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The perils of employee over-communication

Listen to our full interview with Cord Himelstein on Engage Your Tribe:

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In the age of remote work, we might assume that there’s no such thing as over-communicating with employees. The more content disseminated through more channels, the better! After all, how else can leaders and managers make sure that all of their people are being engaged?

But in reality, the opposite is usually the case. Past a certain point, too much communication can overwhelm your audience and cause them to disengage.

“We’re all inundated with email, Zoom, lack, and since the pandemic, the problem has been compounded,” says Cord Himelstein, VP of digital marketing at HALO, a leading employee engagement firm. “You need to understand what channels are the most effective for certain communication, rather than blasting out the same message across all of them.”

And when you don’t take the time to segment your audience, whether internal or external, and tailor communications to specific audience sub-groups in coordination with other internal communications and departments, Himelstein says, it becomes even more difficult to cut through the noise and achieve true engagement.

“It’s important to know where your audiences are going to be best engaged, and everybody’s different,” Himelstein says. “Organizations really need to find that out for themselves rather than just saying, ‘We’ll send an email, and put it on Slack, and then put it on the intranet and send a follow-up email to make sure everybody’ seen the information.”

Himelstein published an article in Forbes on the topic, offering tips for how to avoid the “firehose” approach of blasting information at your audience through every possible channel at once. One of his tips, which we discussed on Engage Your Tribe, is having a deep understanding of your audience and being “present” when trying to engage a particular audience, especially on Zoom and other video chat platforms. Being present, for Himelstein, means “actively listening,” which requires not only paying close attention to what other people are saying but demonstrating that you’re paying attention. And that means not checking email or looking at Facebook. It also means not just biding your time until it’s your turn to talk, even if you have something important to share.

That sort of close, attentive listening is a learned skill, and it takes time to develop in any context. On Zoom, with unlimited distractions only a click away, it’s even more difficult. But it’s essential if your goal is to not merely parcel out information and talk at your audience but to engage them in a real discussion wherein you spend more time listening than talking.

Check out Himelstein’s article in Forbes to get all of his tips.

And be sure to connect with Cord on LinkedIn.