Organizations can no longer spoon feed employees only the news corporate communications chooses in the traditional old ways. Because of social media, employees are no longer isolated from news other sources and chatter, points out Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing LLC., in her blog The Measurement Advisor.
Employees are more likely to obtain news about the organization from blogs, text messaging, Twitter, message boards and other sources than from the internal newsletter. They can now easily obtain information previously available only to investors – and are privy to internal scuttlebutt more than ever before. Because employees are bombarded with marketing and promotional messages as much as any consumer, they are more skeptical, increasing the challenge for employee communications to maintain its credibility and get its messages across.
Still Using Annual Surveys
While PR, marketing and social media managers enjoy access to substantial amounts of data and sophisticated data analytics tools, most internal communications professionals still rely on annual employee surveys or ad hoc newsletter surveys,
Internal communicators may be unaware of advanced tools and techniques now available. Yet internal communications is more important than ever to retain desirable talent, to keep the workforce informed, and to boost morale.
Recruiting and retaining top talent calls for continuously evaluating what messages succeed and how they impact employees’ perceptions of the organization. The same rule applies to internal communications as external PR communications. “You can’t manage it if you don’t measure it,” Paine stresses.
Measuring results of effectiveness of employee communications and presenting that information to senior management is critical if internal communications is to retain its position in the overall corporate hierarchy.
Important Internal Communications Metrics
Paine cites three metrics that should be on every monitoring dashboard.
Engagement. Standard employee survey questions include:
- How satisfied are you with your job?
- To what extent are you likely to recommend the organization as a good place to work?
- To what extent do you spend discretionary time at company events?
- To what extent are you involved in your company’s community or CSR activities?
An employee survey every two years is no longer adequate. Instead, Paine recommends placing these questions on your Intranet quarterly or after employee meetings to obtain fresh and relevant data. It may also allow you to correlate data to shifts in employee attitude that you might not have otherwise noticed.
A system like BananaTag can track click-through rates of internal emails. Use the same definitions of engagement, including time on site, pages per visit and other factors, to track engagement
Recruitment. Tracking your company’s ratings on sites such as Glassdoor is critical. Internal communications can benefit from measurement activities of the company’s external communications and social media teams measuring activities. The key is to understand how the company is perceived by the millennials, who probably will be vital to its future.
Retention. An exit survey can help you understand why employees are leaving. Measure reduction in turnover or increase in retention as an outcome of your employee communications.
Examine your Intranet
Scrutinizing statistics of your Intranet will help measure the value of your internal communications, says Marisa Peacock, a marketing consultant and social media strategist, in an article for CMS Wire. Unlike website analytics, high numbers for page views and time on the site do not indicate success.
If employees spend too much time on an Intranet, they might be getting lost or having difficulty finding information. Writing informative headlines, summarizing effectively, creating a clear navigation structure and deleting old and infrequently visited pages can improve its effectiveness.
In addition, Peacock recommends identifying popular search terms to ensure that frequently searched information is easily accessible, providing access from mobile devices, and working with IT to increase the Intranet’s speed. Internal communications can mine the Intranet for multiple data points:
- Unique log-ins per day to show how many employees access the intranet and how often.
- Peak times of use to help staff time announcements.
- Number of profiles completed. If users create and complete their own user profiles, the number indicates its adoption rate.
Bottom Line: Although PR external communications and social media teams are increasingly benefiting from data and measurement tools, internal communications teams have been slower to measure performance and effectiveness. Measuring use and effectiveness of employee communications can provide insights on how to improve the traditional methods of communication and point to other methods that employees may prefer.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.