Great communication is crucial to success in the workplace. Communicating well in a team allows for smooth business processes, developing great working relationships and maximizing your workplace productivity.
Part of excellent workplace communication is measuring whether your current strategy is working and identifying areas to improve. One of the most straightforward ways of doing this is to track internal communications metrics.
What are internal communications metrics?
Internal communications metrics are data sets that indicate how well your internal communications strategy is working — that is, the way that you communicate with colleagues. This is opposed to external communications - messaging towards clients/customers, suppliers or affiliates.
There are different types of internal communications data, including:
- Quantitative – numerical data, including email opens and clicks
- Qualitative – more in-depth information on the efficacy of your strategy
- Hybrid – a combination of statistical data and feedback
Share of professionals worldwide using selected communication channels and digital tools for work as of 3rd quarter 2021, by frequency. Image sourced from statista.com.
The reason for collecting this data is to identify issues in your internal communications strategy before they become a major problem.This also allows you to locate points of success and continue to use these methods.
Why does internal communication matter?
Internal communications are how you send all information to your team. It’s the core of a successful and cohesive team.
Without strong internal comms, you may find that:
- Your team makes mistakes because they are unclear on procedure.
- Time is wasted through duplicate work.
- Your team is not cohesive - fostering poor working relationships.
- Your external comms suffer due to poor understanding of the sales or conversion funnel.
Whether it is verbally spoken, sent through email or on pitch deck slides, internal communications are the bedrock of a productive business.
The key to a successful internal communications strategy is to measure whether your communications processes are working for you and identify areas to improve. This is why it’s important to collect and analyze internal communications metrics.
8 most important internal communications metrics
There are many metrics that measure successful internal communications, but not all of them will be useful to every business (or even situation). You may want to introduce analytics into every internal communication at once, or maybe you'll start off with one project to test what works for you.
For example, if you introduce a new standard operating procedure (SOP), you can collect data to measure how effectively this has been communicated to your team during training. An SOP for business processes is a great place to start measuring communications metrics, as they generally involve mass communications to a template, with little variation between individuals.
Here are eight of the most widely used and useful communications metrics to help you to get an overview of your strategy and what works.
1. Open rates
An email open rate is as simple as it sounds — what proportion of recipients opened the email you sent?
Open rates are indicative of two things, depending on the content of the email:
- Your ability to convey urgency and subject matter.
- Your ability to engage employee attention.
Firstly, urgency. Your subject line should clearly convey the urgency of the email and whether action is required. 333.2 billion emails are sent and received daily, so you need to make sure that yours is noticed in a crowded inbox.
Secondly, if it’s not urgent, it should be attention-grabbing and state clearly what is in the email so that the relevant people know to open it.
It’s simple to collect open rates using mailing software that integrates into your cloud system.
To improve your email opens, you can conduct an A/B test. For example, imagine that you send a PandaDoc shareholders’ agreement template around to your team for review. One half, group A, receives a simple subject line with no indication of action or urgency. Group B receives a descriptive subject line prefaced with ‘FOR ACTION’, with the email clearly marked as urgent.
Although you can probably predict which group has a higher open rate, the data from this test would provide an insight into the style of communication that works for your team.
Another important factor to consider with emails is cyber security and using an email security solution such as DuoCircle will offer you protection against malicious attacks.
2. Technology adoption rates
Workplace technology is constantly evolving and so teams are continually adopting new technology to streamline business practices and improve productivity.
The reason that this is a good metric to use is that your communication affects new technology uptake. If you have accurately and clearly conveyed the benefits and processes of the new technology, then you’re likely to see a higher adoption rate than if you fail to do this.
You can measure this rate using either a survey or automatically tracking when a new user has installed or signed up to a new service or technology.
To improve this metric, try using a communication platform dedicated to rolling out new technology and business processes. Understanding CPaaS — communication platforms as a service – is crucial to mass communication and giving instructions in a virtual landscape.
3. Employee feedback
Employee feedback is a largely qualitative metric. It’s valuable because it provides room for longer explanations of highlights or faults in your current strategy.
How you collect feedback will depend on how you and your team work, but is commonly done by:
- Circulating an email or paper feedback form
- Conducting informal or formal feedback sessions
- Automatic feedback prompts embedded into the system
It’s best to make acting on feedback a team effort, since it can be complex and layered. Consider using a Process Bliss process improvement strategy to map out areas of weakness in your current strategy and identify ways of improving these points.
4. Traffic variations
Traffic variations are the points of variation in the amount of traffic a site or piece of content receives. By tracking these variations for email communications and training documents, you can identify points of confusion or lack of engagement.
Internal knowledge sharing is vital to the smooth running of business processes and continuous skills development in your team. To optimize this sharing, you need to understand when the best times are to send out communications.
This is not a metric that necessarily needs improving but it can help you to improve your internal comms strategy. Send out important communications at the points in the day when your traffic is highest and avoid the points when staff are likely to be busy and away from their devices.
Take advantage of tools that streamline and standardize these communications. Tools like Scribe auto-generate step-by-step guides — making it easier to create, share and embed training material than ever.
5. Device usage
Work is now often done across multiple devices. You should track the devices that your team prefers to work with and ones that cause problems for communication.
For example, you might notice that hardware issues make traditional phone calling difficult, leading to poor communication between your team. In comparison, a team who uses a hosted VoIP phone integrated into a cloud contact center solutions system avoids these issues and has much higher cohesion and productivity as a result.
In this situation, clearly team A would benefit from a cloud calling system or a multi line phone system. What is a multi-line phone? This is a phone system allowing multiple lines to be active at once, making communication more flexible across a large team.
By collecting device analytics and acting on pain points, you can easily optimize your internal communication and improve staff satisfaction.
You may already have an idea about team demographics, but this is about using them for the benefit of communication systems. Demographics data you might look at to improve internal comms include:
- Staff distribution – if you work internationally, does everyone have access to the same technology and platforms?
- Seniority – has everyone received training in all communication platforms?
- Age and location – be careful to avoid stereotyping here, but most times and locations have technology that is popular, and so people from these times and locations may have a better understanding of a particular method or technology than others.
A remote asynchronous communication strategy can allow teams to work more flexibly and have a more open approach to communication over time.
Just keep in mind any data protection laws in your area. Demographics data may include some personal or protected information that you’ll need to ask permission to use for strategy purposes.
7. Employee turnover rates
Ultimately, employee turnover rates reflect the feeling of employees towards your company and whether you’re doing what you need to do to maintain employee wellbeing and team cohesion.
Communication affects wellbeing and team cohesion more than is often appreciated. Solid communication internally helps to minimize mistakes, maximize learning opportunities and a feeling of support from the management team.
There are many ways to improve your employee retention rate but, in terms of communication, you really need to listen to your team by:
- Setting up regular feedback sessions.
- Creating a company culture that allows for adjustments of business processes.
- Giving people at every level of the business an opportunity to give feedback.
- Double checking important documents and communications have been sent.
- Keeping a paper trail and chain of responsibility.
By keeping internal communication open and honest, you may be able to avoid other issues that affect employee retention, making it an important element of working life to invest in.
Internal communications metrics going one step further
If your goal is to optimize your internal communications, then you need to consider everything discussed here. You should also think about how poor internal communications may affect other facets of the company.
For example, poor internal communication is indicative of poor organization, which can have an impact on external communication and customer satisfaction. If you notice a dip in customer experience metrics and external engagement, then you should consider auditing your entire communications strategy, including internally.
Optimizing your internal comms paves the way to a harmonious working environment, an organized team, and a successful business.
About the Author
Richard Conn - Senior Director, Demand Generation, 8x8
Richard Conn is the Senior Director for Demand Generation at 8x8, a leading communication platform that offers virtual telephone services with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality.
Richard is an analytical & results-driven digital marketing leader with a track record of achieving major ROI improvements in fast-paced, competitive B2B environments. Richard has also written for other domains such as Invoca and Yesware. Check out his LinkedIn.