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October 5, 2011

Employees Spend 17.5 Hours a Week Addressing Communications Issues

A recent global workplace study revealed that there’s roughly 17.5 hours of lost productivity a week per employee in small and medium-sized businesses—putting a high price tag on the effects of poor communication.  The survey, commissioned by Siemens Communications and SIS International Research—in eight countries, across eight different verticals—revealed the top five pain points, delays, and costs as a result of inefficient communications.

So what exactly is the cost of poor communication? It’s estimated that small and mid-sized companies lose an average of $5,246 per year, per employee, to ineffective communications. For example, if you’re a company of 100—that’s $500,000 in lost productivity in just a year’s time.

Here are the top five communications pain points identified by the survey:

  1. Unwanted communications, including low-priority calls and voicemails, is the most common pain point experienced by 77 percent of those surveyed, who cited spending two or more hours a week dealing with such communications.
  2. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they experience difficulty coordinating communication between team members, which affects the team’s ability to respond quickly to time-sensitive requests. In addition, communication coordination alone was found to consume an average of 3.7 hours per week.
  3. Sixty-eight percent of white-collar workers who participated in the survey said they spend an average of 3.5 hours a week waiting for information, which takes time away from making progress in their work.
  4. Three and a half hours is the amount of time that 74 percent of survey respondents cited as being spent handling negative comments or complaints by customers. And while an eight percent loss in productivity in itself is significant, the survey results remind us that the true cost of customer dissatisfaction is much greater.
  5. Barriers to communication is the last of the top five pain points cited by survey respondents. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed find difficulty in establishing collaboration sessions with colleagues, saying they spend an average of 3.3 hours attempting to address issues of communication inaccessibility.

The cost of ineffective communications is through the roof, as proven time and again by national and international research organizations. This time, survey results show nearly 40 percent of an employee’s work week being spent picking up after, waiting for, and attempting to have efficient communications.

Do you know the cost of ineffective communication for your team or organization, and how are you addressing it?

- David Grossman


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