Skip to content
Thoughtfarmer intranet blog
Communication and Collaboration

The effects of poor communication in business (and how to fix it)

Poor communication in the workplace can affect productivity, morale, and engagement. Learn how to address the underlying causes of poor communication and create effective internal communication within your business.

7 minute read
ThoughtFarmer Communication Workplace 1

Communication is like the heartbeat of any organization—it keeps everything running smoothly. But when communication goes awry, it’s like a wrench in the gears, disrupting the flow and causing all sorts of issues. From misunderstood emails to confusing meetings, poor communication breeds frustration and inefficiency.

Clear, honest communication builds trust and keeps everyone on the same page, leading to happier employees and better results. By tackling communication problems head-on, you can create a workplace where people feel heard, ideas flow freely, and everyone can do their best work.

In this article, we explore the causes and effects of poor communication in business, as well as tips to fix poor communication in the workplace.

What is poor communication in the workplace?

You’re at work, trying to get stuff done, but there’s this constant feeling of things not quite clicking—emails get misinterpreted, instructions are unclear, and meetings seem to go nowhere. Sound familiar? These are all signs of poor internal communication, and it’s a huge roadblock in the way of productivity and teamwork.

Poor communication within a workplace can impact morale, slow decision-making, and affect the company’s bottom line. It’s like navigating in dense fog—it obscures clarity, slows progress, and increases the risk of veering off course.

Causes of poor communication in the workplace

Poor communication takes shape in many forms and can occur at all levels of an organization, from leadership down to individual team member interactions. 

1. Ambiguity in expectations

In a Gallup 2024 poll, only 44% of employees know what’s expected of them at work. When roles, responsibilities and expectations are not clearly defined, it leads to confusion, frustration, and communication breakdowns.

2. Information overload

In a Harvard Business Review survey, 80% of respondents experienced information overload, up from 60% in 2020! With the bombardment of information coming your way 24/7, information overload can make it challenging for employees to prioritize and process essential communication effectively. 

3. Lack of clarity in messaging

Poor communication can show up when messages are not conveyed clearly and concisely. In this case, apply the KISS principle—keep it simple and avoid vague or ambiguous language, technical jargon, and convoluted explanations that can lead to misunderstandings.

4. Poor listening skills

When individuals fail to listen attentively or empathetically, important details may be missed, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. Effective communication is a two-way street that requires active listening from all parties involved—we know, it’s such a simple thing to say, but an incredibly difficult thing to master (don’t worry, we’ve shared some tips on how to fix poor communication below).

5. Cultural and language barriers

It’s no secret nowadays—companies that are more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors and more diverse teams are 87% better at making decisions. Despite all the good that a more diverse team brings, communication challenges can still arise, whether it’s different cultural norms, communication styles, or language proficiency levels.

6. Lack of feedback

We know that gathering employee feedback is really valuable (in fact, 75% of employees believe it to be the case), yet, the absence of feedback still exists in many workplaces, which leads to ongoing communication problems.

Effects of poor communication in the workplace

The causes of poor communication in the workplace impact many aspects of organizational dynamics and employee well-being. These are common results of poor internal communication, costing companies thousands of dollars and reducing employee satisfaction.

1. Decreased productivity

Unclear, incomplete, or misinterpreted messages can lead to employees wasting time seeking clarification or correcting errors, ultimately hindering progress on tasks and projects.

2. Lower morale and job satisfaction

Individuals who feel unheard, undervalued, or uninformed may become disengaged with their work, leading to decreased motivation and morale across the organization.

3. Increased conflicts and tension

Expectations that are not communicated clearly can result in conflicts, resentment, and a difficult workplace that undermines collaboration and teamwork.

4. Missed opportunities

When ideas are not effectively communicated or shared, valuable insights and opportunities for improvement or innovation can go unrecognized, limiting a company’s ability to adapt and thrive in a competitive market.

5. Costly errors and repercussions

A recent study by Grammarly and the Harris Poll estimates that U.S. businesses lose up to $1.2 trillion every year due to ineffective internal communication. Errors, omissions, or misinterpretations, can lead to financial setbacks, compliance issues, and even legal disputes that damage the company’s credibility and financial stability. A hefty price to pay for something that may seem so innocuous.

Tips for improving internal communication in the workplace

It’s clear that poor communication seriously impacts a company’s bottom line, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Create a clear path to success by integrating these 8 tips for effective internal communication in your workplace.

1. Use an intranet platform 

Modern Intranet

An intranet platform is the go-to tool for keeping everyone on the same page and ensuring that no one misses out on important updates or announcements.

An intranet is like the ultimate team chat room, making it easy for everyone to stay in the loop and work together seamlessly. An intranet platform offers centralized information hubs, collaborative spaces, instant messaging, employee directories, announcements, and many more features. 

These capabilities allow companies to streamline communication processes, foster teamwork, and ensure important information reaches employees promptly, regardless of their location or device.

2. Foster open dialogue

Encourage a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Create opportunities for team members to voice their opinions during meetings, brainstorming sessions, one-on-one discussions or employee discussion forums to create greater engagement between your employees.

3. Clarify expectations

Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations for each team member to avoid confusion and ambiguity. Provide detailed instructions, deadlines, and guidelines for projects and tasks, and be open to questions or clarifications from employees. 

Measure your company's internal communication

Learn how conduct an internal communications audit, understand your intranet analytics, and present your findings effectively.

Download now
Measuring Internal Comms

4. Practice active listening

Active listening is fundamental to any kind of communication, and it’s especially important in the workplace when misunderstandings can result in costly errors. Some suggestions include giving full attention to the speaker, maintaining eye contact, asking clarifying questions to ensure understanding, avoiding interruptions while the other person is speaking, showing empathy, and respecting the speaker’s perspective. 

5. Provide constructive feedback

Offer timely and constructive feedback to employees to help them grow and improve professionally. Focus on specific behaviors or actions, provide examples, and offer suggestions for improvement in a supportive and nonjudgmental manner.

6. Foster collaboration

Encourage collaboration and teamwork by facilitating cross-functional projects, team-building activities, and collaborative problem-solving sessions. Create opportunities for employees to work together towards common goals and share knowledge and expertise.

7. Lead by example

If you’re a leader or manager in your company, you should know that practicing effective communication habits and behaviors is essential. Are you transparent, approachable, and responsive to employee inquiries and concerns? Do you demonstrate active listening and empathy in your interactions? These are the questions to ask yourself if you want to lead your team by example.

8. Invest in training and development

If there are communication problems that are clearly impacting your business, investing in communication skills training and professional development opportunities on topics such as active listening, conflict resolution, and public speaking can help increase effective communication across your workplace.

Improving communication in the workplace with ThoughtFarmer

Simple IA

Internal communication problems are a pressing concern that demands attention. Thankfully, you can transform your organization’s communication dynamics with ThoughtFarmer’s intranet platform, which helps your employees connect, collaborate, and communicate with the company and each other.

ThoughtFarmer’s intranet solution encourages a culture of collaboration and engagement through discussion forums, project spaces, news feeds and more. Utilizing these powerful communication features helps boost employee morale and productivity, drive transparency with your business goals, and take your organization’s communication to the next level.

Ready to revolutionize communication in your workplace? Experience the power of ThoughtFarmer firsthand and transform the way your business connects, collaborates, and communicates. Contact us today and one of our intranet experts will help you explore how an intranet solution can assist your company’s goals and initiatives.