7+ Sure Fire Ways to Promote Upward Communication in the Workplace

upward communication
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Promoting upward communication can boost company productivity and staff satisfaction. Regardless of your position within an organization, you must understand that how well you enforce and promote an upward communication influences a company’s overall success—at all levels. So to effectively communicate within an organization, employees and upper management, you need to find new and innovative communication techniques to incorporate into their business operations. 

In this article, I will go in-depth to provide valuable steps that can help you improve and promote a healthy upward communication, explain how it differs from downward communication, point out its benefits, and provide examples of upward communication in the workplace.

Key Points

  • Upward communication is the process by which lower-level employees communicate directly with senior management to provide feedback, complaints, or suggestions about the company’s day-to-day operations.
  • Upward communication sends communications from lower-level employees to upper management while downward communication sends messages from leadership to workers.
  • Examples of upward communication are focus groups, suggestion boxes, and performance reviews, among others.

Upward Communication Defined

Upward communication is the process by which lower-level employees communicate directly with senior management to provide feedback, complaints, or suggestions about the company’s day-to-day operations. Organizations are increasingly using upward communication to foster a participative work culture.

Companies that promote upward communication are better equipped to make decisions that benefit their employees.

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Suppose you’re a low-level sales representative for a wholesale manufacturing company, and you detect a problem with your employer’s website check-out procedure – the software fails and you get stuck on a loading page. You figure that this irritates customers and causes them to leave the site before making a purchase. 

Read Also: UPWARD COMMUNICATION: Definition, Examples & How to Foster in a Workplace

One option is to contact your direct supervisor via Slack and recommend improving the check-out process. Perhaps your manager likes the idea and performs a team survey to gather further solutions, which they email to the software developer. This developer makes adjustments, sales conversions double, and profitability increases by 15%.

Perhaps you are worried about how well your manager will receive your suggestions. Policies are typically developed from the top down, and leaders may see constructive comments as subordination. You choose to keep the idea to yourself. 

The first option demonstrates upward communication, a free flow of information that allows lower-level employees to communicate ideas, feedback and grievances with executives. When you use this communication style, you contribute to the organization’s success.

How to Promote Upward Communication in the Workplace

The goal of upward communication is to foster a good feedback culture among teammates and departments. Here are eight methods to develop this atmosphere. 

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1. Encourage open communication. 

Make open communication a company culture norm by having higher management actively seek feedback, holding regular collaborative meetings or brainstorming sessions with colleagues at all levels, and making yourself available to all employees.

2. Use both communication methods. 

More regular communication from management encourages employees to participate and communicate upward, thus using top-down communication to foster upward feedback. 

3. Question your leadership approach. 

Managers may have cognitive biases towards their own ideas or those of their peers with more social capital. However, democratic leaders do not choose who provides input; instead, they implement open-door practices that allow all employees to freely share feedback and participate in decision-making. 

4. Allow employees to create and share content. 

If only managers create and share content, you may encounter bottlenecks or ineffective communication silos between divisions and hierarchies. Encourage everyone to create and share documentation, such as meeting notes or templates, to ensure that information flows freely.

5. Give praise. 

Employees who believe their feedback is important are more likely to share it. They also have better mental and physical health, as well as higher motivation. Encourage children to share and appreciate their ideas, even if they do not offer the best solution. What important is that they feel safe and confident enough to express themselves. 

6. Keep it up! 

It is usual for managers to strengthen their communication strategy during a corporate crisis or nearing a deadline. Remember to keep business communication open all year, not just when necessary.

7. Invest in communication channels. 

Engagement tools and workflow apps, such as instant messaging programs, collaborative document sharing, and regular one-on-one and team member check-ins, say that teamwork is the norm. Choose channels that can be integrated; having too many work platforms might be overwhelming and reduce communication motivation. 

8. Encourage employee-generated content. 

A culture of experimentation encourages everyone in an organization to take the initiative in developing creative approaches, work templates, and ideas. When managers respond positively to both failures and successes, employees are eager to share findings that spark new ideas and create more successful policies.

To help you get started, we’ve created a FREE Checklist for Implementing Upward Communication:

Upward Communication.pdf

Benefits of Upward Communication 

How you communicate within the organization determines whether you have high employee engagement, productivity, and ultimately, profitability. Here are seven benefits of integrating upward communication into your company’s culture:

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  • Develops Mutual Trust: Mutual trust is built through open workplace communication, which gives employees the confidence to communicate their opinions and ideas. Employees in high-trust companies are 74% less stressed and 50% more productive.
  • Increases information retention: Collaboration not only strengthens personal bonds but also increases understanding. One study discovered that students who actively share information gain a stronger understanding of the subject. 
  • Improves procedures: Feedback from frontline team members assists managers and human resources (HR) experts in improving procedures, resulting in improved operational decisions. Poor judgments can devour up to 3% of annual income, limiting your company’s growth.
  • Employee recognition: Upward communication is acknowledging employees as valuable members of the team rather than cogs in the machine. This raises employee confidence and increases engagement. 
  • Picks out valuable employees: Workers who use upward communication show crucial soft skills to recruiting managers and leadership, such as initiative, motivation, and commitment, which can be valuable when looking for internal candidates or debating promotions. 
  • Provides a sense of purpose: Millennial and Generation Z employees want to be involved and value opportunities for professional development, and open communication fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.
  • Encourages better communication: Upward communication allows employees to develop their communication skills. They improve their written, verbal, and nonverbal communication as they interact through various communication channels and hierarchies.

Examples of Upward Communication 

Here are a few examples of upward communication; depending on your company’s needs, you may prefer some over others.

#1. Focus groups

An HR specialist can organize employees to discuss satisfaction levels with daily issues, management styles, and short and long-term goals. Similarly, feedback from frontline workers on new or pending policies provides useful insight to higher-level managers. 

#2. Employee satisfaction surveys

Regular surveys provide helpful feedback on new policies and projects, as well as constructive criticism of overall satisfaction with day-to-day activities. 

They encourage employees to review their experiences and provide high-level managers and HR experts with useful information for managing employee performance.

#3. Performance reviews

Performance reports enable lower-level employees to rate their manager’s performance, and vice versa. This approach shows that every person’s opinion is important and promotes growth mindsets throughout the organization. 

#4. Meetings

Whether one-on-one or in groups, regular meetings foster a work culture that encourages ideas sharing, teamwork, and open communication. 

#5. Suggestion boxes

A physical suggestion box where employees can leave written feedback or complaints for upper management to consider lets them feel comfortable airing important problems. 

Similarly, a dedicated channel on the company’s online chat platform allows for the unfettered exchange of ideas.

Obstacles to Upward Communication 

Businesses should be mindful of organizational structures that restrict upward communication. 

Here are four obstacles to overcome when implementing improved upward communication in your organization: 

#1. Fear of Speaking Up

Toxic work settings with antagonistic management, a gossip culture, and unsupportive team dynamics will undermine employees’ confidence in sharing ideas and information. 

Even if companies build upward communication channels, workplace toxicity is likely to reduce the quality of information that employees deliver.

#2. Autocratic leaders

Ego-driven managers who establish strict hierarchies, reject ideas from others, and want to lead knowledge generation will jeopardize efforts to promote upward communication. 

#3. Poor resource management

Too many communication channels and a lack of established best practices complicate employees’ communication efforts, resulting in misunderstandings and dissatisfaction. 

#4. Lack of recognition

Nobody enjoys feeling as if their efforts are going unnoticed. Employees whose ideas are regularly rejected will most likely stop sharing.

Upward vs Downward Communication

Here are the four main differences between upward and downward communication—determine what your company needs most to establish the correct balance between these two types: 

  • Communication structure: Upward communication is participatory, open, and collaborative, while downward communication is closed and directive. 
  • Direction: Upward communication sends communications from lower-level employees to upper management, and downward communication sends messages from leadership to workers. 
  • Purpose: Upward communication includes feedback, criticism, and requests. Downward communication encompasses not just these things, but also the implementation of regulations and the transmission of instructions.
  • Managerial Style: Downward communication is more authoritative, whereas upward communication flattens hierarchies and is more democratic.


Effective upward communication fosters transparency, trust, and a sense of purpose in organizations, all of which propel them forward. This strategy also gives the leadership and organizational structure that employees want to be a part of. 

Review your communication channels, managerial methods, and culture to identify ways to encourage more open communication. And, while changing the fabric of your organization’s communication style is difficult, bringing leaders, managers, and employees on board will pay off in the long run with higher engagement, empowerment, and productivity.


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