An employee survey is about more than just knowing how engaged your workforce is. It can be an effective form of communication research that not only helps you manage internal communication better, but also provides valuable insights that can help shape company-wide solutions that impact the bottom line.
Employee surveys and internal communication research gives organisations insight to:
- Engagement and internal alignment between personalities, age groups and across cultural and language barriers.
- Benchmarking internal communication impact.
- Collective engagement within the organisation.
- Impact of internal communication on the customer experience.
- Employee pain points and preferences.
Internal communication research and measurement is a challenge
As a discipline, internal communication and its landscape is changing rapidly, yet often measurement remains a challenge. A Global Survey among internal communicators in 2016 indicated that while 95 percent of participants considered measuring the impact of their communications as extremely important, 50 percent said it was the activity they spent the least amount of time on. And two thirds of communicators find internal communications very difficult to measure.
There are multiple reasons for this. Sometimes communicators lack measurement skills and tools, internal campaigns and initiatives are often complex, so assessing the impact can be challenging and often resources are limited – there’s just no time to measure!
How to start measuring internal communications?
A good place to start is to identify what real-time analytics and metrics you already have in place, so that you know where or what to update. Often, it’s also a case of developing new skills (understanding how to use the measurement tools you already have and may not have even known you have!)
Once you know what measurement tools you have at your disposal, it’s important to consider how you incorporate measurement into your planning. Knowing why you are sending your communications, what success looks, what behaviour you want to change, and aligning these goals to the overall business strategy, should come before planning what you are going to communicate.
Once you have identified your goals look at your internal communication metrics from different angles – and look beyond typical metrics. You can also consider using data to distil metrics by different target audiences, this could help you understand what communication resonates better. For example, an office-based employee at your headoffice may prefer different channels and content to a sales rep who is on the road all day. This will help you operate with a deeper understanding of the type of conversations, communication channels and communication tactics you should be using to sustain your brand.
As you start measuring, you can also start creating unique benchmarks tied to your goals, enabling you to review trends over weeks, months, quarters and the year. This will start giving you an accurate view of your internal communication activity.
Adapting to new ways of measuring and conducting internal communication research
As we become more agile in our approach to internal communication, we also need to think of measurement in a more agile way – measuring so that we can adapt as we communicate, rather than only measuring at the end of an internal communication campaign or engagement programme. Pulse surveys can be very useful in helping achieve this.
Ultimately, the most important benefit of effective measurement is how this can directly impact delivery on the business strategy. The fact is that businesses do better when employees felt connected to the company. Internal communication research and measurement is the key to unlocking this wealth of information towards building an effective internal communication strategy. Here are a few tips and ideas to help you measure more effectively.
Tips on how to innovate internal communication research and measurement:
- Why not evolve your traditional survey methods? Rather than a long, generic, annual questionnaire consider more frequent, qualitative and interactive methods.
- Have you thought of empowering employees to conduct polls themselves? Another angle to this could be that you look at crowd-sourcing the right questions (from employees) to ask in surveys.
- Commissioning an independent internal communication audit where you measure channel effectiveness, preferences, message recall, brand affinity and more can be very useful in helping set benchmarks and to inform your internal communication strategy – equipping you to communicate with your employees on a variety of relevant channels with clear and authentic content that doesn’t overload them. The end result: you have the insights to powerfully influence your workplace culture.
- More and more, especially as we progress in the digital workplace, social enterprise networks and Employee Apps enables you to use mobile technology to collect data from employees. They also open feedback channels to non-office-based employees that have often been limited in their ability to participate in employee research.
Conducting communication research that produces tangible solutions rather than just diagnosing general problems empowers communicators to commit to an approach where employees’ responses to surveys lead to changes in the organisation. By responding in this way, you send the message to staff that you not only hear their opinions, you value and act on them.
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