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How to measure internal communications

(Image credit: Image Credit: Totojang1977 / Shutterstock)

The workplace is undergoing a seismic shift. Businesses are now not only judged by their revenues or products, but also on the culture they build. The relationships companies have with their customers, the communities they have built around them and, importantly, their employees matter - a lot.

Indeed, effective internal communications have a direct correlation to employee engagement. As any HR or communications professional will tell you, relevant information and updates are what make people do their jobs better. And when people do their jobs better, the entire business or organisation becomes happier, healthier, more productive and, in turn, more profitable.

In light of these changes, CEOs and company leaders are starting to make the employee experience a key priority. 84 per cent of communicators agree that increasing employee engagement is a primary objective.

It’s no secret that mobile use, for instance, is everywhere. Recently, mobile internet usage surpassed desktop usage for the first time in history - a fact that HR and internal communicators should be using to their advantage.

By giving employees access to communications in a form that’s convenient for them, they are more likely to engage. And mobile is just one place employees already get information. Others use tablets when in the field, email at their desks, or digital signage on a warehouse floor.

Sending out employee communications through multiple channels helps guarantee delivery and engagement, so you will be able to measure what content your employees care about. You’ll have new ways of evaluating what information is most relevant, what pain points must be addressed, and how to better serve customers. In this way, what you learn from utilising multiple communications platforms can actually also help transform your intranet into a more efficient tool.

Yet, most HR and communications practitioners are not measuring the impact of their communications says Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, EMEA Managing Director at workplace communications experts SocialChorus. It’s important to look at who drives the change, and how they know if they are making an impact.

Lacking measurement strategies

Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends reports that 85 per cent of survey respondents believe people data is very important, but only 42 per cent of those respondents are ready to learn how to use the data. Unfortunately, it’s not getting much better. Why is the measurement of internal communications such a challenge for communicators? And why are so many communicators unable to overcome this challenge?

There are a few reasons behind this conundrum. Many internal communicators don’t have a measurement strategy or practice in place, and many don’t often get to choose their own technology, inheriting legacy tools that have limited or no measurement capabilities. Furthermore, without the experience or the right tools, communicators are unsure of how and what to measure.

Hands down, the best way to improve your communications is to measure its performance. And once you understand the metrics behind your internal communications, you’ll know exactly what’s working and what’s not—and ultimately how to capture the attention of all your employees.

For many internal communicators, evaluating metrics is a weak spot. In our recent Mobile now, intranet later guide (opens in new tab), we discovered that only 56 per cent of survey respondents tracked website analytics, 44 per cent looked at email clicks, and 19 per cent didn’t track metrics for employee communications at all. While more than two-thirds of internal communicators shared their metrics with their company’s executive teams, a staggering 70 per cent reported that their leaders didn’t even ask for their metrics. Internal communications data was given very little attention, and sometimes completely ignored.

If you can’t measure your communications, how can you improve it? You don’t need to be a data scientist, but you do need to learn the basics of defining your metrics for success, theorising new ideas, testing them, analysing, and then reporting those results to continually improve the important work you’re doing.

Setting clear targets

Every enterprise and every communications team are unique. Your metrics for success will be specific to your goals and situation. And this is where measurement will narrow your focus on your desired outcomes and resources. It’s imperative that you set clear targets and objectives that are also actionable to work toward improvement. There are five steps that will help you in establishing your internal communications goals:

  • Identify your company’s goals to ensure alignment. What are your company’s objectives? If you aren’t clear, interview the executive team. Be sure that you know your company-wide goals.
  • Establish objectives for your communications. Start with your current campaigns. Which channels seem to perform the best? Which employees do you need to reach most? How will you define success?
  • Review what data is available and how best to use it. Break down your campaign activities so you can plan how best to communicate and measure them. Which channels are best to use for this particular campaign? What are the metrics specific to the channel—such as clicks, views, shares, etc.? Every channel has a different metric, and so you’ll need to start to track them.
  • Determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Identify KPIs to track the progress of your initiatives in relation to company-wide objectives. A KPI must be a measurable value that demonstrates whether an enterprise is achieving its goals. For example, as a communicator, your KPIs could be increasing employee engagement by 20 per cent in a year or reducing employee attrition by 10 per cent.
  • Choose the cadence to measure success. Once you know what metrics you’re tracking, record them over a period of time either using some type of dashboard or a simple spreadsheet. By measuring and understanding the leading metrics for each channel, you’ll increase your communications’ engagement over time. You’ll be able to make informed decisions going forward, and you’ll truly be the important link between your leadership and your employees driving business goals.

As you work toward improving employee experience and driving organisational alignment, you’ll recognise what workers need to thrive. When you put your data to work, you can personalise your communications and deliver the relevancy employees seek. One-size-fits-all communications doesn’t work anymore. Employees want and expect targeted, relevant content and information coming from internal communicators. When you take steps to measure the value of communications your entire company will benefit.

Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, MD EMEA, SocialChorus (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Totojang1977 / Shutterstock

Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe is the MD EMEA at SocialChorus.