SMEs in the UK are being beset with business communication issues between leaders and their employees. A new survey has revealed this culture of poor communication is causing a disconnect. The survey was conducted by Microsoft and YouGov, and it revealed that more than a third of people involved in SMEs cite failure to communicate effectively as their greatest cause of stress. This is greater than work-life balance, which came in at 23%, and it is causing nearly half of all workers to make decisions when they lack key information.
SMEs employ 16.6 million people in the UK, accounting for £2.2 trillion of annual turnover. The specific percentages that stated they feel their company culture doesn't support meaningful collaboration are alarming. 42% say communication in the workplace is purely social, and 20% say it is completely unproductive. Face-to-face engagement makes up around 74% of reported communication, with email coming in at 69% and phone calls at 55%.
Microsoft is recommending leaders in SMEs to ensure they deliver the appropriate mix of communication channels to encourage meaningful collaboration. SMEs are of incredible value to the UK economy, and they need to be leveraging every competitive edge that is available to them in order to attract top talent and enhance staff performance. Technology has permanently transformed the way we live, and there is technology available to SMEs that could drive collaboration and productivity.
The importance of small business
According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs make up 99.9% of the UK's business population. This accounts for three-fifths of overall employment and approximately half of the total turnover in the private sector. Around 20% operate in construction, with wholesale and retail trade and repair close behind. London has the biggest share of the business population, and SMEs are seen as having the advantage of agility, thanks to flatter hierarchies and shorter decision-making chains. But if employees feel they aren't getting all the necessary information to make decisions, this advantage means very little.
Communication tools, as the report highlights, can be a powerful solution to these issues for SMEs. Microsoft Teams, for example, is part of Microsoft Office 365, and has more than 20 million active users every day, providing a comprehensive range of tools and resources for effective communication and collaboration within an organisation. But the study reveals that the usage of these technologies is just 19%, trailing behind more outdated, traditional forms of communication. This is a missed opportunity, particularly when many leaders say they would like to have a technology platform to share information with employees more effectively.
Making the right choices
One key thing is that employees must be trained to use these programs properly. It is encouraging that 76% of employees say they are trained whenever new technology is implemented, and 55% said they feel optimistic about the future implementation of technology. It can be easy for communication to suffer when things get busy, but this is a barrier to success. By investing in solutions like Microsoft 365 and taking advantage of tools like Microsoft Teams, SMEs can boost their competitive edge and enhance productivity through communication and collaboration.
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