The way we communicate has changed
In my role as co-founder and chief strategy officer at SocialChorus, I get to work with leaders of with Fortune 500 companies to help them digitally transform the employee experience. Here’s what I notice about today’s workplace. Teams are more dispersed, diverse, and multigenerational. The labor market is tight. The need to manage change is constant. Companies are replacing or augmenting traditional ways of doing business with AI and automation. And competition is fierce.
These changes mean the way we communicate with our workforces must change.
Consider the following insights from our 2019 Internal Communicator Index.
- We’re now living in a post-trust era: 51% of communicators say stopping “fake news” is a priority for leaders.
- 85% of communicators also say measuring the positive impact of internal communications on employee engagement is a challenge.
- 64% say they don’t have a good way to know whether employees have seen or read their published content.
How Can Data Address Today’s Communications Challenges?
Whether it’s HR running onboarding campaigns or the CIO driving digital transformation initiatives, workforce communications is critical to their success. Why? Because if people are left in the dark around their role in the larger business goals, the initiatives – and ultimately your business – will fail.
So how do you make sure your employees are getting these important messages? How do you correlate communications with business drivers and the bottom line?
Introducing advanced insights with Analyze
We provide the data so you can thrive amid major changes among your workforce and technology. Analyze helps you uncover what’s resonating with your workforce – by location, function, tenure, line manager, etc, It uses intelligence to optimize the delivery of communications to drive your desired business outcome.
Every executive needs data to make the best decisions for their business. We want you to be able to provide communications analytics and insights – and show how this intelligence drives the business.
“We look forward to tracking strategic initiatives and how they are resonating with our different employee groups around the world’, says Norman Rice, COO of Extreme Networks. ‘Getting the right message to the right employees and partners – and tracking the results – is a key driver for our business.”
That’s why we’re launching a How to Measure Internal Communications blog series, a step-by-step guide with everything you need to know about internal communications metrics. We’ll address why measuring employee communications is essential, what and how to measure, and what actions you can take from the insights.
Our goal is to empower communicators to embrace analytics, so they can take the necessary steps forward to be a leading content creator, communicator, and internal marketer to reach every employee with the right message at the right time.
Remove the Guesswork With Data
For many internal communicators, evaluating metrics is a weak spot. In our recent Mobile now, intranet later ebook, 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. Moreover, only 22% were actually confident that the metrics they chose to track were effective in improving their content.
This lack of confidence translates into how little the data and resulting insights were used or shared. 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.
Jumpstart your internal communications strategy. Get our latest infographic: 8 Employee Engagement Best Practices for 2019, which uncovers the proven ways communications leaders can increase engagement.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it
You don’t need to be a data scientist, but you will need to learn the basics of defining your metrics for success, theorizing new ideas, testing them, analyzing, and then reporting those results to continually improve the important work you’re doing. In the blog series, we’ll cover these steps in more detail, plus we’ll publish a bonus glossary of internal communications measurement terminology.
Let’s get started!
Every enterprise and every communications team is 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. So it’s important to set clear targets and objectives that are also actionable to work toward improvement.
Need help defining your goals? Use our free worksheet included here, and get started with these five steps to establishing your internal communications goals.
1. Identify your company’s goals to ensure alignment.
What are your company’s business strategies? If you aren’t clear, interview the executive team. Add them to the top of your goals worksheet. Record business strategies, such as employees meeting revenue targets, launching a new product, etc. Be sure that you know your company-wide objectives to inform and align your own communications goals.
2. Establish objectives for your communications.
Start with your current campaigns, programs, or initiatives. Ask these questions and fill in your goals worksheet:
- What campaign or initiative do I want to run?
- Which channels and vehicles are the best for this campaign?
- What do I hope to achieve?
- Which employees do I need to reach?
- How will I measure success?
For example, you have a new company initiative to reach frontline workers at retail locations and out in the field. You have a communications campaign to host your town hall meeting via livestream video, and you want to be sure to engage those employees that have been the hardest to reach.
How will you define success? Think about your past town halls; what did you do last year? Did your frontline employees participate at all? Were there any reasons why their participation was so low? What would you do differently this year? How can you increase their attendance to reach your goals?
One goal could be to increase the number of attendees from your frontline employee segment. Then establish a ratio or percentage to define the goal. For example, a 50% attendance rate (from all the employees in this group) could be your achievement. Then add this success definition to your worksheet.
3. Review what metrics are available and how best to use them.
Now that you’ve set objectives and defined what success looks like, you’ll create your strategy on how you’ll measure your campaign.
First, break down your campaign activities, so you can plan how best to communicate and measure them. Consider:
- Which channels or vehicles are best to use for this particular campaign?
- How will I test this?
- How will I measure performance on that channel?
- What are the metrics specific to the channel?
You’ll measure depending on the way you send out your communications. Each channel or vehicle you plan to use, intranet, video, employee engagement app, email, surveys—has a different metric.
For example, email performance is measured by open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, and more. If you’re using your branded communications app to send messages, your metrics would be engagement, measured with likes, comments, shares, impressions, etc.
And by measuring and later analyzing your outcomes, you’ll also establish a champion channel strategy. You may find that certain channels are best for specific communications, or that a multi-channel communications plan truly reaches every employee where they are.
Add your campaign activities, channels, and vehicles you’ll use to your worksheet. And remember, it’s optimum to focus on a few defining metrics rather than tracking every number possible.
4. Determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track the progress of your department’s initiatives in relation to company-wide objectives. A KPI is 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%. Choosing the right KPI depends on what’s best for the organization.
Metrics, by comparison, are a way to measure the success of a specific campaign action, like a piece of content or an email newsletter. The difference is that KPIs usually connect to a larger business strategy, whereas metrics are more tactical. Metrics support KPIs, while KPIs support overall business goals. But both must be quantifiable.
Demonstrate to your entire organization the progress and impact of your communications and how the drive business outcomes by sharing both your KPIs and your metrics.
Set a baseline.
You’ll need to figure out what you’re measuring to determine the effectiveness of your current efforts. Take stock of what metrics your organization is following, how those metrics are followed, and what the current numbers indicate. In other words, set “ground zero” numbers that will serve as your reference point to measure your work going forward.
Responses and Feedback
If you aren’t already surveying your employees, now is the time to start. Surveys can be the best way of understanding what your employees have engaged with when it comes to internal communication. Typically, people are more willing to provide honest answers if they feel that there is anonymity to their responses. No one wants to ‘call out’ a supervisor for not doing their job or a company for lacking in clear employee communication. In a survey, data is collected in clear and concise ways that allow a company to address the problem areas.
Asking questions like ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how has this company effectively demonstrated its ability to communicate internally?’ is an objective way to get the information you need. Also allowing for comments after a question can allow employees to elaborate on an unclear topic. Do not just send out one survey to all your employees. Make sure to segment out your employees by job/title/location and send them surveys tailored to their position in the company. Also, be sure to make the questions clear, with nothing vague or open to interpretation. You’ll need the most concise and direct answers possible. Another tactic is to run in-person focus groups with employees. This way, you can generate real conversations that dig into issues in a way that’s deeper than just answering survey questions.
Employees may receive information, but are they really reading what they have been sent? Implementing a platform that tracks employee engagement with internal communication enables an organization to identify areas of concern. By tracking this information, employers can better understand a company’s weaknesses and then act upon them. In a digital world, it is inherently necessary to use digital tools to track every aspect of a company’s performance – and that includes communication.
What kind of engagement numbers are tracked? If you asked most managers or HR personnel, they would tell you email open rates or intranet logins. However, this only tells you a tiny part of the story. A more effective way of measuring might be email CTR (click-through rates), or forwarded email and shares. Email open rates and intranet logins only show that an employee is aware of the information being distributed by your organization. But, measuring the number of links in the emails that are clicked on, or company news that is forwarded to colleagues or shared on social media indicates that your employees are truly engaging with your company’s message.
Employees who are happy with their employers tend to stay in the same job for a longer time. And unhappy employees begin to look elsewhere for work. Common sense, right? By tracking a company’s turnover rate, you can better understand the effectiveness of your internal communication. When employees feel like they’re “in the know,” they feel a greater sense of respect and trust from their employers. If that level of trust and respect is missing, then employees will lose their enthusiasm for a company. This reduces productivity and eventually leads to employee turnover. This is an easy KPI to track. The challenge is making sure that it’s tied to internal communication.
This internal communication KPI is often underappreciated. Two of the biggest issues in modern workplace communication are the number of dispersed workers and the inefficiency of the current intranet systems. Almost one-third of employees never visit the intranet, and 43 percent of employees work from a remote location at least part of the time. Measuring the percentage of employees who can even be reached may be more important than any other metric. If a company memo is sent out and nobody is reading it, does it make an impact?
Another overlooked internal communication KPI is Employee Advocacy. And this goes hand-in-hand with employee engagement. Transforming your employees into passionate advocates for your brand can make a huge impact – not just in terms of social outreach, but also employee morale. When employees feel more connected and tied to the organizational mission, they’re more likely to become advocates for your company. This is important in helping you retain your top talent and also increase productivity. It also turns your workforce into a small army of PR machines. You immediately can generate a countless number of people sharing, liking, tweeting and retweeting your message to the world of social media when employees are empowered to share approved company news and announcements.
5. Choose the cadence to measure success.
Once you know what metrics you’re tracking, record them over a period of time using your SocialChorus dashboard or a simple spreadsheet (use the second tab on the worksheet to track your metrics) to evaluate your communications. For example, if you’re measuring video performance on your branded employee communications app, you’re looking at impressions, views, and engagement.
Use your workforce communications platform or spreadsheet, and note the metrics you want to evaluate. Then add the values over a time period. Perhaps every week, you’ll document the video content’s performance. After a month or a quarter, you’ll benchmark the data and determine how successful you are. And you can compare it to metrics from other videos that were posted on your branded communications app.
Later, you’ll analyze and create actionable insights, or value obtained from these metrics that will help you identify improvement opportunities. You may recognize that video content on your branded communications app is mostly watched when it’s new, during the first few days or week. You may decide to measure its performance during this time period an indicator of success. You’ll make more discoveries, such as the best types of content, length, time to post, etc. And you’ll think of ways to test your content ideas to improve.
By measuring and understanding the leading metrics for each channel, you’ll increase your communications’ engagement over time. You’ll make informed decisions going forward, and you’ll truly be the important link between your leadership and your employees driving business goals.
You’ve developed a success framework and defined what achievement looks like. We’ve covered a lot of terminology. In our next installment, we’ll post an internal communications metrics glossary, and then we’ll get started on aligning your team and creating a process to gain valuable insights from your metrics.
What metrics does SocialChorus look at?
Get our updated How to Measure Internal Communications eBook today. Learn what a data-driven comms program looks like.