Why Most Employees Are Lonely and Underperforming

Today’s workers are lonelier than ever before resulting in a disengaged, disloyal, and disenchanted workforce. Here’s what’s causing today's loneliness and the role inclusion plays in solving it.

If you’re feeling lonely, you’re not alone.

Sixty-one percent of American adults report they are lonely, a 7 percent increase since 2018. In addition, people are making fewer friends on the job. In 1985, half of people said they had a close friend at work. By 2004, less than a third did.

Among Generation Z workers aged 18-22, 73 percent report sometimes or always feeling alone, a 4 percent increase since 2019. The next generation entering the workforce is the loneliness of any other generation.

Loneliness is a growing health concern. Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. Surgeon General, estimates loneliness can shorten a person’s life by 15 years, equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day or being obese. 

Loneliness also represents an employee engagement and retention issue as half of Millennials and 75 percent of Gen Zers have left a job because of mental health reasons, compared with 34 percent of other generations.

The Modern Causes of Loneliness

Loneliness is the absence of connections. Someone who is surrounded by people may still feel lonely. A connected world that's leaving so many feeling disconnected is counterintuitive and yet it’s our new reality.

Here are a few reasons why humanity is experiencing more loneliness than ever before.

    • Demanding Work: Today’s modern workers have a tendency to deprioritize relationships at work and instead focus on productivity and being professional.
    • Dependency Shift: Information is no longer centralized in a family member, neighbor, or coworker. Information is decentralized, empowering humanity to seek knowledge and help individually via YouTube.
    • Mobility: More mobility in where, when, and how we work has caused people to invest less in their relationships at work and in their community.
    • Technology and Social Media: Technology can reduce quality human interactions through distractions and/or by substituting lower quality online connections. Very heavy social media users are significantly more likely to feel alone, isolated, left out and without companionship.
    • Work Life Balance: If meaningful connections are reserved for outside of work, then today's always-on work culture leaves little to no time to pursue and cultivate meaningful connections. 
    • Immediacy: Today’s on-demand culture has left many people opting for swift transactional digital relationships over the delayed gratification of investing in long-term relationships

The Business Impact of Loneliness

"The trends shaping how we work – increasing use of technology, more telecommuting and the always-on work culture – are leaving Americans more stressed, less rested, spending more time on social media, and less time with friends and family," said David M. Cordani, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cigna. "For the business community, it is resulting in less engagement, less productivity, and lower retention levels."

Lonely workers are…

For organizations to create a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce, they must be mindful of worker loneliness. Since work is a profound place for people to create belonging, organizations and leaders have an unparalleled opportunity to provide people with a greater sense of acceptance, support and inclusion.

The Science of Loneliness

Humans are social creatures. We have a deep desire to be accepted, cared for and involved in meaningful community. These desires were (and continue to be) essential for our survival. Our ancestors who roamed the plains, lived in tribes where becoming separated or banished from the tribe made survival unlikely. 

This explains why loneliness creates a psychological stress state in humans. And according to Murthy, “When we are lonely for a prolonged period of time that translates to a chronic stress state which leads to higher levels of inflammation in the body which damages blood vessels, tissues, and is the root of other health problems."

Additionally, during recent experiments neuroscientists recently discovered that people who were put through an experience of exclusion, their brain would light up and it was the same part of the brain that registers physical pain. Therefore being excluded is felt biologically the same as being physically hit. Even being excluded from a group that someone doesn’t respect is still harmful and creates pain.

The Significance of Inclusion

What often drives separation, isolation and exclusion isn’t difference, but distance.

Humans aren’t that different. In fact, the three things all humans are wired to do are survive, belong and become. These items are the hidden operating system running everyone's work and personal lives.

Humans, however, can be distant. When someone else's view, perspective or behavior is unknown, unfamiliar or unexplored, distance is created. Understanding and empathy grows with proximity. Abraham Lincoln once wisely said, “I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better.”

Busyness, distractions, hostility, immaturity, ignorance, efficiency, fear and selfishness can all contribute to the distance between people. If less loneliness and greater inclusion is the goal, move towards others and close the distance between people.

A powerful sense of belonging stems from the human desire to utilize one’s strengths, gifts, or talents to make a contribution that is valued by the team. Being needed reduces the risk of social abandonment, ultimately freeing people to do higher-level work.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

How to Improve Communication With Your Remote Team

Here are three communication tips to increase productivity, empathy, and performance among a remote team.

Remote work has worked. 

Halo Top, the reduced-calorie ice cream brand, grew from $230,000 in 2013 to more than $100 million in 2018 and they achieved that growth with all 75 employees working remotely.

Remote work has to work. 

Eighty-three precent of office workers want to work from home at least one day a week, and 55 percent of employers anticipate that most of their workers will do so long after COVID-19 is not a concern. Global Workplace Analytics predicts that thirty million US employees will regularly work from home within the next two years which is six times as many as did before.

Remote work has to be worked.

Forty four percent of high-level executives are “completely confident” that their companies can maintain employee engagement during COVID conditions, but only 25% of employees feel the same. And 48 percent of high-level executives are “completely confident” they can maintain good communication between themselves and employees during the crisis, while only 28% of employees agree.

Workers won’t be returning to the same workplace they left behind. All workers will need to discover new ways to collaborate, connect, and perhaps most importantly... communicate.

Seventy-eight percent of people believe diversity and inclusion is a competitive advantage, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends research. And 69 percent of executives rate diversity and inclusion an important issue (up from 59 percent in 2014).

Today’s leading organizations and forward-thinking leaders understand that diversity and inclusion is much more than a buzz word, it's a business strategy capable of driving company performance, enhancing innovation, and engaging and retaining employees.

Inclusive leaders embrace, value, and provide a sense of belonging to all people. Inclusive leadership provides the competitive advantage necessary to outperform in today’s highly diverse and disruption-prone workplace and marketplace.

3 Ways to Improve Communication With Your Remote Team

1. Schedule Times for “Bursty” Communication

A “bursty” communication style, where ideas are communicated and responded to quickly, leads to a 24 percent performance increase among remote teams.

A remote team can cultivate burstiness by identifying a common day and time (Tuesdays from 3-4pm EST for example) where the entire team is online and prepared to engage with any team communications. Using communication channels like text, chat, or email synchronously instead of asynchronously during times of burstiness enables teams to achieve higher performance. Productivity and engagement increase when team members know someone is ready to immediately respond to their communications.

Scheduling bursts of activity is particularly important for teams distributed across different time zones or who may have varying work schedules. Burstiness differs from meetings in that there is no set agenda and the central goal is the rapid exchange of information and/or ideas.

Burstiness allows remote team members to align their activities where the result is energetic and focused collaboration.

2.Clarify the Emotional Intent of the Communication

Vague digital communications such as “Sure” or “Fine,” can leave recipients spending unproductive time and energy reading into the emotional intent behind the text. In fact, 90 percent of the time people think their emails and texts are understood be recipients but the messages are understood only 50 percent of the time. As digital communications grow, the lack of facial expressions and tone of voice leave more room for misinterpretation. For example, 60 percent of the time a two-word email or text is interpreted as sarcastic.

When the intent of a message isn’t clear, humans will fill in the gaps using a negative bias and will assume the worst. In order to avoid negative biases hijacking the intended meaning of your digital communications, clarify the emotional intent of your communications.

Here are two ways to clarify the emotional intent of your communications:

  • Use emojis. The same part of the brain that processes human faces also processes emojis. Emojis can help close the generational gap, enhance relationships and have become more prevalent at work.
  • Use more descriptive words. Instead of texting “Ok,” which can be interpreted in many different ways such as apathy, submission, passive aggressive or acceptance, consider adding more description such as “Ok, happy to follow up with the client later today.” The word “happy” removes the emotional ambiguity and clarifies the emotional intent.

3. Communicate Using Voice Only

Voice-only communication enhances emphatic accuracy. While working remotely, it’s tempting to turn on video for every interaction. However, if you want to know what someone is feeling, you might be better off just hearing their voice. In experiments, people read other people’s emotions more accurately when the room lights were turned off or when the video feed was disabled. When virtual cues are absent, people tend to focus more on the conversation content and tone of voice of the person speaking.

Additionally, deciding to turn off video during communications can allow introverts to more fully contribute. Introverts are more sensitive to stimulus and consistent eye contact or visual stimuli can be overwhelming and exhausting for them.

Video communications is very useful, especially when establishing trust with someone, however, when trust is established considering using voice-only. Next time someone asks you which video platform you prefer for the meeting, tell them audio.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

Employee Engagement Improves the Most When This Is Delivered

This is why progress is so integral to employee engagement and five ways managers can extend it to employees.

Highlight their progress

Sixty-six percent of Gen Z say gaming is their main hobby. And recently gaming outpaced cable, more 23-36-year-olds (53 percent) pay for gaming services than who pay for TV (51 percent). 

Why is gaming so engaging? It provides a sense of progress.

Gaming elements—like the progress bar/map or the story completion percentage—clearly inform players of where they started, how far they’ve come, and what’s left to accomplish. The improvement of a game character's skills or gear enhancements also contribute to a gamer's sense of progress. You don’t get a sense of progress from watching television.

Progress in meaningful work has the strongest impact on employee engagement according to Teresa Amabile, the co-author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work.

Conversely, the number one event that diminishes employee engagement is experiencing a feeling of moving backward in the work they are doing, having setbacks. The negative effect of setbacks at work can be 2-3 times greater than the positive effect of progress.

Amabile's research discovered that it’s the everyday actions of managers (and co-workers) that can make the difference in catalyzing or inhibiting progress. Yet, when Amabile surveyed 600 managers about what has the strongest impact on employee engagement, they ranked “progress” last.

There is a massive chasm between what employees need/want and what managers are delivering.

What can managers do to engage Gen Z employees?

 

  • Search for progress. "Create a climate of attention, where everyone is looking for opportunities to support one another’s progress and nourish the people who are making it,” recommends Amabile.

  • Break up goals. “Managers should break big goals down into smaller, achievable ones, so they can maximize the sense of progress that workers can experience,” says Amabile.

  • Acknowledge forward movement. Whether it’s accomplishing a small win, overcoming an obstacle, learning a new skill, achieving a breakthrough, or completing a goal, managers should recognize and reflect back to the employee their progress.

  • Meet weekly. Employees are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged at work when given meaningful weekly feedback. Weekly meetings can provide managers with a better pulse on where and when an employee is progressing (or stalling).

  • Create very specific goals. Ambiguity stalls action and inhibits progress. Replace broad goals like, “Complete the project” with specific (and smaller) goals like, "Send a one-page project overview to Landon by this Friday at noon." If an employee's goals are clear and specific, it enables them to track and celebrate their own progress which creates a more independent, productive, and engaged worker.

Progress is a key ingredient but it isn’t the full recipe for employee engagement and motivation. In order to sustain employee engagement, managers have to "nourish the human spirit by acknowledging their value and encouraging them when work gets difficult,” says Amabile.

Support people and support their progress. 

This isn’t an exotic concept, but it’s too often underestimated and overlooked. 

That should end now.

In Conclusion…

Leaders who follow these three steps will successfully address most (some more directly than others) of the questions the Gallup organization identified as being critical for assessing employee engagement.

Employee Satisfaction Assessment Questions

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

How to Be an Inclusive Leader in 6 Steps

Teams of inclusive leaders perform better. Here are six steps to become an inclusive leader and the three behaviors they must demonstrate.

Leaders who create an inclusive culture for their teams see performance increased by 17 percent, decision-making quality boosted by 20 percent, and collaboration enhanced by 29 percent.

While more and more leaders are aware of the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive culture, many don’t know how to be an inclusive leader. As a speaker on generational workplace diversity, I experience first hand the challenges leaders have grasping inclusive leadership.

In my recent article, 6 Reasons to Be an Inclusive Leader <<LINK>>, I highlight growing trends that are driving the need for inclusive leadership. Inclusion is a new capability that leaders must fold into the other timeless leadership capabilities such as influencing, effective communication, vision casting, team building, etc.

Inclusive leaders not only embrace, value, and provide a sense of belonging to individuals, but they leverage individual differences as a competitive advantage.

In order for leaders to equip themselves with an inclusive capability, there are six questions that must be answered with a virtuous and resounding, “yes."

6 Steps to Become an Inclusive Leader

1. Belief

2. Do you wholeheartedly believe everyone is created equal?

  1. Belief
    • Do you wholeheartedly believe everyone is created equal?
  2. Awareness
    • Are you aware of the conscious and unconscious biases you had (or have) towards others?
  3. Boldness
    • Are you honest with others about your shortcomings or misperceptions?
  4. Curiosity
    • Are you open to unlearning and relearning from others?
  5. Action
    • Are your behaviors and actions towards others aligned with your belief of equality?
  6. Commitment
    • Do you consistently hold yourself and others accountable to a culture of inclusion?

Inclusive behavior trumps inclusive programs.   In order to create and sustain a culture of inclusion, leaders must behave inclusively.

More specifically, employees feel included at work when they are…

  • Treated fairly
  • Appreciated for uniqueness
  • Provided a sense of belonging
  • Given decision-making voice

As a result, inclusive leaders should demonstrate these three daily behaviors...

  1. Treat every individual and group fairly
  2. Understand and value the uniqueness of individuals while including them as members of the group
  3. Tap into cognitive diversity for enhanced decision-making and risk reduction

Leaders who embrace diversity and inclusion will find themselves properly equipped to thrive in today’s increasingly diverse 21st-century workplace and marketplace.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

This Is How Generation Z Will Bypass College

Coming soon(er) to a workplace near you is Generation Z after participating in these education alternatives.

School originated to train obedient factory workers but hasn’t evolved much since then.

Coursera and the University of Phoenix paved the way for people to digitally learn from a distance. Next, traditional and leading colleges began offering online courses—sometimes for free. Then institutions allowed degrees to be completed online, for example Georgia Institute of Technology partnered with Udacity and AT&T to offer the first online Master of Science in Computer Science from an accredited university that students can earn exclusively online for a fraction of the normal cost.

But are these education changes too little too late for Generation Z who has their sights on more innovative and agile education alternatives? 

7 Ways Generation Z Will Replace a College Education

1. MissionU

MissionU is a one-year college-alternative program that has no up front costs. MissionU only gets paid once students earn at least $50,000, then students pay back 15 percent of their income for the first three years.

Each MissionU major is designed to prepare students for specific, high growth fields. Their highly specialized curriculums are developed with industry experts to give students the skills and experience they need to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow. MissionU was founded by Adam Braun, the entrepreneur who also founded the nonprofit, Pencils of Promise, that has built over 400 schools across the world.

2.Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS)

CAPS is reimagining learning. According to the CAPS website…

"The Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) programs are nationally recognized, innovative high school programs. Students fast forward into their future and are fully immersed in a professional culture, solving real world problems, using industry standard tools and are mentored by actual employers, all while receiving high school and college credit. CAPS is an example of how business, community and public education can partner to produce personalized learning experiences that educate the workforce of tomorrow, especially in high skill, high demand jobs."

Programs like CAPS are really compelling for Generation Z who is really interested in making a strong and relevant connection between what they are learning and how it will apply to their future.

UnitedHealth Group (UHG) is a company benefiting from their involvement in CAPS programs. Pat Keran, senior director of innovation at UnitedHealth Group, said, “These kids are talking about careers at a young age and we want to expose them to potential ones at UHG. We realized that the technology skills that our college students had were developed young. As we dug a little deeper, we realized that high school students would be equally as competent. So if we are going to get the same output in the end, why not get on the radar even sooner?”

The experience Generation Z derives from participating in a CAPS program is so strong that many are considering forgoing college.

3. Thiel Fellowship

The Thiel Fellowship is intended for students under the age of 23 and offers them a total of $100,000 over two years, as well as guidance and other resources, to drop out of school and pursue other work.

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported some impressive results of this “build new things instead of sitting in a classroom” effort: “64 Thiel Fellows have started 67 for-profit ventures, raised $55.4 million in angel and venture funding, published two books, created 30 apps, and 135 full-time jobs.” The Thiel Fellowship was founded by PayPal cofounder, Peter Thiel.

4. UnCollege

UnCollege aims to change the notion that going to college is the only path to success. UnCollege encourages Generation Z to get out the classroom and into the real world where they learn through experimentation, coaching, and mentors. UnCollege replaces the typical freshman year with a real world experience and is a fraction of the cost of one year at college. 

Participants spend ten weeks living abroad; another ten weeks attending workshops, networking, and building a portfolio that will impress future employers while living in San Francisco; and then twelve weeks involved in an internship putting their newly developed skills to use.

Dale Stephens is the founder and ironically a recipient of the Thiel Fellowship.

Travel, learn, and intern is a college-alternative formula Generation Z can get behind.

5. altMBA

The altMBA is an online leadership and management workshop. Founded in 2015 by bestselling author Seth Godin, the altMBA uses digital tools like Slack, WordPress, and Zoom to engage more than 100 students in an intense four-week process. 

Each session of the workshop is led by a cadre of coaches, who engage with students in individual and group work. During the workshop, each student publishes the results of the 13 assigned projects on the public altMBA site. The program is synchronous, with regular deadlines, group discussions, and face-to-face video calls. The tuition for the program is $3,850.

When Generation Z is at an age to consider an MBA, the altMBA or other options like The $100 MBA will be more prevalent and appealing to this cost conscious and digital-first generation.

6. WeWork

WeWork, the office-sharing giant, is launching a private elementary school for “conscious entrepreneurship” inside a New York City WeWork next fall.

In the pilot program, Generation Z students will spend one day a week on a farm outside of the city for hands-on experience. The rest of the time they will spend in Manhattan, where they’ll get lessons in business from both employees and entrepreneur-customers of WeWork. The founders hope the school will encourage kids to become “disruptive” as young as possible.

7. Mishmash

Generation Z will leverage their online resourcefulness to uncover the right learning platforms to level-up their know-how and skill sets. Resources like General Assembly, Lynda.com, Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, and YouTube are already giving Generation Z the learning edge to leapfrog college. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

How to Improve Communication Between Generations in the Workplace

Here are five strategies to enhance the efficiency, clarity, and quality of communication between generations at work.

Diverse teams carry diverse work and communication styles.

As a generations speaker and trainer for over a decade, I have experienced first-hand how wide the communication gap can be on multi-generational teams. 

In fact, 83 percent of Generation Z workers prefer to engage with managers in-person, yet 82 percent of managers believe their Gen Z employees prefer to communicate via instant message. Further, 57 percent of Gen Z want to receive feedback several times a week, but only 50 percent of their managers provide feedback to them that frequently.

Communicating between generations is challenging. I know you want to get it right. The following strategies should help.

5 Strategies for Communicating Between Generations

The proliferation of mobile technology and ubiquitous connectivity has created an abundance of new communication channels. Email, text, chat, video call, and social collaboration are relatively new forms of communication that didn’t exist for most of the 20th century.

The complexity of communication intensifies when multiple channels are combined with the varying communication preferences and expectations of each generation in the workforce.

1. Gain Generational Awareness

A general awareness of how each generation approaches communication is key to closing the communication gap. Keep in mind generations are clues not absolutes, but they can be big clues on how you connect and influence.

  • Baby Boomers: appreciate formal and direct communications with a preference for using face to face, phone, and email; they value background information and details.
  • Generation X: appreciate informal and flexible communications with a preference for using email, phone, text, and Facebook; they value a professional etiquette.
  • Millennials: appreciate authentic and fast communications with a preference for using text, chat, email, and Instagram; they value efficiency and a digital-first approach.
  • Generation Z: appreciate transparent and visual communications with a preference for using face to face, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok, and FaceTime; they value video, voice-command, and a mobile-only approach.

Surprisingly, over 70 percent of Gen Z want to communicate face to face at work. They will continue to weave in and out of the digital channels they are accustomed to while seeking more face-to-face encounters.

The communication gap is also exposed by how each generation uses emojis. 83 percent of Gen Z emoji users are more comfortable expressing their emotions through emojis than a phone call, compared to Millennials (71 percent), Gen X (61 percent), and Baby Boomers (53 percent).

2. Defer to the Communicatee

Use generations as clues and defer to the communication preference most widely used by that generation. 

For example, Baby Boomers who want to connect with Gen Z should not call and leave a voicemail. Instead, defer to texting or instant message. Conversely, Gen Zers who want to connect with Baby Boomers should not FaceTime or DM them on social media. Instead, defer to a phone call or face-to-face meeting.

It’s no longer about how the communicator wants to deliver the intended message but how the communicatee is most likely to consume the message. 

It’s also important to match the right channel with the type of information. 

  • Phone Call is for detailed, long, difficult, or emotional conversations.
  • Email is for brief, informative, and/or instructional information.
  • Chat is for general announcements, news, informal messages, team collaborating, and socializing.
  • Video (Zoom, FaceTime, Teams, etc.) is for long, feedback-rich, focused, emotional or difficult conversations.

3. Mirror the Communication

Respond to communications using the same channel in which it was received.

For example, if a Gen Xer receives a text from a Millennial colleague, the Gen Xer should not call the Millennial but rather mirror the communication by sending back a text.

If alternating the communication channel is a must, then take the time to recap the previous correspondence in the new communication channel.

4. Set Communication Expectations

If a team or individual hasn’t been explicit about their communication preferences, others are left guessing which of the myriad of communication channels to use and will usually default to their personal preference.

Instead, be proactive about informing others of how they can best connect with you.

For example, a Gen Z employee could mention they prefer a text over a phone call in their email signature or Slack profile. Or a Baby Boomer could mention they prefer an email over a voicemail in their voicemail recording.

Take setting expectations one step further by creating a team communication agreement.

5. Create a Team Communication Agreement

The purpose of establishing a communication agreement, is to create official guidelines that highlight the rules of how a team is to communicate with one another.

Clearly communicating about how to communicate is essential in today’s high-tech and digital work environments. A communication agreement helps to set expectations, create team buy-in, establish boundaries to protect crucial work, and streamline communication.

Ask the following questions of your multi-generational team to gain consensus and establish a communication agreement.

  • What communication challenges currently exist among the team?
    • Ex: Too much time-sensitive information is being sent via email instead of chat.
  • What is the team's most-used communication channel? Is this the most efficient channel?
    • Ex: Email is the most prevalent but a reduction in the daily number of emails would be welcomed.
  • Are there communications that need to be prioritized?
    • EX: Any communications from current or potential customers should be prioritized.
  • What type of communications are non-negotiable?
    • Ex: Monthly all-hands face-to-face or video meetings are non-negotiable in order to maintain team connections.
  • What are the expectations (said and unsaid) for response times to email, phone, text, chat, etc.? Are these expectations necessary or suitable for success?
    • Ex: Email response time expectations are 24-48 hours. If communication is needed sooner, use text or chat as the response time expectations are 15-30min.
  • How should “do not disturb” times such as vacation, evenings, deep work, etc. be handled?
    • Ex: On workdays, employees are not expected to respond after 6pm.
  • Do work schedules need to be synced to allow for tighter collaboration? If so, what are the guidelines?
    • Ex: Every Tuesday all team members are expected to be online working between 3-4pm.
  • What communication channel should be used for “emergency only?"
    • Ex: Unprompted phone calls are for emergencies only and should be treated as high-priority by all team members.
  • How are meetings to be conducted to maximize participation and efficiency?
    • Ex: More frequent but shorter meetings (15min or less) led by rotating team members.
  • What other actions are needed to improve communication efficiency and quality?
    • Ex: Out of office responders are required for any off days or times of uninterrupted work.

Consider creating a separate agreement for any external communications with clients, customers, vendors, etc.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.