Have you ever wondered what the impact of poor communication looks like in the workplace? Or how many people are affected by it? We have, because we at Soocial are laser-focused on making communication as easy, clear, and effective as possible for all of our clients.
So we did some research. And what we found made us really happy that we do what we do, because statistics show that an astounding number of people are negatively impacted by poor communication in the workplace.
We’ve all had the experience of working on a project, only to have it fall apart because of communication problems between us and our coworkers. That’s why we’re so excited to share this amazing resource with you!
Here you’ll find tons of statistics about workplace communication—from how often people are misunderstood to how much time is wasted when we don’t communicate clearly, and much more! These stats can help you understand what’s going on in your workplace, so you can plan your next steps.
Workplace Communication Statistics (Editor’s Pick)
- 33% of professionals agree that communication has become more challenging in recent years.
- 96% of business leaders believe that effective communication is key to a productive remote or hybrid work environment.
- 86% of knowledge workers report experiencing communication issues at work.
- Poor communication within the workplace costs US businesses an estimated $1.2 trillion a year.
- Business leaders spend over 36 hours a week on communication.
- At 45%, online tools are the most-used channels to communicate with colleagues.
- 54% of corporate communication officers have a budget larger than $1 million.
General Workplace Communication Statistics
1. 33% of professionals agree that communication has become more challenging in 2021.
Another 26% agree that business communication (both internal and with customers) has deteriorated in the past year. This compares to the 17% who say that communication has actually gotten easier.
Positive communication experiences might be attributed to the fact that 61% of professionals started using new communication and project management tools in 2021.
2. 96% of business leaders believe that effective communication is key to a productive remote or hybrid work environment.
Want to know what leaders and employees have in common? They both wish their companies had better tools for communication.
82% of business leaders and 59% of regular employees are afraid they won’t be able to communicate effectively with remote or hybrid working models in the future. 88% of business leaders and 63% of regular employees wish their companies had better tools to help people communicate effectively.
3. 55 percent of business leaders plan to improve communication clarity by leveraging new tools.
More than half of business leaders are planning to leverage new tools to improve their company’s internal communication clarity. This is a result of the increasingly global nature of business, as well as the growing reliance on remote teams and telecommuting.
As companies continue to expand their reach, they need to stay connected with employees who may be based in different time zones and have dramatically different cultural backgrounds. These new tools are designed to help bridge that gap by making the work process easier to understand, and improving communication between workers and managers.
The report found that many business leaders believe the new tools will allow their employees to communicate more efficiently, saving time and money.
Other prominent aspects of communication that business leaders are looking to improve by utilizing new tools include:
- empathy in communication (53%),
- communication efficiency/volume (50%),
- consistency in language, style, and messaging (50%), and
- communication tone (45%).
4. 86% of business leaders report that they have a dedicated budget for communications.
That’s great news! It means that they’re on board with making an investment in communicating with their customers, employees, and other stakeholders. They know that it’s important to invest in things like newsletters, websites, email marketing, social media, and more.
After all, 86% is a pretty convincing number. Nearly 9 out of 10 of your peers are convinced that now is the time to invest in communication. It’s hard to ignore that kind of upward trend.
When it comes to the ways in which business leaders plan to spend that budget, 68% will invest in tools to facilitate more effective written communication, 66% will do so in tools that will provide more effective communication in general, while 65% are looking to introduce quality assurance or review processes to ensure communication is accurate.
5. Among business leaders, 85% are confident in their written communication abilities and 88% say the same for verbal communication.
Business leaders also report high perceived effectiveness in the written (83%) and verbal (85%) communication they receive from others. Furthermore, 82 percent of business leaders report that they communicate clearly with their direct reports, while only 68 percent of knowledge workers believe managers communicate effectively.
This is not to say that the other 14% of executives are lying about their confidence. Rather, it’s an opportunity to examine why there might be a disconnect between the expectations and perceptions of business leaders and knowledge workers when it comes to communication.
Clearly, the issue isn’t that managers aren’t trying. Everyone wants to communicate clearly and effectively. The problem could be that many leaders are so caught up in their day-to-day responsibilities, that they don’t take the time to really understand what their employees want and need to know—and how they want and need to hear it.
6. 72% of business leaders feel that their teams have a hard time communicating clearly with people outside their organization.
Whoa! Did you know that 72% of business leaders say that their employees have a hard time communicating with people outside their company?
Yet, only 45% of knowledge workers agree with that statement. This figure rises to 64% among workers in the tech industry, indicating they’re either more aware of communication issues or their industry is one facing them more often.
The days of relying on face-to-face meetings are long gone. Now, it’s all about clear and consistent communication with clients and customers via emails, texts, phone calls—you name it. And guess what? Nearly three-quarters of business leaders say their teams are struggling to achieve this! That’s a lot of missed opportunities and inefficient workflows.
7. Among knowledge workers, 73% are confident in their written communication abilities and 68% say the same for verbal communication.
Knowledge workers, however, report lower perceived effectiveness in the written and verbal communication they receive from others, at 62% and 63%, respectively.
Furthermore, equal portions of knowledge workers rate communication from professionals outside of their company (55%) as equally impactful as that of senior leaders within their own company (56%).
8. 43% of communication officers agree that COVID-19 had a very disruptive impact on their communications objectives and agenda.
In fact, a further 53% report shifts in communications focus and demand post-pandemic.
When it comes to the kind of actions they’re taking in that regard, 62% of corporate communication officers have increased their focus on employee communications, while 56% increased their use of communications technology.
At 51% of communication leaders each, increased focus on business transformation efforts and elevated/altered communication importance rank third, followed by an increase of internal partnerships (such as strategy, marketing, HR, etc.) as agreed by 47% of corporate communication officers.
9. 77% of business leaders have found their communications agenda affected by business transformation.
Social issues follow as agreed by 74% of communication leaders, while consumer demand shifts rank third at 56%.
Other forces that impact communication leaders’ agendas include talent, regulatory changes, technology transformation, and investor activism, as agreed by 38%, 33%, 25%, and 19%, respectively.
10. For 67% of communication officers, marketing communications is an integral capability when it comes to delivering their communication strategy and objectives in the upcoming period.
Employee communication and corporate positioning follow at 54% and 51%, respectively. 40% of communication officers prioritize crisis and risk management, while 30% put editorial and content development among the top areas needed to carry out their strategy.
Media relations and financial communications round the list, being the priority responsibilities to carry out objectives of 27% and 26% of communication leaders, respectively.
11. 65% of communication leaders expect partner support in marketing communications in the upcoming period.
A further 44% say the same for corporate positioning, followed by crisis and risk management at 39%. Editorial and content development as well as employee communications are among the top areas where partner support is expected for 32% of communication leaders each.
The list of top areas where communication leaders anticipate partner support in the upcoming period is rounded by media relations, communication technology, narrative development, and financial communications, at 31%, 30%, 28%, and 26%, respectively.
12. Intermediate communication officers adopt communication technologies in the most versatile way.
Creating and distributing content tailored to specific channels and audiences as well as tracking performance against business goals are the most common ways intermediate communication officers use CommsTech, at 44% each.
Stakeholder monitoring dashboards follow at 35%, while micro-targeting audiences with paid advertising and maintaining an informed and validated earned strategy rank third with 33% each. 29% of intermediate communication officers use CommsTech to develop audience personas and journey maps.
13. 39% of advanced communication officers use CommsTech for dynamic content creation and performance-based optimization.
35% use communication technology as a source of enterprise data to help formulate their business strategy, while 31% use deep learning to predict messaging and targeting opportunities. Another 30% of advanced communication officers use CommsTech to map revenue back to their activities.
Baseline communication officers, on the other hand, report limited usage of CommsTech, with 44% of them using it for measurement based on media impressions and 43% as a social media content publishing tool.
14. 98% of business leaders report that their job is easier when their colleagues communicate clearly.
Business leaders have a lot on their plates. Most executives are stretched pretty thin already; the last thing they need is to spend time deciphering unclear messages from colleagues. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, and it’s a huge barrier to getting things done efficiently.
That’s why 98% of business leaders Most business leaders recognize that clear communication makes their job easier. The same is true for 94% of knowledge workers. Furthermore, 89% of business leaders and 86% of knowledge workers say communication is one of the most underrated professional skills.
What does this mean for you? Well, it means that, at the bare minimum, you need to make sure your colleagues can understand you. But if you’re reading this and thinking: “I do communicate clearly,” then know that there’s more to being understood than just saying exactly what you mean. Getting people to listen and connect with what you’re saying is just as important as saying something understandable in the first place.
This statistic is important because it shows us how much we can be doing better at work—and in our lives in general—when we pay attention not only to the words we use but also to how we relate to other people through our communication with them.
The Cost of Poor Workplace Communication
15. Poor communication within the workplace costs US businesses an estimated $1.2 trillion a year.
Communication is key to the success of any business, but can you put a price on good communication? Yes, actually. As a result of poor communication, businesses in the United States are losing up to $1.2 trillion annually.
And it’s not just the total amount of losses that proves the adverse effects of communication breakdown. What’s more surprising is that a staggering nine out of ten businesses have experienced the negative impact of poor workplace communication.
The cost of poor communication isn’t just about lost earnings: it’s about employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and productivity. When your employees can’t communicate well with each other or your customers, they can’t do their jobs properly. When your customers struggle to communicate with your employees, they feel frustrated and taken for granted. Poor communication can also lead to low morale, which leads to high turnover rates—and that’s not just bad for the employees who leave; it’s bad for the company too. After all, it takes time and money to train new employees!
It may seem like a small thing, but the effects of poor communication are far-reaching—and expensive! But there’s good news: fixing the problem isn’t hard! You just need to make sure that everyone has access to high-quality tools and training that will help them communicate well in all situations.
16. 76% of business leaders say their company doesn’t value good communication enough.
Business leaders overwhelmingly agree that their companies underestimate the extent to which good communication practices can lead to better performance.
A further 74% say their company underestimates the cost of poor communication.
17. 45% of businesses reported increased costs as a result of poor workplace communication.
Other direct costs due to communication breakdown include missed deadlines, reported by 39% of businesses, eroded brand reputation (34%), decreased productivity (28%), and lost deals (20%). Another 35% of businesses have lost an employee due to poor internal communication.
18. 95% of people agree that businesses they deal with could use communication improvements.
A further 70% say they’ve stopped dealing with a company and moved to a competitor due to a feeling they were disorganized. Businesses, however, don’t seem to be aware of the issue, considering 26% of them rate their own communication and organization as excellent.
19. 86% of knowledge workers report experiencing communication issues at work.
At 49%, not receiving timely responses from others ranks as the top challenge, followed by communicating clearly so recipients understand the message (37%), and understanding received messages (33%).
Other communication challenges knowledge workers experience include keeping up with the frequency of communication (31%), identifying the proper tone to use in messaging (30%), and choosing the right platform or tool for communication (26%).
20. 29% of knowledge workers report having difficulties understanding their next steps or responsibilities.
Among other indirect costs of poor workplace communication, a respective third and quarter of business leaders report negative impacts on brand credibility/reputation and customer satisfaction.
Businesses with an employee turnover rate of 15% or higher were 34% more likely to say that they struggled with effective communication as a team in the past year.
21. 75% of business leaders believe that resolving miscommunications takes up too much of their time and energy.
When business leaders were asked if they thought they and their teams spent too much time and energy resolving miscommunications, an overwhelming three-quarters of them replied in the affirmative.
This figure aligns with the portions of knowledge workers and business leaders who say they experience written miscommunication at least weekly (54% and 79%, respectively).
Furthermore, business leaders estimate that their teams waste as much as 19% of their workweeks (or 7.47 hours) due to poor communication.
22. 63% of business leaders report losing time to miscommunication.
63 percent of business leaders say they lose time trying to clarify communication challenges, or asking additional questions when business partners or colleagues don’t communicate clearly.
Resolving mistakes caused by communication issues (such as missed deadlines, unsatisfactory deliverables, and the like) ranks second on the list of reasons business leaders spend time on (reported by 59% of them) while following up with colleagues on deliverables rounds the list (as reported by 52% of business leaders).
Statistics on Workplace Communication Types and Channels
23. Knowledge workers spend nearly half (19.93 hours) of the typical 40-hour working week on written communication.
At 11% (4.34 hours), the largest portion of that time goes into writing to others, closely followed by responding to written communication from others at 10% (4.05 hours).
Creating materials to be shared with others takes knowledge workers 8% of their total work time (3.27 hours), while reviewing/editing others’ materials and revising their own material each account for 7% of their time (2.98 and 2.81 hours, respectively).
Other writing tasks take up 6% (2.48 hours) of the average 40-hour workweek of knowledge workers.
24. Knowledge workers spend over 26 hours a week communicating via text or talking.
61% of knowledge workers prefer real-time communication while 55% say they communicate in real-time most of the time.
When it comes to which communication channels they spend the most time on, email ranks first at 5.3 hours, followed by virtual video meetings (4.03 hours) and text-based chat (3.35 hours).
25. As stated by 57% of knowledge workers, email is their most preferred way of communication.
Virtual video and in-person meetings follow at 40% and 38%, respectively, while text-based chat rounds the list, preferred by 29% of knowledge workers.
26. Business leaders spend over 36 hours a week on communication.
When it comes to their most-used ways to communicate, virtual video meetings rank first (5.82 hours), followed by in-person meetings and project/sales management software (5.23 and 5.06 hours, respectively).
27. At 45%, online tools are the most-used channels to communicate with colleagues.
Online tools like Slack and Zoom are followed by email, used by 30% of professionals. Face-to-face and phone communication rank last, at 12% and 6%, respectively.
Between 2020 and 2021, online tool usage for colleague communication increased by 17 percentage points (from 28% to 45%). Phone communication also noted an increase of 4 percentage points (from 2% to 6%).
On the other hand, face-to-face and email communication noted a decrease of 11 and 10 percentage points, respectively. Namely, face-to-face colleague communication dropped from 23% in 2020 to 12% in 2021, while emailing dropped from 40% in 2020 to 30% in 2021.
28. At 51%, email is the most-used client communication channel.
Online tools rank second, being the preferred client communication channel for 31% of professionals. At 7% and 5%, respectively, phone and face-to-face are the least preferred ways to communicate with clients.
Even though it still reigns supreme, the trend of emailing to communicate with clients dropped by 14 percentage points between 2020 and 2021 (from 65% to 51%).
Phone communication also noted a slight drop in the same period (from 9% to 7%), while there were no changes in trends regarding face-to-face communication.
Finally, using online tools for client communication increased by 15 percentage points between 2020 and 2021 (from 16% to 31%).
29. 82% of professionals agree they spent more time in virtual meetings in 2021 than they did in 2020.
An additional 55% of professionals also say they prefer virtual to face-to-face meetings, even though two-thirds agree they often waste time in meetings.
30. Millennial knowledge workers prefer text-based and virtual communication over in-person meetings.
Here’s how communication methods rank in order of preference for Millennial knowledge workers: virtual video meetings (45%), text-based chat (36%), phone meetings/conference calls and text messages (32% each), in-person meetings (27%), and project/sales management software (22%).
When it comes to the most preferred methods of communication for knowledge workers across all generations, virtual video meetings still rank first (40%), but they’re closely followed by in-person meetings (34%) while text-based chat ranks third (29%). Phone meetings/conference calls and text messages follow (27% and 25%, respectively), while project/sales management software again ranks last among knowledge workers overall (13%).
Workplace Communication Budgeting Statistics
31. 54% of corporate communication officers have a budget larger than $1 million.
In fact, an equal half of them either have a budget between $1 million and $4.9 million, or above $5 million. On the other side of the spectrum, 26% of corporate communication officers have a budget below half a million, while 21% can spend between $500k and $999k.
Agency and service provider fees rank second at 17%, followed by measurement and monitoring activities as well as digital marketing, at 12% each. Communications analytics account for 11% of communication leaders’ budgets, followed by multimedia content development at 10%, while 1% goes out to other expenses.
33. 55% of corporate communication leaders expect a budget increase in the current year.
Most of them (24%) expect that increase to be below 5%, while 16% estimate the communications budget increase to be within the 5%-10% bracket. 9% of corporate communication leaders expect a budget increase of 10%-15%, while only 6% of them expect that figure to exceed 15%.
34. 29% of corporate communication leaders expect a budget decrease in the current year.
11% of them estimate that decrease to be below 5%, while 7% forecast a communication budget decrease between 5% and 10%. 6% of corporate communication leaders expect a budget decrease of over 15%, while another 5% forecast that figure to be 10%-15%.
35. Functional organization is the top investment area for 89% of corporate communication leaders in the upcoming period.
Communication technology and strategy follow, prioritized by 70% and 65%, respectively.
Capabilities and process are a priority investment area for 56% of corporate communication leaders, followed by skills/training at 49%, creative resources at 43%, and governance at 34%.
A further 6% of corporate communication leaders said they’re prioritizing investment areas that don’t fall in either of these categories.
Data analytics and dashboards follow, prioritized by 49% of corporate communication leaders, while internal collaboration platforms rank third at 46%.
Paid amplification as well as content management and campaign automation systems are each prioritized by 40% of corporate communication leaders.
CRM and marketing automation follow at 39% each, then hyper-targeting tools and employee apps at 35% each.
37. 58% of communication leaders say investment justification is among the biggest challenges to increasing communication technology use.
Obstacles to increased use of technology, data, and analytics in corporate communications include:
- IT operations’ understanding of communication needs (49%);
- Teams struggling to adopt and leverage digital tools and analytics (47%);
- CommsTech responsibility being with IT and/or marketing departments (46%);
- Collaborating challenges with marketing and sales operation (42%);
- CommsTech not being a strategic priority for C-level executives (39%);
- No budget (36%);
- Decreasing budget (34%);
- Business leaders not understanding the value (34%);
- Communication leaders’ lack of knowledge of options and what should be used (34%);
- Communication leaders not fully understanding the benefits and value proposition of CommsTech (23%);
- Other (6%).
Corporate Communication Teams Statistics
38. As agreed by 79% of corporate communication officers, strategy is the most-expected responsibility within their area of work.
Investor and government relations rank second at 70%, followed by brand and corporate identity at 63% and employee communications at 62%. Communications policy and audience insights are also among the responsibilities of a corporate communications worker, as agreed by 60% of them each.
At 59% each, executive communications as well as crisis & issue management follow. Digital and social media is closely behind at 58%, followed by measuring, monitoring, and analytics at 56%.
PR and media relations as well as brand PR round the list of responsibilities of corporate communication officers, as agreed by 52% and 50% of them, respectively.
39. 46% of corporate communication officers respond to their CEOs.
Other C-level functions that communication seniors most often directly report to include COOs (19%), CMOs (16%), and CFOs (11%). The rest of corporate communication officers respond to other seniors within their organization.
The majority (43%) of communication officers operate in a centralized structure, while respective 31% and 26% have a decentralized or matrixed communication function structure.
40. At 54%, most organizations have corporate communication teams counting 5-9 employees.
Teams with 10-24 and 1-4 members follow at 19% and 15%, respectively. Corporate communication teams counting 25-99 and over 100 employees are the least common, each accounting for 6% of organizations.
When observing parameters like organization size, revenue, and corporate communications budget, team sizes vary substantially across different brackets.
For example, corporate communications teams of 1-4 members are most popular (46%) among organizations with a corresponding budget below $500k, and least popular (4%) among those that allocate over $5 million towards corporate communications.
Teams of 5-9 people are most common (78%) among organizations with a corporate communications budget between $500k and $999k, while least popular (37%) among organizations with over 5,000 employees.
Corporate communications teams with 10-24 people are most popular (34%) among organizations that allocate over $5 million for the same purpose, while least common among those with a budget under $500k.
At 8% each, teams of 25-99 people are most common among organizations with over 5,000 employees, as well as those with corporate communications budgets of $500k-999k, $1 million-$4.9 million, and over $5 million. On the other hand, teams of this size are typically not found among organizations with corporate communications budgets under $500k.
Corporate communications teams with over 100 employees are most common among organizations with over $5 million in corresponding budget allocation, while not typically found among those budgeting $500k-$999k for corporate communications.
So it’s time to wrap up. What can we say?
It matters in the workplace and it matters in the world. It helps us to be more productive, grow our businesses, and make more sales. It also helps us to avoid workplace drama, get along with others, and create a more pleasant work environment.
With everything we’ve discussed, it should be clear that communication at work is not always easy—and it doesn’t always happen overnight. Whether you’re dealing with a generational divide or just the stress of managing multiple projects at once, understanding your own communication style as well as the styles of those around you is a great way to pave a path toward more effective communication in the workplace.
The journey toward better workplace communication is one that you’ll likely spend your entire career exploring and improving. But by taking time to reflect on how you communicate with others and why, you can make real strides in being an even more effective communicator—both for yourself and for those whose lives you touch at work every day.
The importance of workplace communication is undeniable. It impacts your company culture, your bottom line, and your employees’ happiness. So be sure you’re communicating effectively—and if you find something isn’t working the way you want it to, don’t be afraid to make a change!
We hope you feel as inspired by these stats as we do. If you enjoyed reading this blog post, we encourage you to pass this on to your friends, colleagues, and loved ones.
Thanks again for reading, now get out there, and make your office a better place!
If you want to learn more about the data we used here, you can check out the sources below: