The SME internal communication challenge (and how to solve it)

The SME internal communication challenge (and how to solve it)

Beginning the foundations of a company that started as just a vision is an exciting process. The same could be said for relaying this vision to the people you bring along with you. Watching their reactions as they synchronise with you is especially satisfying. Many think back to the company’s early days with fondness because the overarching message ran and evolved with the closest attention. Everyone understood the memo, and each member had a front seat view of its progression.

Unfortunately, some VIP tables just cannot sustain an entire workforce, no matter how many chairs you add. So at some point, messages lose their purity. Communication that filters through multiple layers of management might not be the same message once it hits bedrock, but is there really any choice? It would take a special talent for focus to be able to undertake tasks properly while batting away the replies of 50 employees.

49% of small or medium enterprises (SME) leaders think there is ‘clear communication across job levels’ in their organisation. The same goes for just 15% of employees. So whilst the message may be going out fine according to the leaders, employees tell a different story.

These same employees are negatively affected to the point they are:

3x more likely to feel exhausted

6x more likely to feel depressed

8x more likely to feel empty

So, what are the problems that face these small to medium-sized enterprises? Well, get yourself strapped in…

Most don’t know if they’re communicating effectively

The suggestion box is gathering dust and cobwebs, and on the annual check for who is happy with the company’s inner workings, nobody wants to be the lonely raised hand. Most don’t even trust that the feedback is going to make it to the top.

To improve: Find a way to communicate from the top to all employees without taking huge amounts of time on both ends.

So much clutter…

Perhaps these messages have gone out, a mass email asking everyone sincerely to help you to help them. Unfortunately, lots of employees have long switched off notifications, either through spam or unimportant emails. True, many if not most will monitor their inbox every so often, but even then it’s arduous sifting through what’s routine and what is important just through the tone of the subject title.

To improve: Have an alternative platform that ONLY hosts important communications so that notifications stay on.

Making these responses actionable

This problem covers any collation of responses but for the sake of the flow, let’s keep the topic on employee feedback. Your old medium of emails would give you a bunch of responses, some with essays of opinions, others with one-word answers. You’d have all kinds of synonyms for answers that all mean “fine”, and many more for the inverse. Reading through such an array of responses is a frustrating process, so there’s a need to trim the fat. A need to bind up the yes and the no responses into something more easily interpretable.

To improve: Reduce mixed responses to a default, survey-like format, and be able to visually categorise all of them.

About having a record of your communications…

Having records of things is a good tangent to stay on. Video calls have been a pain to get used to, but some of us are starting to admit clear efficiency in using the internet rather than getting everyone into one room for a short meeting. The issue here is clear records. You can come to agreements quickly and with far less confusion face to face, but then you end up having to clarify details or the certainty of decisions over email anyway. For some things video calls are necessary, but for others, you need that single source of truth that you can keep referring to.

How drastic can that be on productivity? 

Well, businesses as small as 100 employees spend, on average, 17 hours a week clarifying previous communication, which translates to an annual cost of at least $525,000. When people get interrupted frequently, there’s only a 44% chance that they’ll finish their workday feeling like “today was a really successful day.”

To improve: Have a record of all details and all decisions made where meetings are not necessary.

Conflating social media with work messaging

There’s a clear difference between these two things, but in practice platforms like Slack can just end up being a social media platform for your employees. 

Conversations don’t start and end with the subject matter like those rude phone calls in the movies. Polite conversation is a virtue, but it can drag on. Something that was designed to assist with work can just become another thing that wrenches you away from your task. 

According to RescueTime, people who use Slack switched to communications more often; on average 5 minutes, compared to non-Slack users at 8 minutes. A neuroscientist was quoted saying Slack has ‘doubled the pain’ in a Wired article.

To improve: Get rid of the chatter that comes with 2-way instant messenger

How we have solved these problems with Purposeful

Communicate from the top to all employees without taking huge amounts of time on both ends?

Purposeful can create a one-way passage of communication to customisable groups, including an entire workforce.

Outsource to a platform that features only essential communication?

Purposeful was designed for passing on primarily important messages or questions, with notifications in SMS or WhatsApp.

Reduce the endless possible responses so they are easier to recognise and take action? Plus, have a record of all details and all decisions in one place?

Purposeful messages allow you to create preset, multiple choice answers to questions so that the collated responses show as percentages on a dashboard. These statistics will also show who has seen the communication.

Get rid of the chatter that comes with 2-way instant messenger?

Purposeful is not instant messaging, it cuts out any noise that results in distractions. At least, our platform isn’t where it will happen!

If you want to learn more about Purposeful, visit our homepage!