While work-related stress is nothing new, managers might be surprised to learn that the level of sustained stress their teams experience is leading to substantial business and turnover risks. According to new research, an astounding 63% of employees today report a desire to quit their jobs. The reason? It’s not about money, opportunities for advancement, or a poor selection of snacks in the break room. In the modern-day workplace, many employees have considered quitting because of ineffective communication that interferes with their ability to do their jobs.
This new research, Dynamic Signal’s Annual State of Employee Communication and Engagement Study, uncovered an alarming increase in employee stress related to ineffective company communication. In 2019, 80% of the U.S. workforce reports feeling stressed because of poor communication. That represents an astounding 30% jump from just 1 year ago. The 63% of employees who have considered quitting as a result of this poor communication is nearly double the 33% of employees who reported similar considerations just last year.
Clearly, today’s employers have a problem—and it’s only getting worse. With unemployment at a record low right now, stressed employees are going to become former employees unless steps are taken to address the current crisis in internal communication.
What’s at Stake
Companies need to get ahead of the problem of broken employee communication before looking to respond to a possible economic downturn, the culture to retain talent, and the internal alignment to meet business goals. Companies have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage within a tight job market if they repair or replace ineffective internal communication.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, higher employee engagement translates to 24% greater worker retention, 21% higher profitability, and 17% more productivity. Likewise, Dynamic Signal’s research found that better communication is highly valued among today’s employees—even more so than larger paychecks. Consider:
- 90% of employees say good company communication is key to a positive working environment.
- Even at lower-than-ideal pay, 69% of employees would be less likely to quit if their company was more effective at communicating.
- 85% of employees consider effective communication an “employee benefit.”
How Did We Get Here?
The rising tide of employee discontent with company communication in recent years has a lot more to do with corporate protocols and systems that haven’t changed rather than with ones that have changed. Quite simply, most companies are still communicating with employees the same way they did a decade ago. At the same time, the ways in which people communicate and access information today have fundamentally changed.
Workplace posters, all-hands meetings and outdated intranets simply don’t fit with today’s on-demand, uber-personalized mobile age. Particularly as Millennials come to dominate the workplace, with Gen Zs coming in right behind them, old-school communication tools are seen as being not only archaic, but also insulting. Employees today require a steady flow of curated, personalized information in order to do their jobs effectively.
By restricting employee communication to intermittent bursts of impersonal, top-down decrees, companies are alienating a workforce that simply wants to be empowered to do their jobs better. Notably, Dynamic Signal’s recent survey found:
- 70% of employees feel overwhelmed because of broken communication methods and fragmented information.
- 78% said improving employee communication and engagement should be a higher priority for their current company.
- Most employees feel poor communication reflects strongly on their companies’ CEOs: 60% wouldn’t confidently advise keeping their CEO because of the poor communication, and 17% of employees recommend firing their CEO on these grounds.
Employers can no longer resist the call to modernize their employee communications. Today’s employees are mobile, always-on and digital to their cores. A company’s lines of communication into these individuals must be frictionless and personalized as well. Employees need to feel aligned with a company’s mission in order to ensure that everybody pulls in the same direction and maximizes his or her collective potential. The only way to achieve that is to engage employees wherever they happen to be, through the channels and devices that best suit their needs. The cost of doing nothing—in terms of both employee retention and productivity—has never been higher.
Russ Fradin is the CEO of Dynamic Signal. He is a digital media industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience in the online marketing world. He co-founded and was CEO of Adify, which was acquired by Cox in 2008, and he also co-founded SocialShield. Russ was also SVP of Business Development at Wine.com, Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at comScore, and was among the first employees at Flycast, which was acquired by CMGi in 2000. He is an active angel investor in the digital world and currently sits on a number of boards.