Good communication lies at the heart of every successful business. Strong communication builds trust and strong relationships, increases productivity, and ensures the best business outcomes. Conversely, poor communications can have negative consequences on employees, managers, and the business as a whole. Not only does it contribute to tension and lower employee morale, it can also lead to overall financial failure. In order to help offer some insight into good and bad communications, Mitel, one of the global market leaders in enterprise and mobile communications, commissioned an independent report that helps businesses better understand how communication can affect their business and employees.
The report, entitled 2017 Workplace Productivity and Communications Technology Report and conducted by Webtorials, surveyed over 900 business professionals across North America and Western Europe. It revealed that businesses suffering from ineffective and inadequate communications and collaboration tend to lose an average of $11,000 per employee per year. These findings only underscore the importance of establishing clear communication methods and solutions in every workplace.
Do More Communication Options Make Employees Less Productive?
According to the survey, even though today’s businesses and employees have a wide range of communication options at their disposal (including face-to-face meetings, email, phone calls and conferences, video conferencing, SMS, chat, and other online collaboration tools), some companies still fail to communicate effectively and achieve their desired level of productivity.
Based on the responses from 906 business professionals across four sample groups from the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany, results show that two-thirds of the respondents’ work day (or approximately six hours out of almost nine working hours) is spent on communications-based activities.
Reading and responding to emails consumed the most time, with workers spending at least 15% (80 minutes) of their time handling emails. Face-to-face meetings followed at 14% (71 minutes); desk phone calls at 9% (49 minutes); mobile calls at 9% (46 minutes); and conference calls at 8% (42 minutes). While online collaboration, document and screen sharing at 7% (39 minutes); and chat, text, and instant message at 7% (36 minutes) did not rank as high as the other modes of communication, they still accounted for nearly an hour per day.
After respondents defined how much time they usually spent on various communication tasks, Webtorials asked the survey participants to rate the efficiency of these tasks on a sliding scale:
- Totally efficient, no wasted time (100 percent);
- Almost totally efficient, very little wasted time (90 percent);
- Fairly efficient, but some wasted time (75 percent);
- Not very efficient, lots of wasted time (50 percent);
- Inefficient, lots of wasted time (25 percent);
- Total waste of time (0 percent).
Surprisingly, the results show that respondents did not see large degrees of differences in the level of efficiency among the various modes of communication. In fact, the difference between the most efficient (81%) and least efficient (75%) method of communication is actually only 6 points. Webtorials identified two main reasons for this difference:
- Inefficiency stems from not using the optimal communications mode for the task at hand - “For instance, email often is used for a ‘chat’ with a barrage of short messages,” the report read. “And while email is great for documenting conversations and including a large number of participants in a conversation, the ability to copy a large group of people on a conversation cal also lead to inefficiency.”
- Lack of separation between personal and work communications - Another factor that leads to inefficiency is that for almost all forms of communication, users may have the tendency to combined work-related and personal messaging.
The Price Companies Pay for Poor Communications
So what is the tangible cost of having poor communication practices and systems in the workplace? Based on the calculation and analysis by Webtorials, inefficient methods of communication costs businesses more than $15,000 per employee per year. Here’s how they arrived at their conclusion:
Researchers used the respondents’ annual salaries in conjunction with the average hours they worked each week. Respondents worked an average of 43.96 hours each week; while the average worker salary (exclusive of benefits) was $75, 888.
Citing reports from both MIT and the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, Webtorials then multiplied the average salary by 1.4 to know the true cost of each employee to their company: $106,242.63 on average per year.
The average working hours was 43.96 hours. With a five-day work week, employees spend 8.8 hours at work per day. However, workers spend 6.03 hours on communications and collaboration tasks each day, which is 68.6% of their time. Based on the actual cost, this is $72,929.22 per year.
However, of the communications 6.03 hours, workers also lose 1.26 hours due to inefficiencies, or 20.9 percent. “Based on the actual cost of this time, the time lost due to inefficiencies is $15,185.37 per employee,” the report said.
The researchers also noted that the typical business for which the respondents work for has an average of 3460 employees. This only means that the typical company is losing a whopping $52,541,380.96 each year due to inefficient communication methods.
Bob Agnes, the EVP & President of Enterprise Division at Mitel, expressed his thoughts on the report findings, stating:
“This study underscores the alarming cost of poor communications and collaboration, and how companies of all sizes are artificially constrained by the very tools that were intended to improve their ability to be productive. By leveraging professional-grade, yet flexible, technologies for voice, video and chat needs, Mitel can help businesses establish their best path forward so the whole of an organization can work as one.”
Steven Taylor, the founder and CEO at Webtorials, also shared the same sentiments:
“For a company with 500 employees, as an example, the typical cost of inefficient communications is well over $5 million (USD) per year as outlined in our report. While there is no communications and collaboration infrastructure that can recover all of this expense, a careful examination of methods and systems can have an immense payoff in potentially recouping millions of dollars.”
What Companies Must Do
Given these findings, all companies (regardless of their size and industry) must take a closer look at the communication methods and solutions they have deployed in their organization. Simply providing employees with access to numerous advanced communication tools is no longer enough; companies must also find ways to ensure that the methods and solutions they have in place are indeed practical, useful, and effective to their organization. Or else they risk losing not only their employees or customers but also millions of dollars each year.
See the full report to learn more about how inefficient communications impact the bottom line.
Mitel is a trusted leader and innovator in the enterprise communications space, serving more than 60 million business users in more than 100 countries around the globe. With their robust and flexible communication solutions and services, Mitel helps businesses connect and collaborate more effectively. Their range of products includes MiCloud Communications, MiContact Center, MiCollab, MiVoice, mobile products, as well as business phones.