Measuring the ROI of your internal communications efforts can be challenging. There are a variety of metrics you can look at, and interpreting the data can be a tough task, particularly if you're examining intranet usage.
Analyzing return on investment can be challenging, but when it comes to internal communications things can get even trickier. Many companies find it difficult to measure the value and impact of their efforts, struggling with what, how, and why to measure. Effective internal communications can directly affect your business bottom line by improving employee satisfaction, retention, and engagement. On the flip side, we’ve previously touched on how communication breakdown can lead to a sticky end.
When you’re thinking about investing in new technologies to breathe new life into your communications and culture, and get everybody singing from the same song sheet, you’re going to need some hard facts to justify opening up those purse strings.
Analyze your current tools and methods
If you’re seeking to replace your current tools, you need to be able to justify why. How well (or poorly) are they working? DWG’s report, Measuring Internal Communications: Targeted metrics that demonstrate impact, takes an in-depth look at measurement from the perspective of internal communications. The report discusses how to measure impact, engagement, and even sentiment, highlighting the opportunities to prove value and the challenges associated with interpreting the data.
Take your intranet. There are several pertinent questions you can ask about your current setup and how it’s being used by employees:
How often are people visiting the intranet?
Who are the most active users?
Are people using the search function?
Is it possible for employees to comment on the content? If so, who starts most of the discussions?
If there are active discussions going on internally, these can reveal a great deal about your company culture. What kind of stories are your employees telling, and are you listening? Do employees feel like they can openly bring ideas and opinions to the table?
If you do have some sort of tool where employees can discuss their thoughts and ideas, it also tells you a great deal if it’s always the same people coming forward. Why do they feel more able to speak freely and share their thoughts? If you’re planning on introducing new communication initiatives and tools, these people could be prime candidates to act as champions, encouraging others in the organization to step forward.
Lies, damned lies, and statistics
Although the origin of this famous quotation is somewhat disputed, it holds true, especially when applied to intranets. You’ve almost certainly got one, and it’s definitely important to measure how it’s performing and whether it’s serving its purpose. So how does yours shape up?
Yes, people may be visiting your intranet. They may be reading company news but not engaging with the content because they either don’t understand it or don't feel it’s relevant for them. “Look, we published 50 articles last month, and had 6,000 page views.” Great, but are they taking the content on board? Just because they read it, it doesn’t mean they understood it; they may even have actively disliked it. It’s easy to get drunk on cheap internet statistics. You’ve got to know why you’re measuring something and have a clearly defined communications goal in mind.
Information is king
Gathering information is the key to success. When you know how your employees are behaving, you know where there are bottlenecks and how to fix them. If they don’t feel they can openly discuss issues, they are at risk of staying inside their comfort zones and silos, only taking care of the tasks they feel are relevant to them. With little or no cross-team communication, there are fewer opportunities to innovate. You’d be hard pushed to find a successful project that wasn’t based on team effort and shared goals.
Measuring business outcomes
The business outcomes of employee productivity are what get top management interested. The internal comms team might care how many people read or share news articles, but management care about the outcomes of greater productivity:
How much have sales increased by?
Have recruitment and employee retention rates gone up?
What is the impact on customer service evaluation and customer satisfaction scores?
Justifying new investment is much easier with hard figures on your side. In a 2012 report, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that social technologies could boost productivity by 20 to 25 percent and unlock $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value. They offer internal comms teams a variety of different ways to reinvent themselves and prove their worth to management.