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Three Steps to Conducting an Internal Communications Audit

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What’s the best way to communicate to employees? If this seems like a deceptively straightforward question, that’s because it is. Easy to ask, but much harder to answer.

Here’s the bottom line: every company is different. A highly digital approach may effectively connect virtually-based employees, such as those in professional services who are constantly on the road and access company information remotely. But, that same approach might prove a huge waste of resources in a manufacturing environment where employees don’t have access to computers. Similarly, relying heavily on managers to cascade information might not work if a company doesn’t have a robust process in place to support managers as communicators.

A good first step to creating a best-fit internal communications strategy is conducting an internal communications audit. In a new case study from our Employee Engagement group (below), we examine a recent audit completed for a global animal health company, where we identified three key steps organizations can take when reviewing their internal communications channels:

  1. Examine any existing research to help uncover any trends, themes or gaps that may inform the overall research approach.
  2. Collect primary quantitative research through use of surveys to gather any measureable data to help benchmark and track progress.
  3. Conduct primary qualitative research through a series of structured, facilitated conversations to understand the “why” behind quantitative research.

This holistic view helps communicators determine the most effective content and channel strategy, including whether to invest in existing vehicles or establish new ones.

Bob Bullen is a senior account supervisor in Employee Engagement.

Image by Kevin Dooley.
  • MARIE DEL PINO

    Dear Bob, this is an interesting article. I agree that running an audit is essential to prepare a strategy as tailored as possible to the needs of the company. Having worked both in the public and private sector as well as in a multicultural context, I can say that in either they run regular surveys about the internal channels they use. Quite surprisingly statistics for traditional tools (i.e.paper print) are still quite popular. On your point about providing support to managers when running engagement surveys, it is very important to do so too. In the last company I used to work in France, engagement surveys were recent and I noticed my colleagues were quite reluctant to this new idea. I noticed managers were relying heavily on information packs provided and as well as additional support of the internal communications team. If employees see the change the surveys are bringing, there should be more buy-in for the next surveys to come. It would be interesting to follow up progress results in the next couple of years and also compare the channels they might still use (or not). Really enjoyed this post. Regards

    • Bob Bullen

      Hi, Marie – Thank you for the comment! Yes, you bring up a very important point: in any audit, you need to show how you’ve moved the needle — that’s why bench marking is so critical. Once you can demonstrate that your efforts have had an impact, you can gain traction for future research efforts. It’s also important to demonstrate that you are actually committed to *doing* something with the findings – even if it’s simply providing a high-level report of the findings to employees and outlining the two or three things you will focus on as a result of the findings.

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