How can you prove the value of internal communications (IC) to senior leaders and executive stakeholders? As you understand the value and impact IC has on the organization, it is up to you to educate those who might otherwise discount it. Start by measuring what matters, advocating for the work your team does, and effectively presenting data to executive leaders.
The Empirical Value of Internal Comms
Fortunately, the more you dig into the research, you discover that data validates the impact of IC within the workplace.
One study found a connection between internal organizational communication and optimal employee engagement. A survey of U.S. employees found a relationship between internal communication and supportive employee behaviors like organizational citizenship behavior and employee advocacy. And researchers also report that by communicating with employees in a transparent manner, organizations can “…reduce discrimination perceptions, enhance perceived organizational justice, and ultimately establish stronger EORs [employee-organization relationships]”—just a few benefits.
As an organizational function, the importance of internal comms is clear. So, what measurements can you utilize to illustrate the ROI of your internal comms?
What Metrics Matter to Internal Communications?
Based on the empirical research above, two of the most valuable metrics to measure are employee engagement and employee retention. Your internal communications programs will directly influence these metrics, and more importantly, these metrics have financial impacts—in terms of cost savings and increased productivity—which both matter to the entire organization, and enable you to calculate an ROI.
Employee engagement. Effective internal communications programs will engage employees with storytelling, reinforce your brand values, and connect employees with a greater purpose. HBR reports that “Employees must internalize the organization’s purpose and values so they make decisions that clearly support [organizational] priorities.” While engagement is most often measured using annual surveys, there are also opportunities to leverage shorter quarterly or monthly pulse surveys to monitor engagement levels.
Working with your financial data, you can often correlate engagement scores with employee productivity or other financial metrics that executives value. And don’t neglect to capture the communications consumption data which indicates the reach, readership, and engagement levels of your communication programs, with metrics like the engaged read rate. These measures provide leading indicators to overall engagement.
Employee retention. Similarly, effective internal comms will help employees feel motivated at work—a factor that positively influences an employee’s intent to remain with an organization. IC professionals have an opportunity to remind employees that what they do truly matters, and they can help show how emplopyee work fits into the organization as a whole.
Using data to optimize and improve communications uptake, from the onboarding process through career development, IC leaders—who study patterns of employee engagement over time—can connect those results with employee tenure or departures. By improving employee engagement and retention, communications programs can reduce the cost of turnover and also provide a quantifiable ROI that executives understand.
IC Influences the Employee Experience
Effective communication programs can more closely connect employees with your organization and instill a greater sense of purpose, while also reminding employees their work matters. A solid internal corporate communications program fosters a more informed and engaged employee base that’s more likely to feel valued and motivated, and remain committed to the company. When IC can collecting and present the data to prove this impact, they can receive higher budget allocations and affect greater leadership influence.