Organisations are now learning they need to pay attention to their people - not just their profits - to build a sustainable business. As a result, it has become more important for Internal Communications' activities to be tracked, analysed and informed by data. What is everyone trying to measure and understand?
In a word: culture.
What is organisational culture?
This Glassdoor study concludes that there is an important link between 'company intangibles, like employee satisfaction, and broader financial performance'. Among other findings, businesses in their 'Best Places to Work' portfolio have outperformed the overall market by 115.6 percent since 2009. There's ROI in them there hills, so it's worth investigating - what is 'company culture'?
Well, it's a heady mix of power structures, demographics, industry, leadership, personality, ethics, empathy, ambition, socialisation and and and... It's imposed from the top and undermined from the bottom - or the other way around. It's split into sub and counter-cultures, rapidly fragmenting, reforming and being made new.
Ultimately, it manifests as boundaries, goals, ways of working and how people speak to one another. These are the stories that hold corporate structures together.
Management distils the above^ into grand statements, like: 'We value passionate people'. The average employee promptly (and rightly) interprets those words as vague and irrelevant.
Progressive organisations have recognised this issue by putting it squarely in front of IC managers. 'Your problem now.'
Or, rather: 'Your job, as Internal Comms, is to produce messaging that actually resonates with people on a measurable level, creating engagement and alignment throughout the business.'
4 ways internal communicators measure culture
To understand culture, it's a 'simple' matter of finding tangible ways of measuring the intangible. Start to build a picture with the suggestions below.
1. Movers and leavers
Image courtesy of Jobvite's '2018 Job-Seeker Nation Study'
In 2018, 46 percent of (US) job-seekers cited culture as 'very important' when looking for work. Talented people want to join companies that can demonstrate they have a good culture - and those people will jump ship if companies fail to practice what they preach. Culture is the glue that makes people want to stick around, so use turnover as one metric to gauge successful messaging.
2. Employee feedback
Implement feedback mechanisms, like pulse surveys, to check in on stress-levels, happiness, empowerment and so on. Read these personal stories showing the impact company culture can have on mental health in the UK - spoiler alert, it's pretty major. Chances are, if employee morale is low, then your internal communications are not resonating. Might be time to change tack.
3. Innovation and participation
Image courtesy of Gallup's '4 Factors Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in US'
If your business is innovating successfully, your employees are communicating, collaborating and engaging in projects - a.k.a. they're 'getting involved'. Other ways to get involved include participation in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, D&I groups, training programs and social events. Look for evidence of a connected workforce in these spaces.
4. Content campaign engagement
In other words, copy what the marketers are doing. With the rise of digital communication channels like company intranets and instant messaging, you can track campaign analytics like:
- Intranet traffic
- Click rates
- Comments and reactions
- Top influencers
Like marketing, corporate messaging has to be driven by a strong understanding of audience. While, yes, internal communications shapes the narrative of a company culture, it must also be adaptive, reacting to feedback and becoming a reliable reflection of reality.
Communications doesn't have an end goal. There is no target. But, by measuring the right things, you learn to do better, next time.