Corporate Communications: We can’t manage what we can’t measure
While the article below was first posted in 2017, the foundation for effective internal communication strategies still apply. I have found that all too often we only measure what feels “comfortable”. To that end, I strongly believe that we must begin to acknowledge a well-executed communication strategy as having the ability to:
1. Save money.
2. Increase productivity.
3. Increase employee retention.
4. Create a more inclusive culture.
5. Create both qualitative and quantitative data that can be applied to external communication. (e.g. Marketing and Sales).
6. Allow employees a voice in how information is shared.
7. Create room for innovative policies and practices that are able to be replicated and scaled.
8. Embrace new and emerging technologies that can be created/utilized for in-house use as well as the potential for solution-based services across the (SaaS) continuum that can be licensed/income generating.
9. Recognize effective communication strategies as equal in importance to that of Sales and Marketing.
10. Allow for enhanced communication strategies to support systemic growth that allows for the expansion of businesses of any size.
Companies with effective communication strategies have 47 percent higher returns to shareholders, more engaged employees, and less employee turnover, according to the Holmes Report “The Cost of Poor Communication”.
Conversely, the study highlights that $37 billion got lost due to employee misunderstanding or errors caused by poor communication.
But how do you know if your internal communication is at all fruitful? Go by the Drucker rule: what gets measured, gets improved.
Here are four smart ways to measure your internal communication:
1. Set the Right KPIs
Measurement begins with the right KPIs. To determine your internal communication KPIs, start with the following question: “What is it we are trying to achieve through our communication efforts?”
Answering this question will help you to align your KPIs with your organization’s business goals for the next quarter or year.
Set these KPIs only after discussions with different department heads about the key goals of the organization.
To measure communication effectively, you should set four levels of KPIs:
- Reach: How many employees are you reaching?
- Engagement: How are employees engaging with the content?
- Behaviour: What are employees doing differently?
- Impact: On performance, productivity, employee engagement, retention, etc.
If you are just beginning to measure your internal communication, start with Reach and Engagement KPIs. Once those are in place, you should begin to measure Behavior and Impact KPIs.
Track your KPIs regularly — weekly, monthly and quarterly. A review should also take place every quarter to see how KPIs are tracking against the company’s overall goals and if they need to be modified.
2. Use the Right Technology
Internal communication can be delivered through several channels. While some organizations simply use email or Slack, others rely on an intranet or use a mobile app based omnichannel platform.
Measure the effectiveness of internal communication from each of those channels. Assess which type of content works best on each channel and optimize your delivery accordingly.
In today’s world, mobile has become a far more effective channel for internal communication than other traditional channels because of its ease of use.
For instance, you might observe that content delivered through a mobile app that supports easy external sharing is generating far higher levels of engagement and proliferating external traction too.
Make sure that you invest in the right tools and an internal communication technology that makes it easy for you to measure a wide range of engagement metrics for different types of content.
3. Assess Your Content
Compelling content is the cornerstone of internal communication. It’s vital to measure the effectiveness of content from several perspectives.
- Start with Reach-based KPIs such as the number of employees who have subscribed to the company blog, number of people who have downloaded your mobile app-based communication platform, etc. Reach KPIs form the foundation of measuring Engagement KPIs.
- To measure interest, track open rates, click rates, unique page/content views, time on page/content, etc.
- To measure engagement, track likes, shares and comments that indicate understanding and acceptance of your message.
- It’s crucial to measure Behavior and Business Impact KPIs for certain types of content. An example is a leadership or sales program delivered through your internal communication channels.
Your content must be dynamic. Keep adapting and improving it based on the insights gained from measurement.
4. Survey All the Way
Surveys are important at two stages — while setting KPIs as well as while measuring results.
Surveying your senior leaders will give you vital insights about the company’s goals from the standpoint of various departments. This will help you create a holistic communication strategy and set KPIs accordingly.
Surveys are also useful for measuring some KPIs that are difficult to assess through technology — usually behavior and impact KPIs. An example of this could be measuring changes in employee engagement as a result in internal communication initiatives.
Surveys can also be used to gather qualitative ideas for improving engagement KPIs. For example, say 55 percent of your employees viewed the entire weekly briefing video. This means that 45 percent abandoned it midway.
A well-structured survey can yield valuable insights about what else employees expected from the video and how to improve similar content in the future.
Invest time to prepare worthwhile surveys. Keep questions short and to the point. Surveys that are too long or ask the wrong questions yield fewer and inaccurate responses.
According to a RingCentral Survey, 97% of employees believe that communications has a daily impact on their work. The quality of your internal communication has clear financial implications for your organization. Therefore, it’s important that you invest time to measure it regularly.