This blog is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.
Internal Communication (IC) is an essential part of any organization’s success. It is the backbone of a company’s culture and its ability to drive performance, engagement, and commitment among employees. However, measuring the effectiveness of internal communication has often been ignored or considered unimportant due to various reasons such as lack of resources, time, and effort. Some leaders also struggle to see the correlation between IC and business issues. But times are changing, and businesses are measuring more than ever, making it a strategic imperative.
According to a 2023 Deloitte study, 58% of corporate affairs leaders consider data and insights to be their top area for improvement. This indicates the need for organizations to invest more in communication measurement and evaluation. The 2023 Brand Finance report, which ranks the world’s most valuable brands, also highlights that brands consistently make up 20-25% of the value of listed companies. Measurement and evaluation are crucial in helping leaders appreciate the value of brands, both internal and external.
Measuring internal communication goes beyond proving value; it is now viewed as a strategic tool to make effective decisions and guide business priorities. It helps diagnose issues, allocate resources, create programs, and take action based on insights from data analysis.
So, how can you ensure that internal communication measurement is a priority for your organization? Here are some strategies to consider:
- Set clear and SMART goals that align with the business’s priorities. For example, you could aim to enhance team outreach over the next six months by conducting six monthly meetups and engagement initiatives. Objectives could include increasing staff awareness and commitment to the organization’s purpose and goals, encouraging staff to talk positively about the company, improving brand perception and reputation, connecting staff to each other and the organization’s purpose, and increasing engagement and effectiveness in their roles.
- Identify specific audiences to engage, from skeptics to committed supporters and everyone in between. Getting everyone on board matters for successfully embedding measurement as a practice within the organization.
- Create a dashboard that brings all communication activities together, allowing stakeholders to see a comprehensive view of communication activities.
- Demonstrate the value of measurement by making it visible and inclusive. Invite stakeholders to share what they value the most, and ask what they think the organization should measure and report.
- Revisit and enhance how communication can further impact the business.
- Train “power” users of communications within business teams to be upskilled on measurement.
- Show how internal communication measurement can link to external communication and vice versa. For example, demonstrate how staff can act as ambassadors and contribute to content marketing in ways that help the brand’s reputation externally.
The Barcelona Principles 2.0 recommend focusing on measuring outcomes (awareness, knowledge, relevance, etc.) and impact (such as productivity, innovation, reputation, safety, employee retention, and innovation), not just outputs like hits, views, or likes. Approaches for measurement and evaluation include surveys, polls, focus groups, interviews, and sentiment analysis.
According to a Gartner update, most organizations do not invest enough in measurement or innovation. Organizations also tend to avoid broadcasting the value and impact of measurement and evaluation, which limits how the function is perceived.
To effectively measure and evaluate internal communication, there are a few key questions that internal communicators should consider. By answering these questions, communicators can gain valuable insights into what is working, what isn’t, and how they can improve their strategies going forward. Here are some key questions to consider:
Which channels are working well? Why?
It’s important to understand which communication channels are resonating with employees and why. This can help communicators focus their efforts on the channels that are most effective, while also identifying areas for improvement. For example, if email newsletters are consistently getting high open and click-through rates, it might make sense to invest more resources into that channel. On the other hand, if social media posts aren’t getting much engagement, it might be worth exploring other channels that might be a better fit.
Which content elements are trending? What is driving engagement?
Similarly, it’s important to understand which types of content are resonating with employees and why. This can help communicators create more engaging content in the future. For example, if videos are consistently getting more views than other types of content, it might make sense to create more video content. On the other hand, if blog posts aren’t getting much engagement, it might be worth exploring other types of content that might be more engaging.
Which type of employees are most involved? What are the drivers?
It’s also important to understand which types of employees are most engaged with internal communication, and what is driving their engagement. This can help communicators tailor their strategies to better meet the needs and interests of different employee groups. For example, if younger employees are more likely to engage with social media content, it might make sense to create more social media content targeted at that demographic.
How can internal communicators raise the profile of the function?
Finally, it’s important for internal communicators to think about how they can raise the profile of the function within the organization. This might involve highlighting the impact that internal communication has on the organization or demonstrating the value of measurement and evaluation. By showing how internal communication is contributing to the success of the organization, communicators can ensure that their function is seen as an important part of the business.
Measuring internal communication is more important than ever, and it requires a strategic approach. By setting clear goals, identifying specific audiences, creating a dashboard, demonstrating value, revisiting and enhancing communication impact, upskilling internal communication teams, and linking internal communication measurement to external communications, organizations can effectively measure the impact of internal communication and drive better results.
Aniisu K. Verghese, Ph.D., is a globally recognized communicator and Prosci® Certified Change Management Practitioner with over two decades of experience. Aniisu holds a Ph.D. in organizational communications, runs Intraskope, a boutique communication and personal branding consultancy, and is based in Krakow, Poland. His mission is to help individuals and organizations discover and develop their sweet-spot through effective communications. He is the author of Internal Communications – Insights, Practices and Models.