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Nov 28, 2019

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How to Measure Internal Communication (IC): Best Practices & Examples

Measuring the performance of internal communication is essential when it comes to building a successful business. But what KPIs to use and how to...

how-to-measure-internal-communication

Measuring the performance of internal communication is essential when it comes to building a successful business. But what KPIs to use and how to track them?

Measuring the effectiveness of internal communication is critical for any IC practitioner.

It’s a great way to prove the value of internal communication and be recognized as strategic business partners.

But most importantly, it’s the only way to understand how internal communication supports the business’s growth.

🎬 Join our upcoming webinar "6½ M&A Secrets: A Chat With Internal Comms" where we'll discuss the importance of communicating with employees when the organization is going under important changes such as mergers or acquisitions!

However, tracking the success of internal communication is quite complex and the stats speak for themselves: 60% of IC practitioners are still not measuring internal communication.

And it’s quite tricky to build a robust IC strategy without any measurement: just 14% of internal communicators have a strategy in place to describe their internal audiences and 29% have a written value proposition for internal communication.

best-practices-for-measuring-internal-communicationThe thing is, there’s no unique way to measure internal communication.

IC practitioners track the success of their strategy in different ways as the methodology depends on the company’s goals.

Indeed, one of their top priorities is to build an internal communication that supports the business's strategy.

We share in this blog post tips and tricks to help you identify what KPIs to use to measure the success of your internal communication.

Are you ready? Let’s dive in! 🔥

Measuring Internal Communication Is Key to Building a Successful Business

Internal communication has a great impact on employee productivity, cross-departmental collaboration, employee motivation, employee engagement, and organizational alignment.

In other words, your internal communication is the cornerstone of your business overall!

Related: Internal Communication: Definition, Challenges and Top Reasons Why It’s More Important than Ever

If you notice that your employees aren’t engaged, don’t effectively collaborate, or are not aligned with the company’s vision, one of the first things you may want to take a look at is your internal communication!

And to improve your IC strategy, you’ll first need to measure it.

Think about it: how can you improve your internal communication or even make IC-related decisions if you don’t have any data that would help you understand what is working well and what needs to be improved?

Most businesses consider internal communication as one of their top priorities:

 

Yet, 66% of IC practitioners don’t check dashboards or reports to track the performance of their strategy on a regular basis.

What’s more, most leaders don’t even ask for their metrics. That’s quite alarming, isn’t it?

Even though measuring the effectiveness of internal communication is the key to running a successful business, IC metrics remain ignored in most businesses.

Sales teams track their activities, the meetings they book, the opportunities they create and the revenue they bring.

Marketing track the website traffic they generate, the inbound leads they create, the number of webinar registrants or newsletter subscribers they generate.

Tech teams have their own KPIs as well such as project delivery time, ticket resolution time, speed index or user error rates.

But when it comes to internal communication, tracking the results becomes a pain point in most businesses.

Jenni Field on the importance of measuring internal communicationIC reports become to-do lists and most internal communicators lack data to assess their strategy.

This lack of internal communication data and metrics is connected with the following problems most businesses are facing:

1. IC metrics are scattered across several departments, platforms and channels within the organization

Most IC practitioners use different tools to track newsletter open rates, Intranet metrics, and employee engagement.

Most of the time, they don’t track all their KPIs in one dashboard, which makes it challenging to keep up with the metrics and share them internally.

2. The internal comms KPIs are not aligned with the business goals

When it comes to internal communication, you need to think of the business’s goals and bottom line first.

Indeed, your role as an IC practitioner is to build an internal comms strategy that helps everyone in the organization to reach their targets and contribute to the business’s success. Without data, it’s challenging to know how your IC strategy supports the business’s strategy overall.

Related: 8 Reasons Why Internal Communication Is the Key to Organizational Alignment

3. Internal communicators can’t take their strategy to the next level

Without data, identifying where the communication bottlenecks are within the organization becomes an extremely difficult job.

Why is the current strategy not working? Is it because the content shared with the employees is not engaging? Is it because the communication channels used within the organization aren’t the right ones? Are the messages shared with the employees clear enough?

4. Messages shared with employees become unclear and inconsistent

Without data, you can’t assess your current internal communication strategy. You can’t ensure that all your employees — office-based and remote — get your message, understand it, and believe in it.

As a result, aligning all your employees with the company’s strategy becomes a real nightmare!

5. There are misconceptions around what internal communication does

Without data-driven reports, it’s difficult for top management and other functions within the organization to understand what IC practitioners are working on and how they’re impacting the business’s success overall.

Related: 18 Challenges that Internal Communication Professionals Are Facing Today

6. Proving the value of internal communication becomes a challenge

When you don't have the data you need to backup your strategy, it becomes difficult to show the impacts of their strategy on the business’s bottom line.

As a result, they keep coping with low budgets and struggle to make the case for internal communication.

Related: Sue Dewhurst on How to Make the Case for Internal Communications (IC)

7. Internal communicators are not considered as strategic business partners

In most companies, internal communicators are considered tactical rather than strategic business partners which makes it even more challenging for them to actually prove the value of internal communication.

Internal communication practitioners need to be more data-driven so the way they’re perceived in the organization can change.

Setting the Right KPIs for Your Internal Communication Strategy

Now, the question is: how to measure internal communication?

The answer to that question is not that simple. There is no list of standardized KPIs that any business can apply to measure their internal communication.

The real question here is: what are the business goals?

Indeed, the KPIs you’re going to track will depend on the goals you want to achieve at your organization and what you’re going to do with the data.

Once you have a clear understanding of the goals you want to achieve with your internal communication, it gets much easier to pick the right internal comms KPIs for your organization.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do we want to use internal communication to improve employee productivity?
  • Is communicating the brand message to the employees one of our top priorities?
  • Do we want internal communication to drive a culture of engagement?
  • What about employee empowerment?
  • Do we want IC to help better connect and engage with our employees?
  • Do we want internal communication to improve retention rates?
  • Do we want our IC strategy to drive employee experience?

In “Successful Employee Communications”, Sue Dewhurst and Liam Fitzpatrick advise IC practitioners to measure five areas of their internal communication:

1. Inputs:  what resources are you using to develop and implement your internal communication? Are these resources effectively allocated?

2. Outputs: is the content shared informative? Is it engaging? Does it reflect your message? Did you achieve the results you originally planned to achieve with your internal communication? If not, why? Did your employees take part in the discussion, have you managed to drive employee engagement?

3. Satisfaction: are your employees happy with your internal communication? Did they understand your message, do they believe in it? Did they receive the information they needed on time? Did they feel overwhelmed with too much information? Did they get a chance to share their insights?

4. Out-takes: did your employees hear your message, what are the takeaways?
 
5. Outcomes: did your internal communication have any impact on your employees’ behaviors? Are they working toward a common goal? Is their behavior impacting the business’ bottom line?

Make Sure You Include SMART Goals in Your Internal Communication Strategy

When it comes to measuring the success of your internal communication, the key is to make your goals SMART.

As a reminder, SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely:

Set SMART goals to measure the success of your internal communication

1. Specific: your internal communication goals should be clear and simple. It should be easy for you to answer the 5 W questions: who, what, where, when, why.

If you can’t answer these questions easily, you may then want to reconsider the goals you’ve originally set.

Let’s take an example here. If your goal is to “increase employee engagement in the workplace”, then it is not specific enough.

Instead, your goal should be something like “increasing employee engagement within the tech team by 15% by the end of Q1 so we can launch your product in Q2, as originally planned.'' Sounds much more specific, doesn’t it?

2. Measurable: setting specific goals is a good start, but you need to make sure that you have the resources you need — including the right methodology and tools — to measure them. Do you have a solution in place to track whether your employees read your messages and engage with your content?

3. Achievable: your communication goals have to be achievable. That doesn’t mean that you have to be conservative with your goals. Instead, it means that you need to set realistic goals based on the resources you have.

If your goal is to increase employee engagement within the tech team by 15% by the end of Q1, assess the current level of engagement within the team and take it from there.

When it comes to setting internal communication goals, don’t trust your gut feeling! Assess your current strategy and set new objectives that are more realistic if needed.

4. Relevant: Your internal communication goals have to be aligned with your company’s long-term vision. If you want your IC strategy to be accountable, you need to look at how your IC goals fit in with the company’s overall vision and strategy.

Also, keep in mind that your goals should have a direct impact on your employees’ performance and behavior.

5. Timely: you need to set specific deadlines to achieve your internal communication goals. Otherwise, you may not stick to them!

The risk here — if you don’t set specific deadlines — is to keep postponing the actions you need to take to achieve your communication goals.

Building a great internal communication takes time and effort, so you need to commit to specific deadlines!

Related: 4 Smart Ways to Measure Your Internal Communication

Examples of KPIs that Will Help You Measure the Success of Your Internal Communication

As explained earlier, there is no unique way to measure internal communication. The KPIs you’re going to track will depend on the business goals overall.

Even businesses with similar internal structures and operating in the same industry have different ways to measure their internal communication.

Since the KPIs you set to evaluate your internal communication depend on the business goal, let’s take an example here. Let’s suppose that your organization is going under a merger that involves significant restructuring and leadership changes.

Measuring Internal Communication During a Merger

As we know, communication is highly critical in change management, especially during a merger or an acquisition.

As most businesses go under important changes such as a merger or an acquisition at some point, more and more IC practitioners are looking into M&A communication.

When an organization is undergoing important changes such as a merger or an acquisition, employees may get confused and worried about their jobs. They’ll have lots of questions and worries. “To what extent is the merger or the acquisition going to change the structure of the company?” “Is top management going to remain the same” “Are the corporate values going to evolve? If so, how?” “Are the teams going to change?” “What about my job?”.

Related: Mergers & Acquisitions: the Importance of Internal Communications

As an IC practitioner, your mission is to support the business goals. During a merger, key business goals could be for example to align employees with the new company strategy and make sure the merger is a success.

So, how are you going to track the success of your internal communication?

We share below examples of KPIs you may want to track to measure the performance of your internal communication during a merger:

1. Employee Reach


M&A communication is particularly challenging as you need to communicate the restructuring plan and the new strategy with your entire workforce in a short space of time.

Do you manage to successfully reach your employees? All of them? What’s more, do you reach them on time? How many of your employees read your messages? Do they receive your messages right away? Do they have the feeling they’re missing out on important information regarding the merger?

Identifying whether you manage to reach your entire workforce with the right messages is critical during a merger.

Think about it: overall, most employees have the feeling they’re missing out on important information. Poor communication may harm your business. It may even cause the merger to fail.

what are the best ways to measure internal communicationTo find out whether your internal communication allows you to successfully reach your employees during a merger, you may want to track the reads your content has generated.

Tracking the views your content generates is essential, and it’s even more critical during a merger. Yet, 41% of internal communication practitioners have no way of tracking user activity or making sure that content uploaded to their internal communication platforms is read by employees.

But tracking company-wide reads won’t help you that much. Mergers involve complex changes and many stakeholders. Not all teams will be impacted the same way by the merger.

The key is to take all these elements into account by launching an internal communication campaign during the merger where you can track and analyze reads by department, team and even location.

That way you get a better understanding of what content works well, who’s reading it and who’s isn’t.

For example, if you notice a correlation between the amount of views and the location — let’s say that the metrics show you that most employees working in plants don’t read your content — you can then investigate to understand the reasons why they don’t read your content.

There can be many different reasons why your employees working in plants wouldn’t read your messages during a merger. Maybe it’s because you’re not using engaging content, you’re not communicating through the right channels, you haven’t effectively communicated the importance of reading your content related to the merger, or maybe it’s simply because your employees ignore your messages.

If you find out for example that your employees don’t read your messages because they would rather watch a video than read reports, you can then turn the reports you’ve shared with them into a video or a series of shorter videos, share these videos with them, track the views you’ve generated by department, team and location, and compare the results with the previous ones.

When you deep dive into the views your content has generated by filtering them out by team, department and location, you already get a better understanding of the communication bottlenecks your organization is facing during the merger.

2. Readability of Your Messages

Sharing on time the information your employees need is a good start, but that’s not enough to ensure the success of the merger.

The next step consists of understanding whether your employees understand the messages you’ve shared with them during the merger.

One of the best ways to do so is to listen to your employees and conduct surveys to collect their feedback.

More specifically, you can combine two different types of surveys:

Pulse Surveys

This type of survey gives you a great insight into the way employees react to your messages. It’s an easy way to find out whether they understand your message and believe in it.

You can use pulse surveys before, during and right after the merger so you get a better understanding of the success of your M&A communication.

The key here is to survey all your employees so you can evaluate your internal communication at all levels of the organization.

Include in your surveys a good mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions and ask your employees to rate your internal communication on specific aspects of the merger as well.

Sample Surveys or Focus Groups

Conducting sample surveys or arranging focus groups is particularly interesting to measure the effectiveness of your internal communication during a merger. Indeed, this kind of initiative can be easily implemented, and it allows you to move quickly during change.

Keep in mind that with this type of initiative, you’re going to deliberately survey a small group of employees from different departments.

Make sure that your focus group represents the demographics of the organization so the results you get from it are accurate.

A focus group or a sample survey won’t help you understand how different teams may feel about the merger, but it helps you collect employee feedback in an easy way so you can quickly adjust your internal communication. Remember that time is critical during a merger!

3. Employee Engagement

If you want to measure the success of your internal communication during a merger, one of the metrics you can’t ignore is employee engagement.

Do your employees react to the messages you share with them? If so, what kind of reaction do they have? Do they engage with your content and messages? Do they ask questions about the merger or share their thoughts? How do they feel about the merger overall and the impacts of it on their daily jobs?

Related: How Your Internal Communications Can Boost Employee Engagement at Your Workplace

To find out whether your employees engage with your content or not, you may want to track their reactions: do they like the content you share with them, do they bookmark it, do they comment on the information you share with them?

If you notice that your content doesn’t generate the expected reactions, you can deep dive into your analytics to understand the reasons why.

the key is to measure internal communication and employee engagementOne of the most common communication mistakes businesses do during a merger is to use multiple tools and dashboards to analyze employee engagement.

Data gets scattered between different channels and it becomes tricky to have a clear understanding of how employees react to the merger.

The key here is to use one dashboard where you can gather all your employee engagement metrics and correlate them with the other internal communication KPIs you’re tracking.

4. Impacts on the Business’s Bottom Line

Your internal communication has a direct impact on the business’s bottom line.

A recent survey among 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of poor internal communication.

To evaluate whether your internal communication has supported the business goals during the merger, you’ll need to measure its direct impact on the business’s bottom line.

Broadly speaking, you may want to look at three metrics:

Employee Performance and Productivity

On average, employees are 20 to 25% more productive in organizations with effective internal communication in comparison with companies where employees are not connected.

One of the key challenges most businesses face during mergers is to keep employees motivated and engaged. So, what’s the situation at your company? Have you noticed a change in employee productivity? How does your internal communication support your employees in their daily jobs?

measuring the effectiveness of internal communication is the key to building a successful businessYou’ll need to measure the impacts of your IC strategy on your employees’ performance so you can evaluate whether you’ve successfully communicated with your employees during the merger.

Increase in Revenue

Have you noticed an increase in sales during and after the merger? Does the new company structure encourage your sales, marketing and tech teams to collaborate? Do your sales reps share their best practices more often?

You need to deep dive into your analytics and measure the impacts of your internal communication on your sales revenue and business growth.

Retention Rates

One of the main risks businesses face during mergers is to lose their best employees.

Here again internal communication plays a critical role. If the organizational changes related to the merger are not successfully communicated, employees may get confused, frustrated, and they may even start looking for a new job because they may think that they’re going to lose their jobs because of the merger.

So, do you manage to retain top talent? Does your internal communication help you lower turnover rates? The way you inform and inspire your employees during a merger has a direct impact on their willingness to stay at your company.

In other words, internal communication has a great impact on employee engagement, especially during a merger!

Final Thoughts

As an IC practitioner, you need to measure the success of your internal communication. When you backup your IC strategy with relevant data, you’re in a better position to prove the value of internal communication and negotiate your IC budget.

Put differently, it’s one of the best ways to become a strategic business partner!

What’s more, measuring the performance of your internal communication is a great way to ensure that the strategy you build supports the company’s goals and strategy overall. And to do so, you’ll need to identify what KPIs to track. It’s not an easy task but it’ll help you identify the communication bottlenecks your organization is facing so you can implement the right adjustments.

There’s no standardized ways of tracking the success of internal communication. Keep in mind that the KPIs you set should always be aligned with the business goals. In this post, we took the example of internal communication during a merger and we suggested metrics you can track in that specific context. Your KPIs won’t be the same in another context where the business goals are different.

After all, measuring the performance of internal communication is all about ensuring that your strategy supports the company’s growth!

Interested in learning more on how Smarp can help you measure your internal communication? Book a demo now and learn how to take your IC strategy to the next level! 👇

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Written by

Valène Jouany

Valène Jouany

Content Marketing Manager

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