried away and rely on lots of different tools. This can make it confusing for you and your employees, who then must keep switching between them. It may also result in key information being missed. As people have to sift through more and more, they naturally start to filter out what they perceive to be less relevant. Keep it as simple as possible so everyone finds it easy to stay in the loop.

Keep it consistent, but not overwhelming

Too many messages, notifications and emails can be a distraction from work, and can also lead to employees feeling overwhelmed. There are two ways you can manage this: consistency, and clear guidelines.

Employees should know which channels are used for which scenarios, and when. For example, you may use your messaging system for imparting urgent information (such as last-minute meeting changes) and emails for information which is essential, but doesn’t need to be digested immediately.

They should also know when it’s acceptable to contact others and be contacted themselves — and when it isn’t. Having a cut-off point in the evening allows everyone to switch off and return the following day feeling refreshed, as well as cutting down on screen time. Encourage everyone to use the ‘do not disturb’ feature or status updates to let others know when they will and won’t respond. Even customising notifications so only essential ones come through can be a huge help.

You may also decide to have no meetings during certain working hours, giving employees windows of uninterrupted time in which to work.

Worker at laptop

Too many messages, notifications and emails can be a distraction from work, and can also lead to employees feeling overwhelmed.

Keep everyone up to date

Nothing creates a feeling of unease at work faster than rumours floating around, and these are often caused by speculation and lack of communication. Avoid whispers by keeping everyone up to date on company news, whether that’s achievements, changes, or plans for the future, and be open to questions when you make these things known.

Delegate if you need to

Keeping on top of communications can feel like a never-ending task, especially during busy periods. Delegating some of this work can free up your time, allowing you to focus on running the business. You might choose to hire someone whose job it is to manage communications, or you might outsource things like message taking and answering phone calls to a trusted third party.

Woman in wheelchair at laptop

Acknowledge employee achievements and milestones

Let your employees know you value them. Don’t just do this through your words; make sure your actions show it too. Here are some ways you can show your appreciation:

Provide a good benefits package and consider going beyond the legal minimum where possible (for example, you might offer more holiday days)

Offer training and development opportunities

Encourage work-life balance by offering flexible working

Share examples of excellent work or feedback from clients

Give employees the opportunity to recognise their co-workers’ efforts in a recognition programme

Celebrate personal milestones

Make sure it goes both ways

Communication shouldn’t be one way. It’s important to get to know your employees as people and invite them to share their thoughts and feedback, then actually take what they say into consideration. This has multiple benefits:

Employees will see you take them seriously and listen, which in turn will make them feel more invested in the business, and more comfortable opening up in future.

Because employees feel like they’re able to speak up, they’re more likely to share ideas and feedback that will benefit your business. Everybody wins.

Day-to-day work will become more efficient because employees will be more likely to keep you informed on progress.

This can be done in a number of ways, from one-to-one catch-ups and anonymous forms to smaller group discussions and all-company meetings. Not everyone will feel comfortable speaking up in front of everyone, so providing multiple ways to share thoughts gives as many people as possible the chance to contribute. Be sure to actively listen and ask open-ended questions to help you understand their point of view.

Meet in person if you can

While remote and hybrid working open up a world of possibilities, there’s also nothing quite like seeing your co-workers in person. So don’t forget to organise in-person events if possible — a Christmas party, a day of team building, or simply a meal or drinks after work. They help everyone build stronger relationships, especially when you don’t need to be talking about the business.


This post was written by JAM and supplied to