What is Upward Communication and How You Can Implement it

Last verified Jan 26, 2023

Open and transparent communication is the backbone of employee motivation, productivity, and happiness. It’s important for employees to feel like their concerns are heard, their contribution is valued and that they have a safe space to work in.

Chances are you’ve already implemented tools and processes to help streamline workflows, improve efficiency and boost productivity. Similarly, optimal workplace communication leads to better results at work and employees who want to stay around for longer. 

Companies can improve their retention rates, boost morale and create an environment that invites top-of-the-line professionals to join the business. One of the best ways to do this is to work on upward communication.

What is upward communication?

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A Brosix report shows that only 13% of employees feel like they enjoy effective communication with upper management. This is an alarming statistic, as employee communication should be at the top of a company’s to-do list when it comes to improving office culture. This is where upward communication comes in.

Upward communication is essentially the open flow of communication from employees to their upper management. This means that employees get to voice their ideas, questions, comments, suggestions, issues and more without fear of repercussion. This doesn’t mean that employees can be rude or obnoxious about these elements; it’s important to keep all communication polite and professional.

Upward vs. downward communication

There’s a distinct difference between upward and downward communication. While upward communication encourages a two-way flow of information, downward communication is top-down, from upper management to subordinates. There’s no channel for employees to voice their concerns or complaints to their superiors.

7 advantages of upward communication

There are several advantages of fostering upward communication in the workplace. Here are some of them:

Boost employee engagement and retention


If employees have an outlet for their professional concerns and ideas, they will feel safe, boosting retention. They will also want to participate and engage with company affairs knowing they’re being heard and understood.

Improve manager-employee relationship

It’s easier to work together when you can easily communicate your thoughts at any given time. Managers will find their relationships with employees improve with an open channel of communication.

Build trust and transparency

Companies that nurture open communication create a wholesome work environment with lots of transparency. Employees will know they can trust their superiors with important information and will feel more comfortable in the workplace.

Expose opportunities for improvement

Receiving constructive criticism is healthy, especially with an efficient communication system. Both managers and employees will find opportunities to learn and grow if they interact with each other.

Whether they’re working with a new online audio editor, outdated marketing software or have switched to a different CRM, employees can offer valuable feedback that can help management improve processes, productivity and, in turn, employee satisfaction.

Encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration

Imagine using office phone systems to instantly speak to your manager. Upward communication is just that easy and fosters knowledge sharing through open channels.

Drive innovation

When people communicate, they think of new and innovative ideas. Upward communication creates a wholesome space where innovation can thrive.

Improve employees' overall job satisfaction 

Employees will love their job more if they can communicate openly. This kind of upward communication will increase retention and create a satisfying and motivating work life for employees.

Employee Engagement Statistics from PostBeyond
Source: PostBeyond

How to implement upward communication in the workplace

Here are some ways in which you can successfully implement upward communication in the workplace:

Promote open communication with an open-door policy

Keep an open-door policy to make employees feel comfortable in the workplace. Upper management should encourage an open flow of information at any given time, so employees don’t feel alienated if they have to communicate something. They will feel more connected to the company if they know there’s an open-door policy in place.

Choose the right medium or channel for upward communication

Don’t limit communication to just emails or work channels. Use apps like Aircall to set up a cloud phone line if your business is big enough, allowing employees to communicate with each other. 

You can determine other channels that work in your company, such as Slack or Chats, as long as they allow open channels of communication.

Keep track of employee engagement

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Make sure you’re keeping a check on how happy your employees are. Remember, happy employees are motivated and productive. Conduct frequent check-ins and one-on-ones to keep track of their engagement. 

Encourage everyone to be approachable and receptive

Upward communication isn’t only between upper management and subordinates. It’s just as important that everyone in the company communicates with each other and is accessible.

Make the internal newsletter more personal

The company newsletter should celebrate both big and small wins, but shouldn’t be limited to only corporate news. Employees will feel special and heard if they see news and internal communication that’s more personal than formal. For example, news like promotions, marriages, and even high video game scores could be published and shared with the team.

Encourage employee participation

It’s always a good idea to conduct internal events so employees can unwind and break the ice. Informal events create a great space where employees can get together, talk openly about a lot of things and get to know each other better. This will allow them to collaborate more effectively in professional settings, too.