Organizational communication is a field of study that has been around since the 1950s. It is concerned with both formal and informal communications within and without an organization. According to the authors of "Organizational Communication: Perspectives and Trends," organizational communication can be tied to organizational effectiveness and encompasses elements like clarity, cohesion and organizational culture.
Firms that understand the value of organizational communication know that clarity is important in formal communications. Many such organizations employ public relations experts, marketing managers or directors and trainers to communicate precise messages to a desired audience. In times of conflict or crisis, these messages become even more critical. A media contact or public relations expert may need to defend a CEO who makes an insensitive remark or an entry-level employee whose actions cause public scrutiny of the company. Every organization that provides a product or service should consider whether the messages it conveys internally or externally are being received in the manner it intended.
Organizations that want to set up existing and incoming employees for long-term success should ensure there is consistency across all communication channels. In an interview with Lora Bentley, Brett Curran, vice president of governance, risk and compliance at Axentis, noted it is key for businesses to use consistent language and to keep information updated, organized and accessible to employees in a central repository. Organizations that believe in this approach will often have training manuals online or in hard copy format along with sexual harassment and other types of training that deliver uniformed messages to all employees.
Cohesion and high employee morale should be the goal of every organization. In a Forbes article, Bob Nelson, author of "1001 Ways to Reward Employees," conducted a survey of 2,400 employees across 34 companies that showed most workers desired communication, autonomy and involvement within their organizations. Considering this, organizations should pay close attention to how communication flows from upper management to lower-level employees and vice versa. Employee achievements should be recognized and celebrated to help create shared values. Requesting employee participation in decision-making builds loyalty and commitment and enhances the overall communication climate, according to professor Bruce Berger.
Organization leaders have the ability to determine and create the type of culture they want within their organizations. Leaders can verbally or textually articulate whether they want a fun, sophisticated or casual environment. Once the corporate culture has been determined, leaders will share this vision with their subordinates so that hiring ads, marketing materials and training documents reflect the type of culture they envision. Sometimes out-of-touch executives will learn about negative cultures that are emerging through employee satisfaction surveys or other feedback mechanisms. These executives can then use internal communications to chart a course for a new kind of corporate culture that will improve morale and increase productivity. Professor Bruce Berger notes that encouraging the sharing of suggestions and ideas builds trust and improves employee engagement.
- "Organizational Communication: Perspectives and Trends"; Tom D. Daniels, et al.; 2007
- IT Business Edge; Communication and Consistency Keys to Ethical Culture; Lora Bentley; August 2007
- Forbes; How to Boost Employee Morale on a Budget; Jane Applegate; August 2008
- Institute for Public Relations; Employee/Organizational Communications; Bruce K. Berger; November 2008