If companies want to improve their bottom lines, effective communication skills training is a good place to start. Although communication skills are often labeled “soft skills,” data suggest that effective communication skills deliver a tangible return on investment, while ineffective communication hurts the bottom line.
Here’s the importance of communication in the workplace by the numbers. Let’s start with the positive.
“Up to 90 percent of success in selling depends on your skills for establishing rapport with your prospect or customer,” says Janine Driver in her book “You Say More Than You Think.” Rapport is defined as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”
According to the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations’ report “The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence,” here’s how soft skills training directly affected the bottom lines for companies around the world:
- At L’Oreal, salespeople “selected on the basis of certain emotional competencies” sold $91,370 more than others, for a net revenue increase of about $2.5 million.
- Emotionally intelligent U.S. Air Force recruiters saved the Air Force $3 million per year.
- Insurance agents “who were very strong in at least 5 of 8 emotional competencies” sold policies with an average premium of $114,000 compared to less emotionally intelligent associates, who sold policies with an average premium of $54,000.
Customer service can make or break your company. Forbes contributor Blake Morgan writes that every experience and conversation a customer has with an employee impacts how he or she views your organization. She says it’s important to “make sure you train your agents to clean up their speech – to only communicate with purpose.”
Here’s how ignoring the importance of communication in the workplace negatively affects the bottom line.
Forbes contributor Mark Murphy writes about a recent survey his company, Leadership IQ, conducted. When asked if their leader “delivers constructive feedback that has helped to improve their performance,” only 20 percent said their leader always did, and only 23 percent said their leader frequently did.
Murphy concludes, “If you think the leaders at your company could use more skills development, giving constructive feedback would be a great place to start. Your employees’ well-being depends on it.”
A 2013 report by the Project Management Institute found that poor communication leads to project failure one-third of the time, and for every $1 billion spent on projects, $75 million is put at risk by ineffective communication.
According to 2012 research, executives consider 67 percent of meetings to be failures. Workers agree. Nearly 50 percent would rather be waiting in line at the DMV or watching paint dry than attend status meetings. Worst of all, according to a 2015 Wrike survey, 46 percent of attendees leave meetings without a clear understanding of the next action item. The estimated cost of unproductive meetings is $37 billion.
Change Management Failure
Nearly half (46 percent) of change management efforts fail during execution, according to a Robert Half Management Resources survey. The key to a successful change management effort? Communication. Tim Hird, executive director for the company, said, “Sixty-five percent of managers said that communicating clearly and frequently is the most important action to take when going through organizational change.”
The importance of communication skills in the workplace cannot be denied. Effective communication training can drive bottom-line results. While many consider communication skills to be soft skills, the data reveal tangible benefits and a positive return on investment.