The next step in internal communications measurement

The next step in internal communications measurement

As 2018 approaches, we’ve been busy reviewing our communications strategies with clients and in particular, our KPIs for internal communications. Until now we’ve been measuring output, the reach of our channels and the popularity of content – and tracking the progress of these figures each month on a dashboard. This is, of course, all useful data but what does it actually say about the impact of internal communications on a business?

We’ve agreed with our clients that in order to gain a true picture of internal communication’s effectiveness, we need to also measure employees’ understanding and application of company strategy and values, opportunities for employees to make their voice heard, and their emotional connection to the business. For it is these outcomes of internal communication that feed directly into increased sales, employee retention and customer satisfaction – and bottom line growth.

Measuring the benefit of internal communication in a way that senior leaders can appreciate is notoriously difficult but annual employee engagement surveys are an excellent place to start. Many companies have been running these surveys for years, incorporating telling questions relating to understanding of company direction, two-way communication and sense of belonging that can be benchmarked against other companies and high-performing norms. In this respect, the results are just as valuable to communications departments as they are to HR.

But measurement of these aspects should not be a once-a-year activity only; it has to be in real-time to keep performance on track. Employee focus groups and quicks polls (on the intranet, by email, during town hall meetings or on an enterprise social network) are an easy way to perform a regular pulse check without bombarding employees with endless surveys to complete. In an environment of numbers, spreadsheets and graphs, we should also remember the advantage of qualitative research (interviews, feedback boxes and open survey questions) in refining strategies and tactics. We are talking about communication between people, rather than machines, after all.

Even though we’ve yet to put our plans for internal communications measurement in place, I’m feeling very positive about our maturing approach and energised for the New Year. The exercise of reviewing KPIs has certainly been a helpful reminder of the need to focus our efforts within internal communications not on the ‘quite interesting’ but what will really move our clients’ businesses forward.

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