This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center
Modern organizations use a variety of communication channels to reach employees ranging from traditional media channels (e.g., printed publications, e-mails), interpersonal channels (e.g., team meetings, social gatherings), to new digital media (e.g., Yammer, Slack, Facebook, Twitter). It is critical for organizations to select the appropriate communication channels based on employees’ needs and preferences. The authors explored how the choice of internal communication channels influenced employees’ satisfaction with communication media and internal communication satisfaction. Internal communication satisfaction in this study included satisfaction with feedback, immediate superior, horizontal communication, informal communication, information about the organization, communication climate, quality communication media, and communication in meetings. Communication channels vary on richness level which depends on the ability to transmit information, handle verbal and nonverbal cues, enable immediate feedback and interactivity, and natural language and personal focus. Face-to-face communication is considered the richest channel on the richness continuum while written, non-electronic, and non-interactive messages are considered the leanest. Emails, blogs, town hall meetings, and company intranets are considered moderate media in the current study. Despite that face-to-face communication usually represents the preferred channel, employees’ choice of channels can vary by the task.
This study surveyed 1,524 employees from 10 large companies. Out of the 10 companies, four were subsidiaries or branches of multinational companies based outside of Croatia, two were Croatian based multinational companies, and four were state-owned companies. There were 55% males, and over 63% of participants had more than 11 years of experience. About 70% of participants were not part of the management.
1. Traditional media were still relevant and affected employees’ communication satisfaction more than new media.
2. Employees who used rich and moderate media reported more internal communication satisfaction.
3. The use of rich and moderate media also positively affected employees’ satisfaction with the quality of communication media.
4. Among lean media, digital newsletters, mail sent to employees’ homes, and posters had positive impacts on internal communication satisfaction and satisfaction with the quality of communication media.
Implications for practice
Organizations should 1) consider employees’ preferences when choosing internal communication channels, 2) purposefully ask employees what they think and feel about current internal communication practices, and 3) carefully incorporate new technology into daily internal communication while maintaining the use of traditional media for certain information.
Location of Article
This article is available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0363811120300539 (abstract free, purchase full article)