Today’s employees receive more than 576 emails annually, according to a recent report from GuideSpark, a provider of business communication solutions.
That means your team has to sift through noise to find the critical messages. This can lead to missed messages, overwhelm, and confusion, which ultimately means less effective employees.
How Communication Overload Affects Employee Performance
GuideSpark CEO Keith Kitani said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Competition for employee attention is intense, especially when you consider the sheer volume of communications that employees receive every day, so it’s easy for a company’s important communications to get lost in the noise.”
GuideSpark’s survey also found that employees receive about nine emails per day that fall into the category of strategic corporate communications. In most cases, these are the messages you really need to get through and make an impact on your team. But they’re usually mixed in with all the other, less important messages. And even if they do get through, employees end up wasting tons of time sifting through their inbox daily to make sure those important communications get addressed.
How to Combat Overload
So what can you do to combat communication overload among your team? You may not be able to impact the outside communications they receive. But you can start with your own emails or messages. Instead of sending out mass notifications for every change within your business, Kitani recommends a quality over quantity approach.
He says, “By delivering targeted and condensed communication experiences, companies will engage employees with important information so they are aligned and productive.”
It’s not just email that contributes to communication overload, either. Employees deal with messages from meetings, memos, apps, and so many more.
To avoid communication overload, Kitani recommends that employers personalize their communications to each employee. It’s easy for people to overlook messages that look like mass memos to the entire company, especially if they get several such messages each day. It’s also important to only send out targeted messages. For example, if you only need your finance department to know about a new initiative, don’t send out a memo to the entire staff. Just give that part of your team a quick heads up and let your other department focus on the messages that are actually relevant to them.
Additionally, keep essential communications short. If employees are able to get right to the point of each message, they’re less likely to miss important details or waste time sorting through their inbox or collaboration apps.
Measure the Impact of Communication
Finally, companies should develop a system for measuring the impact of their communications. If you’re able to see how many employees take action, you see if your communication style works. You might even survey employees or collect feedback to determine what style of communication works best for them.
Kitani says, “Businesses must measure the effectiveness of their communications and eliminate or change the ones that aren’t working. As we saw from the report, too many emails go straight to trash.”
GuideSpark’s survey also dives into different categories of corporate communication, including those for training, performance, and security. IDC conducted the online survey on communication overload, with support from GuideSpark. Respondents included employees from 300 organizations in the U.S. across a broad range of industries. You can see the full report here.