By Breanna Banford, Social Marketing Specialist, Xerox Enterprise Business Group

Recently, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review, “Changing the Conversation in Your Company.” The article explains how communication between employees has changed drastically over the years. This resulted after a variety of new innovations became accessible to companies, whether it’s internal social media networks, team worksites or improved email communications. Yet, many people say there are still challenges when it comes to employee collaboration and communication.

What are the biggest concerns I hear about?

  • Even with access to “new” internal social networks for employees to collaborate outside of email, adoption and consistent use are low. Is it a generational issue or is time management a concern? Bridging that gap is a necessity, but I don’t think anyone has come up with a perfect system yet.
  • Most people complain about getting bogged down with more email after they join their internal social networks. It’s true. It does require manual effort to monitor that platform, especially if you join groups and want to follow conversation threads. If you keep an eye on the platform daily by leaving the tab open on your browser, you won’t require email reminders and can turn off those settings.

But, what are the real issues at hand? People are strapped for time already and it takes effort to adopt new methods of communication, especially those that are unfamiliar.

  • Perhaps it’s a personal thing, but it took some time for me to get accustomed to the knowing the “best” way to reach certain colleagues. Some people never respond to an email. They want you to stop in their office and discuss ideas. Others are email champions and have a response to you within minutes after you press send.

Two men discussing a project in the office

That’s only one example. It’s clear there is a learning curve to using new communication tools and the adoption rate is often impacted by personal preference. Is that why we have so many forms of communication today. Let’s just name a few… phone calls, IM, email, internal social media networks, internal team sites, document repositories, texting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn… the list goes on. I’d say that’s communication overload. Will we ever pare that list down? It seems unlikely. Could you imagine getting rid of your corporate email system? Apparently that will be a non-issue for younger millennials and Gen-Z, who rely on different tools to communicate. They’ll be joining the workforce soon so it will be interesting to track the changes.

Either way, one important shift is the increase in transparency between different levels of employees. Whether we communicate via Twitter, over the phone or email, two-way conversations are taking place and voices are being heard. Are there ways we can better communicate and collaborate with our peers without feeling like our wires are getting crossed?