How to show the true value of internal communication
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How to show the true value of internal communication

One of the hardest elements of internal communications is gaining the backing and engagement of senior leaders.

We can produce the most effective communication campaigns that drive action and engagement, but if we can’t show our value to key decision-makers and budget holders, then we’re not able to truly develop the business and outshine and outperform competitors. Not just through employee engagement but also with greater financial performance, stronger client relationships, and better brand reputation.

Communication specialists everywhere always have one constant objective they aim to achieve. Build greater relationships with stakeholders and leaders. Get them on board. Show effectiveness of the internal communication function and its strategic benefits to the business.

So, how can you do this, and what should you do?

How internal communication adds value

First, before we look at how to connect and engage with leaders, we need to know how internal communication adds value, and where it adds value.

There is no point going to your leaders without the right evidence and proof to back up your claim. How do they know you’re not just talking baloney? They need to see facts; they need tangible data to show the value of internal communication.

Tower Watson produced Change and Communication ROI report 2013-2014. This provided a clear correlation between highly effective communications and greater return on investment and outperformance of competitors.

Across ten years’ and six research studies, Tower Watson has examined the critical role that internal communication plays in businesses.

Tower Watson ROI report

(Source: Tower Watson Change and Communication ROI Report)

CIPR and IoIC produced a research report in 2019 – Measurement and ROI of Internal Communication. This highlighted the challenges around measuring internal communications, showing:

“We need to go beyond measuring just the number of clicks and to map outcomes to the wider business needs such as productivity, talent retention, reputation and innovation.”

IoIC

Make sure to connect and build relationships with other parts of the business. Use their data to help communicate effectively and show your value. Connect with HR, IT, Marketing, Information Security, work with these functions to tangibly show the impact and effect internal communication has on the business.

What leaders should know

What leaders want to see when they look at the value of internal communication is how this impacts the business in real tangible measurement.

Here are some elements you could review and report, which can show the impact:

  • Employee engagement levels
  • Communication channel metrics
  • People’s views, opinions, attitudes, and values
  • Industry and company knowledge
  • People and company behaviours

Other measurement elements that rely on good relationships with other areas of the business:

  • Employee retention levels
  • Absences and sick days

This data offers leaders concrete evidence showing leaders how internal communication has a direct impact on business performance.

In the Tower Watson study, it showed that from 2002, businesses with highly effective communications were associated with a 29.5% increase in market value.

Now that’ll make a good impression.

What you can do when leaders are onside

To have leaders on board, knowing the value of internal communication, how it can impact employees, performance, engagement, retention, client relationships and reputation, is what all communicators aim for.

When leaders are invested, the next step communicators need to do is get a seat on the strategic table. Be involved in the key business decisions and strategic priorities. Regardless of the strategic goal, communications will play a big part in achieving these.

Invest in your measurement. To ensure strong stakeholder relationships, they will continuously need to see the added value internal communication brings to the table. As your communication function grows and develops, you can look at maturing your measurement to not just show channel metrics but also measure wider business needs.

Understand how productivity, talent retention and innovation are affected by internal communications.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown clearly which companies thrived and those that suffered based on the level of internal communication investment. Those that hadn’t invested had lower employee engagement, a disconnect between leaders and employees, and low employee advocacy.  Those that had invested in internal communication and communication technology were able to quickly translate how they worked in the office to working remotely. Keeping connections strong, engagement high, retention high and communication strong.

Invest in your internal communication. It’s more important than you realise.

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