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The Power of Digital Communication for Employee Engagement

Digital communication in the workplace is surprisingly not a blessing for all, because it can be perceived by some as a threat or another source of exhaustion in the workday. The challenge for employers is to recognize the power of digital communication, at the same time maintaining a positive human connection.

There is no doubt that the digital revolution has significantly impacted the way workplace communication and employee engagement are handled. For some, it appears disruptive, particularly those from older generations. But, the reality is that more than ever before, digital communication plays a vital role in promoting active engagement. 

At the same time, there is a disturbing trend that indicates a drop in employee engagement. 

According to Gallup, the decline in employee engagement in the U.S. began in 2020. After a record high ratio of 2.7-to-1 of engaged vs actively disengaged employees in 2019, the ratio dropped to 2.6-to-1 in 2020. And it has continued on a downward trend. Their latest available annual figure is 1.8-to-1 for 2022 compared with 2.1-to-1 in 2021. 

In stark contrast, Statista research published in July 2023 shows that globally, many companies increased their use of digital communication channels in 2020, primarily because of the impact of COVID. Significantly, one in three companies started using live chat and interactive voice response (IVR) for the first time. The average number of new communication channels utilized by organizations by 2020 was 3.5. They state that live chat, video, and email are the top channels in terms of increased use.  

We need to understand the importance of digital communication in the workplace as well as the role it plays in employee engagement. With this in mind, we’re going to look at the benefits of digital communication and how we can harness its power to build meaningful employee engagement. 

What the Stats Tell Us

The Statista and Gallup statistics show a rise in the adoption of digital comms adoption contrasted by a drop in engagement levels. Here are some of their findings. 

Statista’s survey was conducted online between May 8 and 12, 2021. Recognizing the importance of implementing various different communication channels to keep companies connected to their employees, asked this question: “In response to COVID 19, what digital communication channels did your organization begin using for the first time or dramatically increase use of?”   

Responses indicate that the first time use of live chat increased by 35% vs an increased use of 54%. The increased use of email was 50%, while video use increased by 48%, voice and SMS by 41%, IVR by 40%, in-app chat and social media by 38% compared to first time use of 24%, 29%, 28%, 26%, 33%, 28%, and 18% respectively. 

According to the Gallup stats, which are gleaned from quarterly surveys in 2022, the U.S. experienced its first decline in employee engagement in a decade. The stats show a drop from 36% in 2020 to 34% in 2021 and then 32% in 2022. They also highlight stats for full-time and part-time employees who are “actively disengaged.” These show that active disengagement increased by 2% from 2021 and 4% from 2020. In 2022, 18% of employees were found to be disengaged.

This makes it clear that while companies have increased their use of digital communication channels, it is not enough. They need to develop optimal strategies for using digital tools to improve employee experience and cultivate a culture of engagement. They also need to avoid the firehouse of irrelevant information.

Understanding Digital Communication

At its core, digital communication involves the transmission of information through electronic methods. These can include a variety of digital communication tools including social media, email, instant messaging, video calls, collaboration software, and other similar digital communication channels. 

When used with precision in the corporate world, these tools can become pivotal for strengthening an employee communications network. 

BetterCloud estimates that new businesses begin with 29 applications on average and have 103 by the time they are three to six years old. In fact, there are over 177 distinct SaaS apps and bespoke apps used by companies with over 1,000 workers. 

But redundancy and app fatigue result from having too many apps. Additionally, it is impossible to see the ROI of unapproved apps. Employees are prevented from performing actual work because they must regularly attend upskill training to operate the many apps.

Definition of Digital Communication in the Workplace

Digital communication in the workplace typically refers to the technologies and platforms like internal emails or employee SMS used to communicate, collaborate, and share information between colleagues, departments, and teams. Whether it's a quick message through an instant messaging platform or a more formal communique via an email template, digital means have revolutionized how we communicate in varied business settings.

Nevertheless, digital communication continues to evolve. Even though it is faster paced than ever, it has not been perfected. The question is, why? The focus has been on connectivity and then hyper-connectivity, but that in turn has resulted in a decrease in employee engagement. The fact is that unless highly relevant, people turn out the firehouse of information lobbed at them.

Importance of Digital Communication in the Workplace

Digital communications are vital in the modern workplace for a host of reasons. For example, a well-constructed infrastructure of digital internal communications can lead to better transparency. It can also result in an increased sense of belonging, and improved job satisfaction.

Writing for Forbes Advisor, New York-based technology writer, Leeron Hoory notes that effective communication curbs issues of poor or ineffective communication. It also plays a crucial role in reducing issues like increased burnout. Writing about the state of workplace communication in 2023, she quotes some alarming figures from a Forbes Advisor survey. For example, nearly 70% of employees working remotely said they had experienced burnout from using digital communication. The figure was a little lower, at 60%, when on-site employee responses were included.

A new Working from Home Around the Globe: 2023 Report shows that 67% of people employed full time work on site five days a week. While only 8% work from home all the time, the rest have adopted a hybrid work model. That means that employees are communicating face-to-face less frequently and using technology more to communicate. This is a paradigm shift that is proven by the ongoing drop in engagement. 

Threats and Opportunities of Digital Communication

While there are significant opportunities offered by digitizing workplace communications, there are also threats that cannot be ignored. Recognizing these will enable organizations to harness the benefits of digitization while minimizing the threats.

Threats include the obvious stresses related to uncertainty about job security and promotion opportunities. There’s also a threat linked to the challenge of ensuring there’s a human connection when technology takes center stage. Employees must learn to use new digitized tools, which commonly involves constant scrutiny by team leaders. They may become less autonomous because of automated routines, and work may be less flexible due to increased use of software. 

There’s a potential threat for organizations that may not be willing to invest in additional employee training. Those who do will find that increased availability of better training materials gives employees the opportunity to benefit from continuous learning. They should also have increased opportunities for more meaningful work because less worthwhile tasks can be automated. 

Another threat to employee engagement is burnout, which we’ve learned is much more common than most people think. Prevention is the answer, and an excellent precaution is to use digital time tracking tools that help employers spot early signs of burnout. This also gives team leaders the opportunity to boost employee engagement with time tracking. When employees make the extra effort, for instance achieving important goals or working overtime, management has the chance to recognize their efforts and communicate their appreciation. 

Done the right way, digitization will improve transparency, which will boost employee morale.  

What Digital Communication Tools Do Employees Prefer?

The Forbes Advisor survey mentioned above also shows which channels employees prefer for digital communication in the workplace. They include a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone system, video calls, and instant messaging. 

More than half of the respondents surveyed worked in hybrid environments. Only 20% worked on site, and 27% worked remotely. So, it stands to reason that Hybrid and remote workers use VoIP systems more than those working on site (61% vs 23% of a total 28% of respondents, the lowest percentage of all digital communication tools used.) 

Mobile phones were identified as the most effective for 38% of respondents, with 49% using them - the highest percentage of tools used. On-site, remote, and hybrid users are similar in terms of percentages (52%, 42%, 51%). 

Other digital communications tools used are Zoom (46%), Microsoft Teams (42%), Google Chat (41%), Google Meet (40%), Discard (32%), Landline (31%), and Slack (30%).

Even though relatively few respondents said they use landline phones, they were identified as being the second most effective method of workplace digital communication. 

Understanding Employee Engagement

In simple terms, employee engagement denotes the degree to which workers feel connected and committed to their jobs and the organization. In contemporary workplaces, this goes well beyond simple job satisfaction. Instead, it encapsulates how employees feel about the nature of their work, how they are managed, and their overall experience within the organization.

Additionally, engaged employees often bring a host of positive outcomes. These include higher productivity levels, better customer service, and lower turnover rates that stem from a better work-life balance. Notably, in the world of remote work, video conferencing, and employees spread across various time zones, maintaining engagement levels can be challenging yet crucial.

Benefits of Digital Communication in Workplace Engagement

Digital communication offers a wealth of benefits for workplace engagement. 

Boosting Productivity and Team Collaboration

Digital tools foster a seamless flow of information, enabling quicker decision-making and, consequently, a boost in productivity. They also provide platforms for collaboration among employees that foster a sense of team spirit and unity. 

For instance, when using tools like Google Meet, Google Voice,or Cerkl Broadcast, teams can easily work together to accomplish tasks and goals.

Connecting Remote, Deskless, and Hybrid Workers

In the era of remote work largely defined by Covid 19, digital communication tools have been a boon. They help bind together remote employees with those in the office, and promote a sense of inclusivity. Simple tools like VoIP systems and video calls can make vast geographical distances seem trivial. Also, studies show that remote workers prefer using these digital tools, resulting in more productive outcomes. This is clear from the Forbes Advisor survey mentioned earlier. 

Improving Employee Experience

Digital communications can play a pivotal role in enhancing employee experience. By fostering open communications, timely feedback, and common platforms for interaction and recognition, digital tools can help create an engaging and positive work environment. This directly impacts the overall employee experience and can make a huge difference to employee morale and productivity. 

Building a Culture of Engagement

A culture of engagement doesn’t just happen. Management and team leaders need to play a purposeful role. 

Creating a Digital Workplace Culture

Creating a culture of engagement takes more than just implementing digital communication tools. It involves building a digital workplace culture where technology is seamlessly integrated into everyday work processes to promote productivity, collaboration, and communication. But most importantly, this culture aims to improve the employee experience.

Leadership's Role in Nurturing Engagement

The role of leadership in fostering engagement cannot be understated. Leaders can use digital communication tools to encourage open communication, endorse transparent practices, and provide timely feedback. Their actions can directly shape the digital culture in an organization and in this way significantly impact employee engagement levels.

Leveraging Digital Communication Tools

The first step is to identify the best digital communication tools for the organization. The next is to use them to successfully build employee engagement.

The Role of Technology in Fostering Engagement

Technology plays a crucial role in promoting and sustaining employee engagement. Digital communication tools can create an environment that encourages collaboration, fosters innovation, and enables employees to feel more connected to their organizations. Through platforms like instant messaging or social media and the others we have mentioned, employees can share ideas, give feedback, and feel part of the workplace community.

Optimal Strategies for Using Digital Communication Tools

Digital tools should be intentionally selected and used strategically. The key is to leverage them to promote open communication, facilitate collaboration, and solicit feedback. Tools like instant messaging, including SMS, can be used for quick, informal discussions. Email, on the other hand, can be reserved for more formal, non-urgent communications or to spell out issues more specifically. This strategic use of different digital tools can enhance their impact on workplace engagement.

Harnessing the Power of Digital Communication for Enhanced Engagement

The relationship between digital communication and employee engagement should be obvious. 

By harnessing the power of digital communication tools, organizations can foster a culture of engagement, enhance the employee experience, and boost overall productivity. This, in turn, will lead to satisfied employees, better organizational outcomes, and a more positive workplace environment.

Cerkl Broadcast offers a highly effective solution to enhanced employee communication that is simplified with an easy-to-use platform for internal comms.  

Author’s Bio

Tarek Kamil is CEO and Founder of Cerkl, an AI-powered platform that elevates internal communications. As a passionate tech enthusiast and entrepreneur, Tarek strives to create innovative solutions that positively impact the digital world. With a passion for blending technology and creativity, he aims to inspire and make a difference through his ventures.


What is digital communication in the workplace?

Digital communication refers to the way we share information, discuss, and collaborate using electronic technology. Digital communication in the workplace refers specifically to the utilization of these methods in the physical workplace. 

How is digital communication effective in the workplace?

Digital communication is a great way to increase employee engagement. There is also evidence that when used effectively, it minimizes burnout, which so many employees experience. 

What are 5 examples of digital communication tools?

Five examples of digital communication tools are email, social media messaging, SMS marketing, websites, and chatbots.   

What are the types of digital communication used in today's workplace?

Common types of digital communication used internally in the workplace include mobile phones, email, real-time messaging platforms like Slack, video conferencing via the internet, and collaborative workspaces like Confluence.

Tarek Kamil

Tarek Kamil is CEO and Founder of Cerkl, an AI-powered platform that elevates internal communications. As a passionate tech enthusiast and entrepreneur, Tarek strives to create innovative solutions that positively impact the digital world. With a passion for blending technology and creativity, he aims to inspire and make a difference through his ventures.