Tracking your internal communications’ effectiveness once required little more than an occasional employee survey to gauge response to your newsletter.
With today’s plethora of communications tools, anyone in charge of internal communications needs a suite of measurement tools to fully understand what is working and what isn’t.
Below is a discussion of the tools we recommend. They’re all widely available, and many may already be in place in your organization.
An output measurement tool
What you must understand first is whether the “output” that you are distributing is reaching your internal audience. You need a tool that will answer these crucial questions:
Are the memos and emails being read?
Are they getting to the people and/or departments in a timely manner?
Are they being passed along or instantly deleted?
Are they reaching the right people?
There are three methods for getting that information:
1. Internal message analysis: This works just as external media analysis does. Human or automated sentiment analysts scan email conversations on your intranet and internal blogs for keywords, messages and sentiment. This technique is useful for determining where and how extensively internal and external sentiment overlap.
We recommend analyzing all outgoing communications—including emails, newsletters, memos, voicemails, videos, speeches and presentations—to determine what messages are being communicated, who is getting the messages and what they are doing with them (e.g., deleting, forwarding or saving them).
More sophisticated clients actually analyze the email traffic to determine developing connections and networks. For large organizations, systems such as Valdis Kreb’s “Inflow” map the forwarding and response patterns of email. BananaTag can do this just as well as customized measurement companies such as CyberAlert and Prime Research.
2. Survey on email use: Most organizations worry about over-surveying employees, but a quick survey (Qualtrics, Benchpoint or SurveyMonkey ) on email use generally pays off. JPMorgan Chase discovered that by organizing and managing email communications more efficiently, the organization could save several million dollars a year.
3. Intranet traffic stats: Another important metric to track is available from your intranet log files via Omniture, Google Analytics or WebTrends. How many people are clicking on various pages on your intranet? To what extent are they downloading content?
An outtake measurement tool
This tool is typically a more in-depth survey that will help you identify the takeaways from your messaging:
Did they understand the message, and did they interpret it correctly?
Did the message change their morale or their work habits?
Did the communications impact their outlook toward the company?
We recommend quarterly “pulse checks” of employee attitudes to determine how perceptions change over time.
An outcome measurement tool
Outcomes are the behaviors that you want to engender and promote within your organization. Ideally, your communications efforts are intended to make employees more loyal, more efficient and more knowledgeable. So the outcome metrics might be employee retention, performance, turnover or efficiency ratings.
One company developed an ongoing “Trivial Pursuit” quiz to test employees’ knowledge and understanding of the messages. They awarded prizes for the most correct answers. It significantly increased the entire company’s understanding of and belief in the key messages.
Another important outcome metric is available by studying your intranet’s log files. Data such as how long employees spend in each area, to what extent employees are hitting various pages, and the extent to which they download the information you provide are all measures of employee behavior.
A tool to pull it all together
Internal communications never functions in a vacuum. Employees are just as likely to get news of company developments from local media outlets or gossip at a soccer game as they are from your emails. Therefore it is essential that you also monitor local news outlets to have a complete understanding of what the employee is seeing.
Further, you’ll probably want to compare and contrast internal versus external communications vehicles to test the degree to which media outlets and particular tactics are successful in communicating your messages.
Many organizations focus on “cost per message communicated” as a way to evaluate the efficiency and efficacy of different programs. Another option is to compare the reach and frequency of message communications in your delivery channels, including email, local media outlets and internal communiqués.
Increasingly, organizations are using dashboard products like Tableau to weave together data from HR, finance, marketing and communications to demonstrate the relationships spanning internal communications, employee behavior and customer loyalty.