There’s an old business expression I was taught early in my career: “if it cannot be measured, it cannot be managed“. Where there are cases for pragmatic decision-making, ultimately this expression rings true for every scenario within a business. The most obvious functions are the company’s financials, sales, projects, customer acquisition and retention, quality assurance, competitiveness, and talent management. The term “managed” in this expression does not only suggest “to take control of”, but also to “benchmark for improvement”. Internal Communications (IC) offers many tangible benefits and therefore is no different from the aforementioned functions. It impacts a business in so many ways:
- Motivation and productivity
- Alignment with the company’s values
- Company culture
- Inter-departmental collaboration
- Leadership transparency
- Employee experience
- Employee engagement
- Employee retention
- Innovation processes
- Customer service
The question to ask is: how can we make IC-related decisions if we don’t have any data to understand its impact?
Start with Context
My background is infotech. It’s an industry that thrives on solving complex problems, but often introduces more complexity when doing so. We love buzzwords, acronyms, new taxonomies, and innovating for innovation’s sake. Don’t get me wrong, we are in the digital era where so many use-cases have been expertly solved – the industry is critically important. However, there’s something to be said for simplicity. IC is about people, your employees. They want to feel connected to the business. They want to know what’s happening around them and how it impacts their workplace, role, and peers. Another victory for everyone is the celebration of achievement. In summary, employees like the company to be humanized.
The good news is, whether you are in HR or IC, there’s no rule that says you have to burn mega hours drafting rich content to achieve the benefits. Social Media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram have proven how quickly and effectively we can impact others. They have also created an instant gratification mindset. People want easy to understand content and to consume it fast. You can keep it simple. If there’s a need for more detailed content, include a URL.
For your company, think about the impact some of these IC categories could have on your workforce:
Company Centric Matters
- CEO’s update
- Financial performance
- Tech insights
- HR updates on policy changes, training, and employee experience improvements
- Recognition and awards
- Health & Safety
- Contribution to the environment and people
Employee Centric Topics
- Welcomes and farewells
- Congratulations and condolences
- Socials, shared fitness, and sports
- Digital & Cybersecurity tips
- Urgent notices or work instructions
Every company is different, there’s no prescription on what your IC should address. Besides HR and IC contributors, you also have the option to consider Department Influencers. They can personalize the “Employee Centric Topics” by making them more relevant for those they work with.
What to Measure
It stands to reason that some categories and communications are going to be more popular than others. You want to build on those that are successful and perhaps reconsider those that aren’t. The right digital tool can help you evaluate:
- The reach success – viz. the number of intended recipients vs. the number who acknowledged receiving the communication.
- What the overall response was to the content (eg. think of emojis representing satisfaction, surprise, or dissatisfaction).
Where communication has been sent to multiple Departments/Groups, consider evaluating each one. Some content may resonate better in one area than another. This is where Department Influencers can boost your IC strategy.
Shared IC View
Internal communication is important for its cohesive functioning and ensuring transparency across multiple departments. Lack of coordination can be a major source of internal friction and embarrassment. Ideally, the tool you choose should support a central console where HR, IC, Ops, and Department Influencers can view all the communications in planning, active, and completed status. This prevents duplication and unwanted contradictions.