Proving your worth as a communicator can be challenging. Beyond output quantity and the quality of the design, you need to collect, analyze, and present valuable metrics to illustrate the ROI of your team’s internal communications efforts (and educate those who otherwise discount it).
Fortunately, as a communications professional, you understand the impact internal comms (IC) has on the organization, so you’re well-positioned to communicate its ROI. How can you tie your communications KPIs to business outcomes? And how can you use data to communicate a powerful story to leadership?
The impact of internal comms
Research validates the value of IC in the workplace. Studies connect internal comms to employee engagement and researchers also report that transparent employee comms can “…reduce discrimination perceptions, enhance perceived organizational justice, and ultimately establish stronger EORs (employee-organization relationships).”
As an organizational function, the value of internal comms is clear, but that’s only the start. While it’s simple to collect some data is simple, other, more valuable data, takes extra effort. Then you must prepare and present that data for leadership.
Which metrics matter?
In short, leadership wants to know how IC has helped increase employee productivity or made or saved the company money. Most leaders and executives use financial data and reports often, so it’s best to present your data in those familiar formats.
When you are preparing communications for leaders, they will appreciate having data on your reach, readership, and engagement, particularly in comparison to other communications programs within the organization. You can also use industry benchmark data, like PoliteMail’s Corporate Communications Benchmark Report, to compare how your communications are performing relative to your industry, and gauge whether or not you’re heading in the right direction.
Connecting comms metrics with the bigger picture
To present the relative effectiveness of the work, communications teams can use data, along with feedback and comments — just be careful to avoid skewing feedback with interesting anecdotes or a loud minority.
Some communications projects will have well-defined outcomes, such as participation levels or the successful integration of an acquisition. In each case, define the current state, and the desired outcome, figure out how to capture the outcome data, and present a set of standard reports throughout the campaign. How did your open enrollment campaign influence employee participation? Did you see an uptick in enrollment after sending an email campaign that had high engagement rates? Use these correlations to show how your communications programs are leading to outcomes.
For broader measures, leverage the research that shows how effective internal comms programs can engage employees and improve employee productivity. One way of measuring productivity is to calculate the gross margin contribution per employee over a specific period, generally a three-month quarter. Realize that, depending on the business, communications programs have a lag effect. In other words, financial results for the current quarter are often the result of work in progress, so the programs you run this quarter may be more likely to affect the next quarter’s results.
Similarly, IC can help employees feel motivated at work — a factor that positively influences an employee’s intent to remain with the organization. 52% of existing employees say that their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job. This means there’s an opportunity for communications to help retain valuable employees. As you measure the impact of your communications efforts, tie those programs and key messages to your retention metrics. By motivating and engaging employees, while also keeping them informed, IC can reduce the cost of turnover — a quantifiable ROI that leadership cares about.
Identifying which metrics leadership cares about
Equipped with the right metrics, you can illustrate how internal comms programs are directly affecting the bottom line. So, which IC metrics should you report to leadership? Start by asking yourself this question: “How do our IC efforts contribute to our broader company strategies?” Then work backward.
As an IC professional, you’re well-positioned to communicate the ROI of internal comms to leadership. Ask leaders which business outcomes are most valuable to them, and map your communications results to those. Your work has a measurable impact on engagement, culture, and turnover. Now, you just need to tell that story.
Want to learn how to effectively show leadership how communications helps drive business goals and outcomes? Attend this FREE Executive Communications Dashboard webinar on April 5, 2022, at 1 PM ET — presented by Michael DesRochers, Founder and managing director of PoliteMail Software.