Tag Archives: internal comms news

Measurement: taking the easy way out

It’s 2017 and internal comms still has a credibility problem – too often it’s marginalised in favour of ‘sexier’ comms; Public Relations, Marketing, Advertising…even Social Media.

To really prove IC’s worth, we need evidence to back it up. Hard, empirical data that proves IC’s impact.

For that, we need to turn to measurement.

Measuring comms is notoriously difficult, bordering on impossible. But it’s no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have.

The foundation to rock-solid measurement is to identify and agree your communication objectives. Without objectives, everything else is pointless.

The problem with objectives is that, too often, IC professionals fixate on outputs rather than outcomes.

What is an output?
An output is an easy-to-distinguish, tangible communication result — think email interactions, pageviews etc.

What is an outcome?
An outcome is something more subjective — think behavioural changes, corporate culture shifts etc.

It’s easy to see why IC professionals choose to focus on outputs, they’re inherently easier.

Think about how easy it is to share intranet statistics that show thousands of colleagues visited a certain page and stayed on it for a set amount of time – but does this really tell you if they absorbed the information?

Will they change their behaviour after reading the content? The real value of IC lies in its ability to perform ‘outcomes’.

So, how do you begin to measure ‘outcomes’? Well, once you’ve identified your communication objectives, you need to be able to turn outcomes into measurable data – either quantitative (numbers) or qualitative (words).

For example, your company has a new process that all staff need to use. You produce a printed leaflet, posters for public spaces, a company-wide email and an intranet story.

But how do we find out if employees have actually changed their behaviour as a result of the comms activity?

Let’s split it into quantitative measures:
? How many copies of the printed material were picked up?
? How many people opened the company-wide email?
? What were the statistics for the intranet story for the duration of the campaign?
? Line managers to supply numbers of staff adhering to new process.

And now qualitative measures:
? Ask a focus group of colleagues how effective the comms were for them. Did they pick up a leaflet? See a poster? Read the email, or intranet story?
? Ask the focus group if they understood the message of the comms. Was it clear?
? Ask the focus group if they have now started using the new process. If they have, what were the contributing factors?

It’s only by taking the results of all of the above together that we can start to paint a detailed picture of the ‘outcome’ – did employees change their behaviour? And why did they (or didn’t they) change their behaviour?

The beauty of this approach for IC professionals is that it not only proves your impact on the business, but helps you implement better comms campaigns in the future. Win/win.

Guest blog: Internal comms – why the best years are still ahead

I started working in internal communications in 1997. I don’t know if it’s more chastening to say 20 years ago or last century!

While internal comms has developed enormously in these last two decades, I’m not convinced it’s fully grown yet. Here are three reasons why I think its best years are yet to come.


The best way internal comms has changed in the last 20 years is its development as a profession. This is thanks to a handful of commercial organisations who recognised the need and desire to share best practice, accelerated by social media and how easy this made it for internal comms people to do this themselves.

The dedication and determination in recent years for our professional bodies like the IABC, CIPR and IoIC to make membership more meaningful has also helped enormously.

Thanks to this, we better appreciate and understand all the components of internal comms that sit alongside our responsibility for great content, which felt like the main focus 20 years ago.

The more we continue to develop ourselves to also deliver strategies, planning and measurement that demonstrate we understand and can add value to the organisations we work for, the more mature we’ll become as a profession.


Developing our internal comms armoury shifts the perception that we just exist to write and send stuff. Others have written more extensively on the importance of an organisation’s purpose, notably Christine Crofts in an excellent recent series of LinkedIn posts. I agree with her that internal comms has the chance to define its own purpose more clearly by taking the lead in helping to shape and connect people to this.

Great internal comms allows people to understand how their work contributes to their organisation’s purpose. In my view, nothing could be more engaging than people feeling what they do makes a difference to the fundamental reason their organisation exists. Internal comms has a huge opportunity to be the profession that organisations turn to first to make this happen.


The reason I got into internal comms 20 years ago and why I’ve stayed ever since is people. I’m curious about what people are interested in and how to grab their attention, and it’s exciting when you can harness this energy to connect them to what their organisation does, where it’s going and their role on that journey.

People should always be at the heart of great internal comms – we listen to them, talk to them, share things with them, involve them and understand the difference this all makes to them.

I recently heard someone say HR is the voice of an organisation’s management, so internal comms should be the voice of its people. There may be something in that, and it’s a debate that’s probably a blog in itself.

But if we believe that, we should say so more explicitly. Along with purpose, it has the potential to clearly define us in the years ahead.

I’d love to know what you think. What has made you stay in internal comms, and where do we go next?

Neil Jenkins

Neil Jenkins is the Head of Internal Communications, BT Group.
He joined BT in December 2016, having held senior internal comms roles at Siemens, Vodafone and Coca-Cola in a career spanning more than 20 years. Passionate about the difference great internal comms (with a heavy dose of digital) can make, and still yearning for Liverpool FC’s 19th league title.

Internal surveys: be right first time, every time

With so many plates spinning at any given time, it’s no surprise that even the most important tasks get pushed down the internal comms practitioner’s to do list.

Although 95 per cent of internal communications professionals say measurement is important, it’s the activity people spend the least time on.

This means that, when we do find time to commit time to internal research, we need to get it right.

During a recent meeting, a client of mine mentioned how surprised he was by the results of an internal survey he had conducted. A lot of the answers were so unexpected that he was convinced people had misunderstood the questions.

This made me think about how easy it is to get survey questions wrong. Consider how many times a day people ask you ambiguous, confusing or badly structured questions.

For example:

• ‘Do you do [activity] regularly?’ How often is ‘regularly’?
• ‘Can I help you with [task]?’ I don’t know. Can you?
• ‘Do you like [celebrity/TV show]’ How much insight will you really get from a closed question like this?

Of course, in the real world, most of us don’t stop to analyse a question’s grammatical structure before we answer (and those who do are likely to be struck off our Christmas card list).

If someone asks us a closed yes-or-no question to our face, we think nothing of volunteering more information than necessary.

In survey world, this isn’t always possible.

Ask a closed question and you’ll get a closed answer. Ask an ambiguous question and there’ll be no opportunity to correct someone mid-response.

Even considerate IC question masters who thoughtfully include text boxes for people to pour their thoughts into will invariably find that a yes-no question results in a yes-no reply.

These potential polling pitfalls mean we’re at risk of wasting our time and other people’s if we don’t get our survey questions right.

According to Elspeth Bradley, Research Director at Research By Design, internal communication professionals can use the following tips to keep their surveys on track.

1. Start by thinking about your key objective for the survey. What do you really want to find out?
2. Keep yes-no questions to a minimum – even if it’s just by including a scale of possible responses, as this will give more useful feedback. Make sure the scales you use are balanced, with a neutral mid-point.
3. Avoid asking two questions in one. This is confusing for recipients and you might not get back the answer you need.
4. Make sure questions are not ambiguous. If you’re not totally clear about your objective, you’re more likely to ask questions that are not on target.
5. When you’ve written your questions, test them on colleagues who aren’t involved with the survey. Ask them if they understood everything, or if there are any grey areas. Act on what they tell you.
6. Consider using an external research partner who can write questions for you and approach a project with zero bias (there will always be a degree of unconscious bias when data is collected internally).

Guest blog: the importance of understanding the user

I’ve stopped attending internal communications or employee engagement events.

I actually stopped a few years ago.

To me, the content always seemed to be the same.

And the questions posed were identical to when I first found myself in internal communications, nearly a decade ago, and the case studies seemed to be a tad dull.

Almost everything seemed to be on a loop and marginal success seemed to be over celebrated.

Around this time, I started working with some of the UK’s leading digital thinkers and quickly found myself emerged in ways of thinking that were totally alien to me as an ‘expert’ in internal digital communications.

Their user-centric approach to building products with a focus purely on delighting the user was a substantial shift from merely keeping stakeholders holders happy with little true knowledge of the project.

It was joy to work with the actual end users of the products and engage with stakeholders using data and research to drive decisions rather than mere opinion.

This approach led to the creation of some of the best digital projects out there, according to the IoIC.

And these all began with a sole focus on the end user at the formative stages.

They did not have a project manager.

Instead, they had a product manager running the show, supported by a handful of business analysts – something I have not seen too much of in the IC industry.

There is method in the madness. At the messy start of each project, we set out to discover what type of product should be built or what type of channel should be developed.

The amount of interviews and sessions with users is mind-boggling compared to the early days of delivering internal channels.

There is a landscape designer in the US who lives with her clients for nine months before she designs the landscape.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly.

I’m not suggesting taking nine months to understand your audience but a deep sense of understanding is essential before even thinking about the product.

This experience changed the way I approach IC.

Nowadays I always start with deep dive into Persons (and non-personas) and the Employee Journey: the two underlying pillars that enable the building blocks of employee experience.

This is followed by several sessions called Assumption Consumption, which takes all of the assumption towards an audience, a channel or a product and rips apart them if the evidence is there.

This takes away the painful conversations that may come in the design/build phases of a product.

I don’t go into the complete methodology here, but wanted to use this opportunity to nudge you not to ‘lean in’.

Turn around. Take a moment.

Spend time taking a long look at what is happening outside the world of IC.

Kevin McDougall

It may just help you create the some of the best products and services you can.

** Kevin McDougall is an Employee Experience Consultant helping businesses understand its people’s needs and requirements.

Kevin has worked with the BBC, Unilever, Transport for London and Hiscox Insurance.

There’s more to measurement than you think

Over the years, IC professionals have wracked their brains to find the most effective and beneficial means of carrying out measurement on their IC channels.

Tracking the impact of internal comms on employee engagement continues to elude even the brightest minds.

Now KPMG is leading the way with its Employee Engagement Plus Index, a new online diagnostic tool that looks at engagement in relation to proven drivers.

Tracking engagement as a single entity often provides results that are difficult to act on.

Without understanding what other elements are impacting engagement within a company, we will struggle to understand and put into action measurement results.

We know that engaged employees are more committed to their organisation and are more likely to go the extra mile. With new, improved measurement tactics the bewilderment that tends to surround measurement can be replaced with solutions that benefit both employees and employers.

Following on from our article last month that discussed how half of firms are failing to monitor intranet engagement, KPMG has provided an interesting case study in using measurement in a way that produces useful results.

This employee engagement survey is based on the understanding that a company’s greatest asset is its people, making employees central to an organisation’s performance.

Instead of looking at engagement alone, KPMG’s employee engagement survey looks at it in unison with the factors that are proven to boost it.

These include leadership, communication and work commitment.

By understanding what is increasing or inhibiting engagement, a business can use the survey results to make targeted actions that will achieve long-term improvements, including a positive working environment and improved bottom-line results.

Malcolm Pace Debono, Director for People and Change in KPMG in Malta, has expressed how it is critical for organisations to develop an engaged workforce.

The introduction of this employee engagement survey is definitely a step in the right direction.

So how do we use this to benefit our own measurement?

When analysing the engagement of our own channels, it is important to discuss not only the channels in isolation, but as part of a group of factors.

If your employees are your greatest asset, then you will want to ensure they feel they are being heard, they know their future with you is important, and that you want their working environment to aid their job.

By understanding more about how your employees engage with your organisation as a whole, you can begin to understand the part your IC channels play in each contributing factor.