Topic: Measurement of Employee Communication Outputs and Outcomes

Author(s), Title and Publication

O’Neil, J. (2008). Measuring the impact of employee communication on employee comprehension and action: A case study of a major international firm. Public Relations Journal, 20(2).


This case study describes how a global firm planned, implemented, and evaluated a new communication strategy to increase employee productivity. In 2004 the company identified a crucial body of knowledge for employees to comprehend and subsequently support in their work. The company incorporated that knowledge into internal communication channels over the next three years. The specific objectives were to improve managerial communications, increase employees’ understanding of business goals, clarify how their work helps achieve those goals, and motivate them to take supportive actions. In 2007 the company surveyed 2,828 employees to compare communication outputs (body of company knowledge, meetings, recognition efforts, performance reviews, and listening skills) with communication outcomes (employee comprehension of the knowledge and supportive actions to achieve goals) for the year 2007 vs. 2004. The study also examined employee preferences for different information sources–the Intranet, email, newsletters, news media, and interpersonal communication with supervisors and managers.

Results of the survey showed improvements in all areas versus the 2004 baseline data. Effective organizational and managerial communications were linked to improved employee comprehension of company goals and strategies, as well as to supportive actions. The relationship between employee comprehension and the Intranet was positive, and employees preferred a combination of sources for their information needs. However, face-to-face communications with immediate supervisors, managers, and unit business leaders were valued more highly as information sources. These positive findings are tempered by the fact that the research was conducted in only one company, and the survey response rate was less than 10%.

Implications for Practice

Communicators should: 1) define and then communicate a body of company knowledge that is deemed crucial for employees to understand; 2) communicate context and rationale for company decisions, as well as the decisions themselves; 3) arm, train, and prepare work unit supervisors, managers, and business unit leaders as key information sources; and 4) use both output and outcome metrics to evaluate internal communication programs.

Location of Article

The article is available online at:

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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