People Business » How measuring internal communications can drive value

‘The workplace’ as a meaningful term, has pretty much had its day. For knowledge workers, there is no ‘workplace’ that has any meaning outside the single view of the individual – it is an online world that is defined by webchat, email, collaboration platforms, hot desks, and transport hubs.

At most places, employees are provided with a suite of tools – in my case a laptop, a mobile phone, accounts for WeWork, Slack, Salesforce, G Suite, and SocialChorus – and left to figure out the rest, and get their job done. The ways of working, and the experience of doing it, are unrecognisable even to 20 years ago (when I sat behind a desktop computer at an investment bank).

The workplace has become centred around problems and solving them, rather than having established processes that should maintain business as usual (in a world where business as usual is not meaningful anymore either).

For deskless workers, who work in manufacturing or logistics or education or agriculture or healthcare or construction – and who represent 80% of the workforce – the experience has also been transformed. They may have different tools to do such different jobs, but the overriding trajectory of the experience is that their work life is pulling away from their home life.

Outside of work they have access to everything they use day to day – their bank, their email, their social media, newspapers, music, Netflix, Amazon, etc. – on their phone. At work, not so much. Deskless has come to mean disconnected.

How do you deliver a single internal communications program in an environment like that? Everyone agrees it is important, and that there is a direct correlation to employee engagement.

Every HR or communications professional will tell you that relevant information and updates help people do their jobs better. We all know that when people do their jobs better, the entire business or organisation becomes happier, healthier, more productive and, one hopes, more profitable.

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

Fully engaged

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 could be using to their advantage.

By giving employees access to communications via a channel that is convenient for them, they are far more likely to engage. That doesn’t just mean delivered to a mobile phone – it means delivering on the requirements of today’s workforce, which means:

  • Employees can subscribe to channels that interest them; and can also be opted in by default. The main feed for each employee will therefore always be personalised to them.
  • Employees must be able to produce employee-generated content easily and quickly.
  • There needs to be an interface employees are already accustomed to
  • Employees to be able to be able to easily share approved content with their social communities (aka employee advocacy).
  • Nobody wants an intranet in their pocket.
  • No articles over 200 words, no videos over two minutes, and all highly visual.
  • Channel owners should be able to learn how to create content quickly and easily.
  • Push notifications when necessary.
  • Crazy good analytics that help make a better program
  • One platform for everything – email, browser, app, kiosk, digital signage, etc.

Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends reports that 85% of survey respondents believe people data is very important, but only 42% 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, we discovered that only 56% of survey respondents tracked website analytics, 44% looked at email clicks, and 19% 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% 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.

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% in a year or reducing employee attrition by 10%.

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, if they ever did.

Employees over 40 want and expect targeted, relevant content and information coming from their employer and their colleagues. Employees under 40 simply don’t understand why a company would use email or a website to bind a company together. When companies take steps to measure the value of communications, the entire organisation benefits.