Tag Archives: measurement

What you should be measuring to effectively tell your story

Measurement isn’t worth anything if you’re doing it for it’s own sake. It must tie into your organization’s overarching goals.

As Rachel Miller puts it in an article on All Things IC:

Too often I see communications teams working in complete isolation from the rest of the business. When I ask how their activities support the organizational objectives and what impact it has, answers are less than forthcoming. You don’t have to work in this way.

Everything you do as a communication team or practitioner needs to be directly linked to what the organization is trying to achieve.

Here are three common goals executives want to see from internal communications, and the metrics—beyond the typical metrics such as open rate, read time and checking devices used for access—communicators can keep tabs on to specifically monitor whether those goals are being met.

1. Increasing benefits enrollment.

According to a report from People Strategy, persuading employees to enroll themselves in benefit programs can lead to cost savings, save time for HR representatives and increase employee engagement. So there are clear benefits to persuading employees to do it.Often, communications encouraging employees to sign up for benefits come in the form of emails extolling the value to employees of the particular benefit or benefits.

At the start of an email campaign, measure the current level of employee enrollment, the compare it against employee participation as the campaign goes on. Keep tabs on the number of messages it takes to engender substantial behavior change. Also measure whether employees are engaging with the messages.

A few more questions to answer through measurement: Are employees asking human resources more questions about particular benefits or programs? Is interest spiking, even if enrollment hasn’t increased yet? Is traffic up on your wiki or information page about a particular benefit, and are your emails driving employees there?

2. Strategic alignment.

Recent research in the International Journal of Production Economics found that “operations’ strategic alignment to the firm’s objectives is the single most key contributor to firm performance.” In brief, when employees know the key messages of the organization they work for, the entire organization performs better, full stop.

Repeated communication of those key messages, from executives in all areas and at all levels, is the path to ensuring everyone is aligned with the overarching strategy. But how do you know if the messages are getting through?

One sure sign is clickthroughs. Are employees clicking on the links in the emails and other communications explaining the organizational strategy? If they are, then they’re invested in the message and want to know more.

Also, can your employees demonstrate their familiarity with the key messages? Surveys, polls, and participation in forums or other forms of two-way communication about the strategy are all indicators that they know the messages and want to offer their own input into how strategic goals can be met.

3. Heightening engagement.

Communicators all know engagement is linked to employee productivity, but how do you really keep tabs on it? It takes not just the basic, day-to-day measurement, but also measuring outcomes, such as whether employees participate more in organizational activities—which likely fall out of the scope of their basic job description—more this year than the year before.

Another area to keep tabs on is whether employees are more willing to share their stories. If they are, it creates what you might call a cycle of engagement. Hearing stories about how other employees gained fulfillment and recognition makes their colleagues more engaged, and thus willing to share their own stories, which will then inspire others even further.

Purpose, process, payoff: Aligning internal comms to business goals

Have you heard this one before: “Companies with engaged employees outperform those without?”

That’s a fact—and it is a fact, according to the American Marketing Association—that gets thrown around a lot among communicators. But what does it really mean? What’s the key to unlocking the treasure of engaged employees?

Engaging employees isn’t something that just happens, and there is no trickery, bribery or shiniest new tool that makes it happen. It comes by making a real connection with employees, who then buy into your organization’s business goals. When they become believers, they are engaged.

And that’s no easy task. According to research from HubSpot, more than half of internal communications professionals (54 percent) said one of their biggest challenges is gaining buy-in from employees.

Big challenge, big rewards. How can communications help to engage employees and the added company performance that comes with them? Here are a few tips and best practices:

Create a strategic communications plan. A blog post from internal communcations agency Tribe explains how a strategic communications plan helps align internal communications and business goals:

The strategic communications plan helps to keep everyone moving in the same direction. It’s what provides the structure on which you can build employee engagement in reaching those business objectives…Even before you start developing your messaging, you’ve begun to pave the way for changing employee behavior.

Listen. Employees want to know they’re being heard. It’s that simple. You can’t ask someone to buy into your goals if you aren’t attentive to their needs. In a white paper, Janson Communications offers this advice:

If internal audiences are constantly on the receiving end and seldom or never get the opportunity to “be heard,” the messages will become less genuine. When employees are given the chance to share their opinions and that information is used appropriately, a foundation of trust is built.

Measure. Listen to what employees say, but also pay attention to what they do. Which channels do they prefer? (According to HubSpot and PoliteMail, email is still the most popular channel.) What types of messages do they like? What do they respond to? Make adjustments to communicate with them in the ways they want with the content they need and find most useful.

Speak to employees as individuals. When you ask someone to buy into an idea or a way of thinking, there’s one important question you must answer: “What’s in it for me?” Be sure you let your employees know what the benefits to them of engagement are. The answer won’t be the same for everyone, so align your messaging with specific segments of our audience according to their roles and interests. While some may be satisfied with an answer about the health of the organization, others may want something else. Be upfront about all the risks and benefits.

What is the secret recipe for employee engagement? There really isn’t one magic bullet, but communications, culture, community and clear objectives are the keys. Communicating with employees on their terms, explaining what the business wants and why, and asking them what they want and taking that into consideration is the way forward.

To learn more about how organizations like yours are successfully communicating with employees, download PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

Quantitative or Qualitative: How surveys and focus groups help measure internal communications effectiveness

After making the sometimes arduous decisions of which internal communications channels and programs are the best for your organization, the question of “Is it working?” lingers for comms professionals.

There are two viable measurement methods for answering that question.

First there isthe quantitative data, which comes in the form of metrics and analytics gathered from your organization’s use of email, intranet pages, mobile pages and other communication tools. Qualitative data will tell you how many employees are reading an email message or regularly utilizing your intranet site. What that doesn’t tell you is why, and that’s is where qualitative data comes in.

Qualitative data is the internal communications feedback you get direct from employees by conducting surveys and focus groups. Qualitative data, using properly formed questions, can tell you why employees participate or now, and how they feel about the channel, program or campaign.

While surveys and focus groups are equally worthwhile methods of gathering qualitative information, each one achieves different things. Quantum Workplace points out the difference:

Often the employee survey itself simply uncovers weaknesses and strengths, but it doesn’t always point to action steps for improvements. This is the next part of the conversation and where employee focus groups can provide insight on how to improve employee engagement.

A broad survey of hundreds or thousands of people can often serve as a starting point for digging deeper using focus groups of 10 to 12 employees, Quantum Workplace’s article suggests.

The Society for Human Resource Management has provided a detailed, six-step outline communicators can use to set up an employee focus group, starting with choosing a purpose statement, through developing questions, to selecting a facilitator, inviting participants, holding the actual meeting, and then analyzing the findings.

SHRM’s guide suggests that “a productive focus group is much more than a chat session,” and requires care and planning to make sure the results are useful.

Surveys, likewise, require careful planning. The way a question is worded will impact not only the answer, but how participates feel. In many ways, communicators must consider the tone of a survey just like they do other communications. According to Custom Insight, “communicating and establishing trust will also increase the survey response rate as well as the candor of the responses.”

Like SHRM’s focus group guide, Custom Insight provides a planning guide for surveys, with tips for alerting employees that the survey is coming, then combing the results for information that can improve internal communications.

In a post on his blog, internal communications expert Shel Holtz notes that it’s important for communicators to not just ask employees about tools and features they currently use; they should describe possibilities that could come in the form of new tools:

If the responses come back pointing toward a mobile app or mobile version of an internal social network, you’ll know all you need to: You’ll know that employees don’t yet know what delivery mechanism they want. It is up to internal communicators to make that mechanism available.

Surveys and focus groups go hand-in-hand. According to Quantum Workplace, employees who receive follow-ups after a survey (possibly in the form of a focus group) are 12 times more engaged than those who have no follow-up.

To learn more about how communicators are measuring their communications efforts, download PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

7 tips to justify internal comms measurement to business leaders

Most people who have worked in internal communications for a good amount of time are likely aware that top executives aren’t totally sold on the idea of making the effort to measure it.

In PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey, 25 percent of the communicators surveyed said the biggest challenge to measuring internal communications was that leadership didn’t see the value in it or doesn’t view it as a priority.

Yet 54 percent also said that measurement is valuable because it makes it easier to persuade C-suite executives to make good communication decisions.

Measurement justifies further measurement. That means communicators must be smart with the resources they have to prove why top business leaders should make measurement a cornerstone part of their corporate communications.

Here are seven tips that help make the case:

1. Go beyond “awareness.”

In an article for the Institute for Public Relations, Ethan McCarty, Global Head of Employee and Innovation Communications for Bloomberg, argues that “awareness is just one arrow in our quiver.” Communicators must show executives the business outcomes that arise from that awareness, not just prove that employees know more.

2. Demonstrate how information moves.

To build on McCarty’s point, internal communications are the most effective when messages don’t just move from the top down, but flow between employees and out into the world in a positive way. If you can show that employees are engaged and being activated to speak up, executives can instantly see the value. It can also change the culture. “The combination of openness and the easy flow of communication to everyone combine to make people feel like part of a coherent whole,” states the University of Kansas’ Community Tool Box section on internal communication.

3. Prove that the internal audience is unique.

The notion that internal communications are not PR may seem obvious, but it isn’t always immediately apparent to top-level leaders. You have to show them. “The models employed by strategy-focused internal communicators are…vastly different from the earned-media models that occupy most of the time of most PR practitioners,” communications expert Shel Holtz writes at his blog. With surveys and other tools, you can show that.

4. Show what you’re learning.

Measurement doesn’t mean much if the numbers aren’t being put to use. The people in the C-suite need to know communicators are changing up their strategies based on the metrics. In a LinkedIn post, Stuart Z. Goldstein, former managing director of corporate communications and public affairs at Depository Trust & Clearing, puts it this way: “Research won’t win the budget battles by itself, but it does provide a valuable lobbying tool, and it signals to management that corporate communications is learning from best practices.”

5. Drop what isn’t working.

Trying new things is really important, but executives aren’t going to stand for adding one thing on top of the other. If commuicators can show that measuring results has led to them dropping some less-than-effective channels to make room for the new stuff, it can prove that resources are being used more wisely.

6. Give examples of how it helped solve problems.

The KU Community Toolbox bluntly states, “Problems can be resolved, but only if they’re identified and acknowledged.” How do you identify them? Measurement. Show executives where you’ve pinpointed problems—perhaps email messages weren’t formatted in the most appealing way—and fixed them through employee feedback.

7. Participate in “strategic marketing.”

Goldstein says most communications reporting is viewed as “drudgery.” Don’t make yours a slog to get through. Serve up a road map that directly ties the metrics you’re presenting to business goals. “This approach addresses management’s question about ROI quite directly and is a powerful way to sell the value of corporate communications,” he writes.

The Benefits of Measuring Internal Communications

Over 500 internal comms professionals participated in PoliteMail’s 2016 Internal Communications Measurement Survey, offering an inside look at how they define and measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

Among the survey’s most striking findings is that many internal comms professionals remain unsure of what and how to measure. Perhaps because of that, 20% of respondents measure very little of their efforts, and 15% don’t measure at all. More than half (60%), however, measure at least some of their work.

According to survey respondents, there are three main benefits to measuring internal comms:

Stronger Employee Engagement

76% of internal comms professionals surveyed said measurement strengthens employee engagement. One practical way to use measurement to encourage engagement is through the process of audience segmentation. Creating targeted, segmented messaging builds trust, delivers more appropriate messaging and shows that engagement is a priority.

Also, companies with high employee engagement enjoy 6% higher profit margins than those with lower engagement.

Proof of ROI—and Support of Senior Executives

Everyone in the business world has been told they “better have the numbers to back it up” at some point—and that’s exactly what internal comms measurement provides.

Having firm data in hand helps communicators prove their departments’ worth (44%) and supports increasing department budgets (22%).

Data-Informed Decision Making

Communicators need to know the outcomes for all of their efforts to help them create the best game plan for their next project. And they can find those results through measuring their communications.

83% of survey respondents say measuring internal comms efforts helps them make data-informed decisions. 79% of those cited the ability to create stronger campaigns based on that data as a major benefit.

Start Benefiting from Communications Measurements

Want to see how (and why) other teams are measuring their internal communications efforts? Download our 2016 Internal Communications Survey Results.