Poor internal communication:
causes, consequences, and solutions

Discover where communication issues stem from within companies.

Internal communication is an indispensable tool for human resources management and management. The smooth flow of information within a company indeed brings numerous benefits. It allows for the dissemination of corporate culture, strengthening employee engagement, fostering team cohesion, improving the social climate, retaining employees, and building an attractive employer brand.

However, many organizations suffer from poor internal communication. According to a 2018 survey conducted by INside and OpinionWay, one in two employees feels that their management does not communicate sufficiently internally. Worse still, one in three respondents states that they are not well informed about what is happening within their company, and 20% claim they do not have the information they need to do their job. This observation is particularly worrying considering the costs incurred by the lack of internal communication. A study by the telecommunications company Mitel estimates the financial impact of ineffective internal communication at €9100 per year per employee.

So, how can we address internal communication problems and improve information transmission within a company? In this article, Mozzaik decrypts the causes and consequences of ineffective internal communication, provides solutions for effective communication, and introduces internal communication tools revolutionizing the sector. Happy reading!

What is internal communication?

Internal communication refers to all communication actions and tools implemented within an organization to circulate information from management to employees (downward communication), from employees to management (upward communication), and among employees regardless of their hierarchical level (horizontal or transversal communication).

Internal communication tools

There is a variety of internal communication tools. Internal communication mediums can be physical (company magazine, bulletin board, brochure, etc.) or digital (intranet, enterprise social network, newsletter, etc.). Interpersonal exchanges, both formal (meetings, seminars, individual interviews, etc.) and informal (lunch breaks, Zoom coffee, after-work gatherings, etc.), are also important channels of internal communication.

The key role of internal communication in business

Internal communication has an operational function as it disseminates processes and rules internally (especially safety instructions). It also serves as a lever for motivating employees by promoting corporate culture, encouraging employees to adhere to common values and a shared project. Lastly, internal communication plays a crucial role in fostering a peaceful social climate. It smoothens interpersonal relationships and social dialogue, strengthening cohesion and employees' sense of belonging to the company.

Signs of poor internal communication

A decrease in productivity, a growing number of projects falling behind schedule, an increase in security incidents and workplace accidents, a rise in absenteeism and turnover, or a deterioration in the social climate marked by the emergence of interpersonal conflicts can be symptoms of poor internal communication. These signals should prompt the HR department or the communication department to rethink its internal communication plan and adopt internal communication tools more tailored to the company's needs and its employees.

What are the consequences of poor internal communication?

The consequences of internal communication problems or a lack of communication in a company are as numerous as they are costly. We can notably mention:

Decreased productivity and loss of earnings

Decreased productivity linked to ineffective internal communication. When information and knowledge do not circulate well, employees struggle to understand their objectives, procedures to follow, as well as roles and responsibilities. Disoriented, they waste time seeking solutions from their colleagues, become more stressed, and eventually disengage. As a consequence, according to a 2016 study by the American software publisher Vocoli, an organization with 100 employees would lose nearly 884 hours per year clarifying its internal communication. Ultimately, the productivity loss caused by poor internal communication would cost an average of $26,041 per employee per year.

Increase in errors, accidents, and security incidents

A lack of internal communication results in an increase in errors and security incidents. When employees do not have access to important information and safety instructions, they do not know how to perform their tasks optimally. In the worst case, this lack of knowledge of the rules can jeopardize the physical and mental health of employees and threaten the security of the company, leading, for example, to workplace accidents or the loss of confidential data.

Decrease in collective intelligence and innovation

Teams with poor communication are less innovative. They do not exchange ideas and knowledge, so collective intelligence does not fully flourish. This represents a loss for the organization, which could improve its products and processes to boost its performance and be more competitive in its market.

Deterioration of the work atmosphere

Poor internal communication leads to a deterioration of the company's social climate. When employees are deprived of communication tools, opportunities, or best practices that allow them to communicate well with each other, they struggle to understand each other. Interpersonal conflicts can then emerge, degrading relationships between colleagues and, more generally, the work atmosphere. Ultimately, ineffective internal communication has a negative impact on employees' ability to work as a team, as well as on the mental health of employees who may feel isolated and stressed.

Deterioration of social dialogue

Poor internal communication can degrade relationships between employees, their superiors, and their leaders. When downward communication is deficient (for example, due to a lack of transparency, coherence, or pedagogy), employees cannot understand, accept, and adhere to management decisions. The resulting mistrust can jeopardize the company's operation, especially during times of transformation or crisis. Conversely, a lack of upward communication can lead to internal tensions. Indeed, employees who do not have satisfactory means to express themselves do not feel listened to and considered by their management, which generates dissatisfaction.

Increase in turnover and absenteeism

Ultimately, between employee disengagement, risks to physical and mental health, poor work atmosphere, and tense relations with management, defective internal communication can contribute to an increase in staff turnover and absenteeism. Two phenomena that have a significant cost for employers. According to the Work Institute, the amount to invest in replacing an employee corresponds to 33% of their annual salary and can even reach 200% of it. Moreover, according to calculations by the Sapiens Institute in 2018, the cost of absenteeism at work in France amounts to €107 billion per year.

What are the causes of poor internal communication?

To improve communication within a company, it is necessary to identify the causes of its inefficiency. Obstacles to internal communication can be of various natures and vary from one organization to another. The most common problems with internal communication include:

Existence of organizational silos

Issues with internal communication can arise when information does not flow between hierarchical levels or between departments due to a lack of relays (managers, employee representatives, etc.) or appropriate communication tools (notice boards, intranet, internal social network, etc.). If nothing is done to disseminate company news in production or distribution locations, for example, frontline employees may be excluded from information channels managed by headquarters. Similarly, in the absence of a shared information system for all members of the organization, employees from different departments or entities may fail to exchange important information.

Lack of transparency and coherence

The lack of transparency and coherence in downward communication is also a common problem with internal communication. To gain the trust and commitment of employees, leaders must communicate regularly, clearly, and sincerely about company policies, objectives, and challenges. In this regard, downward communication should not exclude certain groups of workers or avoid important subjects. Moreover, internal messages must be consistent with measures actually implemented and with external communication.

Insufficient upward communication channels

Another common problem with internal communication is the lack of communication channels promoting upward communication. Employee representatives play a key role in social dialogue and in conveying information from employees to management. However, besides these representative bodies, information often tends to flow in only one direction, from hierarchy to employees. Under these conditions, decision-makers do not have a precise understanding of what is happening on the ground. They lack the necessary information to make informed decisions and implement effective measures. At the same time, employees feel that their needs, expectations, and opinions are not taken into account by their management. Consequently, relationships between teams and their hierarchy deteriorate, and the social climate is affected.

Information overload or inadequate internal communication strategy

While a lack of communication is detrimental, information overload or a poor internal communication strategy can also hinder effective communication within a company. Excessive, poorly prioritized, poorly targeted, overly complex, dense, or dispersed information can be harmful. Overwhelmed, employees do not have time to consume all the content they receive. They do not know which information is important for them. Worse, they do not understand the messages conveyed to them. For example, sending technical IT documentation to a non-technical internal audience can be counterproductive and lead to security vulnerabilities.

Linguistic and cultural differences

In international companies, internal communication is a significant challenge. Due to language barriers, differences in cultural references, or lack of common professional codes, employees may encounter difficulties in communicating and understanding each other. Simple misunderstandings can make collaborative work more complicated, leading to delivery delays, errors, or conflicts. Some employees, more direct in their communication style, may offend their peers with their perceived lack of tact. Others, more suggestive, may struggle to convey their requirements, creating tensions within or between teams. These common internal communication problems are certainly not insurmountable. To address them, the internal communication plan may include the implementation of communication tools adapted to multilingual exchanges or the dissemination of best practices in intercultural communication.

Inappropriate or misused communication channels

Finally, poor-quality internal communication can result from the inappropriate use of internal communication tools or the absence of communication channels adapted to the needs of different internal audiences or the type of information being transmitted. While an information board may be useful for on-site workers, it does not reach remote workers. Similarly, distributing HR process information on a flyer or in an occasional newsletter is less effective than making it permanently available on the company's HR intranet.

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How to improve internal communication in a company?

Solutions exist to address communication problems within a company and improve internal communication. Designating a person or team responsible for internal communication is essential, as is implementing a communication plan tailored to internal audiences. In addition to this, three major levers must be activated to improve communication within a company:

Implementation of effective communication channels

There are numerous and varied internal communication channels. To improve information flow, it is necessary to activate levers adapted to different internal populations. Traditional communication methods, such as on-site notices, face-to-face information meetings, or informal discussions at the coffee machine, remain relevant. However, these channels have limitations, especially in the context of changing work modes (hybrid work, flex office, etc.) and digital transformation.

Collaborative work and digital internal communication tools surpass the limitations of traditional channels. With their various functionalities, they address the constraints of remote workers, "dispersed" teams, field employees equipped with smartphones, or international companies. Technologies such as the Mozzaik365 Digital Workplace (an extension of Microsoft 365) and the MODA dashboard creation application in Microsoft Teams, for example, allow:

  • Accessing internal information from any device. Employees can log into their Mozzaik365 Digital Workplace or their MODA Dashboard from their desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. All employees, including telecommuters and field teams, thus have access at any time to the information, processes, news, and contacts they need to work effectively.

  • Targeting information to a specific audience to avoid overwhelming employees with information and tailor the message to each internal audience. Both MODA and Mozzaik365 solutions include a "my news" component and a "my events" component. These web parts enable targeting the dissemination of internal news articles or events to a group of employees. This targeting helps send the right message to the right people and helps combat information overload.

  • Highlighting and centralizing important information so that each employee can quickly see the content of interest and interact with it without leaving their digital workspace. MODA and Mozzaik365 allow for the simple creation of a Communication Dashboard or a personalized communication intranet ("news wall"). This aesthetically pleasing and practical platform centralizes internal communications (internal surveys, CEO message, events, announcements of new hires and work anniversaries, etc.), blog articles, and company posts on social media. Our two solutions also include a "focus" widget that highlights important information by displaying it prominently on your customized dashboard or news wall.

  • Easily finding an internal contact to communicate smoothly with colleagues from other teams, departments, or even entities. Both MODA and Mozzaik365 include a "company directory" module. This interactive company directory allows you to search for a person by name, department, location, expertise, and contact them with just one click. A real plus for breaking down silos that often hinder internal communication.

  • Encouraging upward and cross-functional communication through employee feedback collection. The "ideas box" module of Mozzaik365 allows employees to make suggestions to their employer and peers directly from their Digital Workplace. The proposals made by employees are then submitted to a vote by other members of the company to bring out the most relevant ones. This feature stimulates collective intelligence and social dialogue. As a bonus, it allows management to gauge team sentiment and better understand team expectations to guide its policies.

  • Enhancing the sharing of information and knowledge among employees by facilitating content creation. Mozzaik365 includes a contribution assistance feature. This allows employees to write and publish SharePoint pages (wikis) and news articles quickly and easily. This helps streamline the flow of knowledge, improve horizontal internal communication, and stimulate collective intelligence.

  • Breaking the language barrier by providing intranets translated into multiple languages. Mozzaik365 includes an "Automatic Translation" module. This allows you to create intranet pages in more than 15 languages and manage multilingual content simply. This ensures that no employee is excluded from your internal communication efforts.

Promoting Transparency

The second essential lever to activate for improving communication in a company is the establishment of a genuine culture of transparency. By allowing all employees to access clear, precise, and accurate information from anywhere, digital tools contribute to greater transparency. Devices aimed at promoting upward communication (internal surveys, ideas boxes, approachable managers, etc.) are also a good way to promote transparency in the company. Through these, employees are encouraged to make suggestions, as well as ask questions to their superiors and leaders.

Of course, leadership plays a key role in establishing a genuine culture of transparency. To ensure effective internal communication, it must lead by example in information sharing. Specifically, management must communicate regularly about the company's objectives, challenges, and policies. Additionally, it must convey this information in a understandable manner and provide correct elements to the various stakeholders in the company. Ultimately, top management must demonstrate availability to listen and respond to feedback and questions from teams. Such an internal communication strategy, based on transparency, helps strengthen social dialogue and employees' trust in their leaders.

Training for Managers and Employees

The third essential lever to activate for optimizing internal communication is training for managers and employees. Indeed, interpersonal communication is not an innate skill, and the codes specific to your organization cannot be mastered by all employees right away. To help employees and managers communicate effectively, it is necessary to provide them with internal communication tools. But that's not all. It is also important to give them the keys to adopt the communication codes specific to your organization (such as a writing culture, for example). This can involve writing a guide in the form of a mini intranet site, for example. More advanced training may also be necessary, such as getting familiar with nonviolent communication, active listening, intercultural communication, or conflict management.

Managers are privileged relays for internal communication. It is up to them to disseminate and, above all, explain the decisions and policies made by management. But that's not all. Managers also have a role in upward communication. Being close to the ground, they are indeed well placed to convey the expectations, needs, and grievances of employees. Thanks to them, top management can identify opportunities and make decisions quickly before a situation becomes critical. To fulfill their dual role, managers must therefore be particularly supported and trained to develop their communication skills.

Internal Communication Issues and Solutions: What to Remember

Maintaining quality internal communication is an important issue for companies. Poor internal communication has consequences on the overall performance of the organization and generates significant financial costs.

The causes of ineffective internal communication are varied. Lack of transparency, organizational silos, information overload, or the absence of an appropriate communication channel are among the common internal communication issues.

In addition to implementing an internal communication plan, three main levers can help combat these factors that hinder the proper dissemination of information within the company:

  • Access to internal information from any device. Employees can connect to their Mozzaik365 Digital Workplace or MODA Dashboard from their desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. All employees, including remote workers and
  • Establishing a true culture of transparency, led by exemplary top management;
  • Training employees, especially managers, to enable them to fulfill their key role in upward and downward communication.

Are you looking to boost internal communication in your company? Discover Mozzaik365 and MODA internal communication solutions by clicking right here.



Poor internal communication: causes, consequences, and solutions

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