As E-Mail Grows, Few Companies Teach Employees How to Communicate

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<strong>Seattle &mdash; April 3</strong><br />E-mail messages and electronic newsletters rule when it comes to internal communication in organizations today, according to a recent study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). Yet information overload is a major challenge, and the situation is likely to grow worse, with few firms providing training on how to communicate better in organizations.<br /><br />Nearly 90 percent of the 510 responding organizations use e-mail/electronic newsletters to spread internal communications, outstripping face-to-face communication (75 percent), company intranets/wikis (66 percent), the telephone (54 percent) and printed newsletters (51 percent).<br /><br />&ldquo;There&rsquo;s good news and bad news here,&rdquo; said Jay Jamrog, i4cp&rsquo;s senior vice present of research. &ldquo;The good news is that e-mail is an inexpensive and flexible medium, making it the best communication option in many ways. The bad news is that it&rsquo;s also a &lsquo;thin&rsquo; medium that, the research shows, is easy to misinterpret and otherwise abuse. It&rsquo;s no wonder that information overload continues to plague a lot of organizations.&rdquo;<br /><br />When asked about the challenges they face in the area of communications, 57 percent of respondents cited information overload, second only to the problem of cross-functional communication, cited by 60 percent. The study offers no easy answer to overload. In fact, the demand for communications, at least in the HR field, is mushrooming. Of the organizations polled, 82 percent say the desire for HR communication has risen during the past two years, while just 2 percent say it has fallen.<br /><br />Despite the challenges associated with e-mail, information overload and the rising demand for communication, relatively few companies are devoting resources to teaching employees how to communicate better. Just 24 percent say their organizations offer training on internal communications.<br /><br />When asked what communication medium most effectively reaches the employee audience, e-mail and other electronic delivery methods were pegged by 64 percent of respondents, and 56 percent reported that face-to-face meetings are effective. Just 18 percent see the telephone as effective in reaching employees.<br /><br />The communication style in many organizations tends toward a combination of top-down, upward and horizontal (peer-to-peer), with 47 percent reporting they do all three. Thirty-eight percent report using a top-down style only, with just 8 percent saying the communication is upward and 7 percent favoring peer-to-peer communication.<br /><br />The Internal Communication &ldquo;Taking the Pulse&rdquo; Survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with, in March 2008.<br />

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