Without research, internal communication practitioners are effectively working blindfold.
You cannot begin to measure internal communication unless you conduct research to set measurable communication objectives which then form the basis for assessing impact.
Research and measurement is the Achilles Heel of internal communication practice. This might be because most practitioners have an arts or social sciences background and so may prefer to work with words and pictures than with numbers. That is certainly the case for myself. However, during the past two years as part of my PhD research at the University of Central Lancashire I have learned how to love numbers and I have been amazed at the insights that can be generated.
Based on my research, I have now developed a simple formula that can be used to check the state of communication in your organisation.
This looks complicated, but it is actually very simple.
It is based upon the following four core enablers of organisational engagement: keeping employees informed about important plans (Inf), employee voice (Voice), senior manager communication (SM) and line manager (LM) communication. It rates employee satisfaction for them out of 100 then divides scores by four to generate an overall internal communication index.
This is much more useful than a ‘traditional’ employee engagement index that is associated with an employee’s specific job and other factors such as pay and rewards. It also recognises internal communication as a critical enabler of organisational engagement, rather than HR related processes that can be demotivating.
Of course, this is just a starting point. You can also use more advanced research techniques such as correlations and multiple regression analysis. They tell you which specific internal communication activities are most strongly associated with organisational engagement. This can be used for advanced strategic planning where scarce resources can be focused on activities that are likely to have the highest impact on what employees think and feel about your organisation and what they will do to help it achieve its objectives.
This becomes a very practical way to direct time and resources to specific, actionable, communication planning that will make practice more targeted and focused – practice with eyes wide open.