I cannot tell you how many times I’ve googled “Internal Communications ROI.” “Proving the value of internal communications.” “Internal Communications Measurement Methods.”
It’s a never-ending quest, trying to prove to an organization that my skills add value to the bottom line.
A few years ago, a CHRO asked me to develop a communications maturity model – something that could be deployed across the organization to measure the effectiveness of communications at each of the company’s manufacturing facilities and corporate offices.
That’s a tall order. Hi Google.
“What is a maturity model?” “Communications maturity model.” “How to get through an existential crisis.”
I quickly learned that there was no such thing – a model that could be replicated that measured communications effectiveness. If I needed this measure, I’d have to create the model myself.
I learned very quickly that to measure how communications tie into to the company’s priorities, I needed to connect it to something the business cared about and measured. Fortunately, employee engagement was an important metric of success, driven from the top-down. With participation levels over 85 percent, employee engagement was such a priority that leader compensation was tied to the results on a business unit and local level.
No employee engagement survey? No worries! Your company might care more about these metrics: Turnover and absenteeism, customer experience, operational performance, corporate social responsibility or diversity, equity and inclusion. Find what makes your leadership team tick and focus on that.
This was the baseline of information I needed to create something quite elusive to internal communicators – correlation. If I could correlate employee engagement results to the communications actions and attitudes taken by leaders and HR representatives, then I could understand how to impact employee engagement.
Judging the actions and attitudes of leadership and HR is not traditionally in our job description (at least not officially!), but if your company is serious about understanding how to improve employee engagement, leaders must understand they are the primary impact on the employee experience.
The next step to correlating communications and business results is to define what "good" looks like. Develop communications best practices at your organization. To be honest, this is the fun part. This is where you get to say what works and what doesn’t work in communications.
My communications best practice focus areas and examples:
Consistent manager team meetings
Employees are informed about employee engagement and customer experience results
Employees have an easily-accessible, near-real-time feedback mechanism with complete transparency
Communications have clear calls to action or set expectations on behavior (vs. only informative)
Communications are engaging and authentic (have personality and are relatable)
Communications are linked to overall business strategy (the big picture)
People managers have clear expectations of their responsibility in communicating with their teams
Department or location leaders are involved with the planning and execution of communications activities
The final two pieces of this correlation puzzle are the most important. Sit down with the leader of the area you’re measuring and walk through the best practices. Show them their results and talk about how they engage with their teams. Make it real and relevant for them as you discuss what they’re doing or not doing across the communications best practices. Make the connection!
And finally, use this process to develop realistic action plans that – and I cannot stress this enough – internal communications does not own. Buy-in from leaders and HR teams matter most, as they are responsible for helping develop and fully execute the targeted action plans.
This proven method to identify how internal communications impacts your employee engagement scores will help your team show the value of their efforts.
Need help creating your plan? Reach out to us to find out how our team can help.