Nov 20, 2023 | 4 min read

From The Great Resignation to Quiet Quitting, we thought we had seen it all when it comes to workplace trends. Rapid evolution in the world of work has brought with it a rollercoaster of change for employees and organisations and, well, people are feeling it. The latest trend to emerge is called The Great Gloom. Described as increased disengagement, feelings of apathy, and a lack of connection to both their work and organisation, individuals have reported even higher levels of disengagement than during the pandemic. The frequency and kind of communication that happens in your organisation has a direct impact on the engagement, morale, and productivity of your people. In this environment, effective communication is quite literally more important than ever to prevent the systemic problems that cause The Great Gloom and jeopardise your business.

Wiley Workplace Intelligence set out to understand more about how organisations are communicating with their people and what impact it has on the workforce today. Is The Great Gloom and organisational disconnect a widespread problem? How does effective communication foster cohesive cultures and combat the disconnect inspiring the latest trend?

We surveyed 1,800 people to understand their levels of communication at work and we found that while generally people are satisfied with their team and manager communication, there is a notable disconnect with how satisfied people are with cross-functional communication between themselves and other teams.

Additionally, we found that individuals working in-person, specifically, reported lower levels of satisfaction around communication between teams than hybrid and remote employees, which points to the fact that there is more work to do around communication equity in the new world of work.

Cross-Functional Team Communication Not So Functional

Our research highlighted the discrepancy between levels of satisfaction around direct manager communication and cross-functional team communication.

My manager keeps me informed about the things I need to know 79 percent Agree  There is effective communication between teams 51percent Agree

This 28% difference illuminates an opportunity for organisations to do more work around developing effective communication between teams – especially in light of the instability around organisational change, technology advancements, and restructuring.

The interesting part is where they diverge, with in-person employees least likely to agree that there is effective communication between teams. At the beginning of the pandemic, when many organisations went fully remote, there was increased equity around how people received communication – often with mass emails, internal social media channels, etc. Now that hybrid and in-person models are re-emerging, there could be some inconsistency around how organisations are (or are not) unifying their communication efforts, with remote employees reporting the most effective communication between teams.

There is Effective Communication Between Teams (Individuals Agree) Remote: 55 percent, Office 48 percent, Hybrid 52 percent

More is Better When it Comes to Both Organisational and Manager Communication

We found that internal communications, such as mass emails and internal social media channels, are the preferred method of communication regarding organisational updates at 54%, with team meetings and town halls close behind at 52%. Taking a “more is better” approach to disseminating organisational information is perhaps the best method with margins that close. Communicating this type of information in a variety of ways ensures that everyone receives the message in a format that works best for them.

As far as information regarding an individual’s job and day-to-day role, one-on-one meetings came out on top with 63%, with email following close behind. This points to the importance of one-on-one meetings between manager and reports. That face time and individualised connection is extremely important when it comes to engaging employees and promoting psychological safety. This time can be used to make space for concerns, questions, professional development, and more. Feeling heard and understood by your manager (regardless of what level in an organisation you are) can go far to increase levels of engagement and productivity and is valuable to organisations in combatting The Great Gloom.

Communication Preferences Regarding Daily Job  1:1 meetings 63 percent  Email 52 percent Team meetings 27 percent

Manager Communication Makes a (Big!) Impact

Speaking to the important role manager communication plays on levels of engagement and satisfaction, the majority of respondents (77%) said that the amount of communication they receive from their manager positively impacts their level of engagement.

The frequency of manager communication has a positive impact on everything from loyalty and collaboration to conflict and morale. Managers can take this information and directly apply it to their people – knowing that by prioritising communication they will be making a positive impact in a variety of areas, which is not only good for well-being, but also for business.

Respondents Report Good Manager Communication Has a Positive Impact On: Collaboration 80 percent  Motivation 74 percent  Morale 74 percent  Engagement 77 percent

Overall, our greatest takeaway from this round of research is the profound impact that effective communication (or the lack thereof) can have on engagement in the workplace. Managers must take this information and ensure that they are doing the one-on-one meetings necessary to create space for their people and promote engagement, and organisations at large need to put time, energy, and resources into improving cross-functional team communication. Investing in these areas will go a long way in preventing the spreading apathy and disengagement of The Great Gloom.

The good news is that there are tools available to help organisations improve communication and connection. Leveraging assessment and facilitated learning experiences like Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors offer teams and organisations the skills and know-how needed to promote more cohesive and empathetic cultures with the potential to turn The Great Gloom into The Great Bloom.