Internal Communications Metrics: Five Steps To Success

Anna Westerman - March 12, 2024

How are your page views measuring up? Do you know your dwell time? What’s your click-through rate? This is the other side of internal communications. It’s the back end, where the hard measurement and analytics take place. Because, although everyone else sees the posts, the podcasts, the chatrooms and the surveys, they’re not the whole story. Unless you’re carefully measuring the impact of your messaging, you’re shooting in the dark.

It's important to ask yourself those difficult questions. Are your channels reaching out across your entire workforce? Do even your most remote staff members know and understand your company vision? Did anyone actually watch that video report you sent out last week? And, did the core message hit home, or was it lost in the noise?

Gatehouse survey of internal communications professionals revealed a worrying statistic: two-thirds don’t check reports or dashboards to track the impact of their messaging regularly. And, to top it off, the majority of leaders fail to ask for internal communications metrics at all.

This is even more surprising when you consider that tracking performance is a key element of business strategy. You can’t imagine a Sales Department being unable to tell you their monthly sales revenue. Or a Marketing Department which doesn’t report on the inbound leads they’ve generated. Even Tech teams measure their successes in terms of ticket resolutions and user error rates. But many of us still rely on guesswork when it comes to internal communications measurement.

Internal Communications App

Why are internal communications metrics important?

Understanding which internal communication channels are most effective is a crucial element of any internal communication professional’s role. You need to make sure that your messages have the right vehicle to meet your needs.

If you want to deliver lasting positive change to your organisation, you need to know that your channels can create environments that encourage engagement, communication, and innovation across your entire workforce.

How to measure internal communications

Like many operational processes, you need to start by auditing your existing channels. Every internal communications strategy should operate with the full awareness of which channels you have, and which channels people use (these can be different things!).

Then, you’ll need to determine the effectiveness of those channels in delivering messages and engaging your workforce. Next, you need to measure the success of your channels. To do this, you need to set specific goals and determine which internal communications metrics matter most to you. These metrics can include measurables such as productivity rates, employee engagement or staff retention. Every organisation will have a different set of internal communication measurements based on the size and development of their business.

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The five steps you need to follow

Step #1: Take an inventory of your channels

Which channels does your company have in place for employee communication? Business communication channels broadly fall into two categories: operational and internal communication.

Operational channels are the communications platforms your staff use as part of their day-to-day work. Since the pandemic pushed us into embracing these platforms, they have become a primary source of communication between team members. Operational channels include:

  • Email
  • Teams
  • Zoom
  • Slack

Internal communication channels are the ones your business uses to deliver top-level strategy, messaging and mission-critical information within the organisation. These might include:

As you can see, there is potential to have some crossover, especially with the use of email. This is why an internal communications audit should include all your channels, not just the ones used for internal messaging.

 Step #2: Determine whether your channels are fit for purpose

Effective communication in the workplace relies on channels that are delivering at peak performance. Test the quality of your internal communications channels by asking yourself the following questions:

Do your channels reach everyone?

It sounds simple, but it’s always good to check whether everyone has access to your channels. With the shift to hybrid working patterns, ensuring that staff working remotely have the same opportunities to interact is even more vital. Communicating with employees shouldn’t be dependent on their location. You need to be able to reach everyone simultaneously, whether in the office, at home, or on the road.

Do your channels facilitate two-way, group and enterprise-wide communication?

Successful internal communication channels provide two-way interaction. It’s one of the critical internal communication best practices. If you want your employees to fully engage with your messaging, you need to give them a means to do so. Sometimes, direct messaging isn’t enough. Effective channels provide a forum for interaction that might include:

  • News
  • Innovation
  • Polls
  • Events
  • Group conversations
  • Recognition and celebrations
  • Blogs
  • Video

Why use an internal communications app?

Rather than setting up each of these channels individually, consider an internal communications app. It offers all these two-way channels in one simple solution.

It puts direct communications into the hands of every employee. By allowing staff to use their favourite means of communication, whichever hardware or software platform they prefer, it removes barriers to connection. In-built modules make it easy to promote interaction and engagement, encouraging peer to peer co-operation, communication and collaboration at the swipe of a screen.



 Step #3: Choose your internal communications metrics

Data is becoming more and more accessible. Most internal communication software focuses heavily on delivering internal communication reports and dashboards. This allows you to measure specific metrics and determine the effectiveness of your channels.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to selecting internal communication metrics. You need to choose the metrics that match your specific goals and objectives. And, you also need to take the characteristics of your audience, channels, and content into consideration.

Common internal communication metrics to consider include:

  • Reach: how many employees have access to and receive your messaging?
  • Engagement: how many employees respond to, interact with, or share your messaging?
  • Approval: how happy are employees with the quality, relevance, and frequency of your messaging?
  • Outcome: how does your messaging influence employee behaviour, attitudes or performance?

Step #4: Collect and analyse your internal communications metrics

So, now you’ve chosen your metrics, you need to collect them for analysis. There are different methods and tools available for collecting internal communication metrics. It depends on the type of metric and channel being measured.

Surveys are a key method for gaining employee feedback on their satisfaction, preferences, and opinions about messaging. Engagement rates can include responses or comments, but most importantly, engagement is best measured by looking at employee behaviours. While not a metric you can attach a numerical value to, you can easily use internal communication surveys, polls and employee pulse to determine how effective your company messaging has been.

When you survey staff, remember to focus on the three main drivers of employee performance. Every internal communication definition should cover these key areas:

  • connecting to company goals
  • peer to peer commitment
  • developing the right capabilities

Moving beyond the survey, you’ll also need to employ analytics tools. It’s important to get a blend of hard data and employee sentiment to get a clear picture of your internal communications channels. According to research from Gartner, 59% of organisations will soon be using engagement data from sources other than formal surveys.

Analytics tools can track and measure reach and engagement metrics such as:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Page views
  • Dwell time
  • Social shares

“The increased use of real-time analytics and recommendation engines in both consumer and business technologies has raised concern that feedback gathered from traditional engagement surveys every two years (or even yearly) is not frequent enough to provide a complete and current perspective”

Gartner Senior Director Analyst, Helen Poitevin

The benefits of an app

An internal communications app is an invaluable tool for measuring metrics. It’s perfect for conducting surveys, polls, and feedback. Survey requests are sent directly to each employee in the same format at the same time. As employees complete the survey, you receive feedback in real-time, enabling you to gauge opinions at a precise time. An internal communications dashboard will allow you to assess performance at a glance, giving you instant access to analytic tools.

Schedule regular feedback opportunities into your internal communication plan, and you’ll start building an accurate picture of how your metrics are performing.

 Step #5: Benchmark, test, and improve your channels

Now that you have your internal communications metrics in place, you can start benchmarking the effectiveness of your channels. From there, you can start testing new things and improving the delivery and engagement of your corporate messaging.

Only by testing and analysing your channels can you really improve internal communication. And don’t be afraid to acknowledge poor performance. If your internal communications report has revealed that one of your channels isn’t pulling its weight, consider shutting it down and reinvesting time, money and effort into the channels that work.

Since the pandemic, many companies have been forced to take a close look at how their channels stand up to communication in a crisis. It is a highly effective measure of your channels’ effectiveness to examine how well they reach every employee in an emergency. Did the right content reach the right audience at the right time? If not, it’s time to take stock.

The take-home message? Metrics matter

Metrics are more than just numbers or data. They are the key to discovering whether you’re meeting your internal communications goals, or whether you’re missing the mark.

Internal communications metrics will help you measure the strengths and weaknesses of your channels and messaging. They will also help you to demonstrate the value and ROI of your internal communication process to management and stakeholders. In short, they’ll help you improve your internal communication strategy by identifying what works, what doesn't, and what needs to change.

The best practice advice is to measure metrics whenever you can. The more data you can gather, the more effective you can make your internal communication tools. These valuable engagement channels should not be static elements of your business. To be agile, effective and productive as an organisation, your communications channels must be too.

Without effective internal communication channels, making lasting changes within your organisation becomes a serious challenge. Employee advocacy declines, and innovation stagnates.

Today, this is more important than ever. With remote workers, people on the move and disconnected employees, the hard-to-reach workforce has presented a new set of unique challenges. You need to make sure that your channels are up to the task. The way to do this? Track your internal communications metrics.

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