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How to Measure Communication Effectiveness: Best Metrics and KPIs

If you’re wondering how to measure communication effectiveness, an excellent place to start is with a reliable, free internal communications audit.
Written by: Penny Swift
how to measure communication effectiveness
Published: December 11, 2023

Are you wondering how effective your internal communications are? Not sure which metrics and measures to use to gauge performance and progress? 

Internal communicators struggle with measuring internal communication. According to Gallagher’s State of the Sector 2023 Report, 63% of those in senior business positions measure communication “reach” regularly. Most are in leadership, management, corporate communication, PR, marketing, and internal communication roles. 

Gallagher analyzed the intention behind internal communication measurement. They found that more than half (52%) are measuring mainly to prove return on investment (ROI) to their “leaders.” Additionally, 47% adjust their messaging based on what performs best, and 41% tailor content types based on their interactions with different audiences. Another 30% use the data to build business cases that back the need for investment in technology, content, and so on. 

internal communication measurement

According to Amanda Sheps, the Gallagher view is that there is a great need to assess the outcomes of employees who act on messages. What this means is that there should be a shift in focus from outputs to outcomes. She says it is also important to prioritize and improve “impact measurement and evaluation.” 

We have designed this article to help you measure internal communication and evaluate its effectiveness. We are going to demonstrate the importance of assessing internal communication. Then we will examine the tools and tactics that can give you valuable insights into your team’s interaction dynamics and explore how measurement can lead to improved employee productivity and engagement. 

Why Do We Need to Measure Internal Communication?

Efficient internal communication forms the essential basis of any successful business operation. A primary focus of this is making sure that a company’s strategic focus and goals are conveyed appropriately to its internal audience — the employees. Often overlooked, however, is the idea of measuring the effectiveness of these internal communications. Without proper measurement and monitoring, it is impossible to determine if the intended message is reaching its target audience appropriately and eliciting the desired response. 

A recent Contact Monkey survey highlights the challenges of internal communications measurement. Their Global State of Internal communications 2023 report states that 72% of respondents said internal communications measurement was their biggest challenge. Even more (76%) find it difficult to showcase the impact of internal communications. Only 28% disagree — with 3% strongly disagreeing that it’s “the biggest challenge.” 

In its The State of Organizations 2023 report, McKinsey & Company highlights similar challenges. Their survey found that 40% of respondents cite a lack of digital analytics capabilities and 32% lack software development capabilities.

Understanding how to measure communication effectiveness can play a crucial role in boosting productivity and shaping a positive workplace culture. So, let’s examine exactly why we need to measure internal communication in more detail. It has been, the report states, “ a glaring internal communications challenge for four years.” While the percentage is down from 84%

Gaining Employee Insights

Initially, measuring internal communications will help to gain employee insights. This can prove to be a vital resource for honing the efficacy of ongoing communications. Using tools like discussion forums, regular surveys, and focus groups can help understand employees’ perceptions and attitudes toward the messaging. This, in itself, is clearly vital, with Contact Monkey finding that nearly half (48%) of internal communicators battle with low employee responsive levels. 

Defining and Monitoring Communication Goals

Another important factor is the need to define and monitor communication goals. Every internal communication plan should have key performance indicators (KPIs) with specific benchmarks they need to achieve. Examples of quantitative communication KPIs include email open rates for internal newsletters, while qualitative communication KPIs may be gauged through focus group sentiment analysis.

Defining these KPIs can provide your communications team with a clear vision to strive towards. They will, though, need to monitor them regularly to ensure they stay on course. By setting a specific date and ROI target, internal communicators have a measurable goal that can drive efficiency and commitment.

Crafting Better Internal Communications Campaigns

Understanding how to measure communication effectiveness can guide the process of crafting better internal communications campaigns. This will draw on the insights gained from previous campaigns and should align with the company vision and the audience preferences. It’s a proven approach that will help to future-proof your strategies and ensure continued improvement in your communication approach.

Making Strategic Communication Decisions

Improving impact measurement and the evaluation of internal communications metrics remains a top priority for organizations in 2023. According to Gallagher’s State of the Sector report, it is number four on the list of priorities for organizations for 2023. Priorities that take precedence over “improving impact measurement and evaluation” are:

  1. Engaging teams around purpose, strategy, and values
  2. Refreshing or developing internal communication strategy
  3. Enhancing people manager comms

Of course, measuring internal communications can also play a significant role in informing strategic communication decisions. Businesses often find that different communication channels have varying effectiveness depending on the message, target audience, and timing.

For example, you might find that urgent updates are better received via SMS, while detailed project updates perform better via email. Such insights allow organizations to refine their channel selection, time their delivery, and adapt their communication style as per the desired outcome. These data-driven decisions can lead to an increase in market share and a greater communication reach for the business as a whole.

Improving Employee Engagement and Productivity

Measuring internal communications can also significantly impact employee engagement and productivity. A clear and open communication structure, where employees feel seen, heard, and respected, fosters engagement and satisfaction and improves productivity.

The McKinsey research shows that organizations with strong use of people analytics see an 80% increase in recruiting efficiency. They also see a 25% rise in business productivity, and a 50% decrease in attrition rates, where employees leave the workforce voluntarily. 

Knowing how to measure communication effectiveness is not just ideal but is crucial for maintaining and enhancing overall business performance. By prioritizing the measurement of internal communications, companies can improve communication efficiency, boost employee morale, and ultimately, achieve their business goals and objectives.

why we need to measure internal communication

Barriers to Internal Communication Measurement

Despite a commitment by so many to continue to measure internal communication, there are major challenges that need to be factored into the equation. The biggest is a lack of time and/or resources (58%), followed by a lack of benchmarking data (44%). Technology — or rather the lack thereof — is another significant challenge. This manifests as a lack of available metrics (43%) as well as a lack of tools to analyze or collate data collected (39%). A fifth barrier is the lack of clear business targets and communication objectives. 

But let’s turn back to the positives. 

Which Communication Metrics and KPIs to use?

Determining the most suitable internal communications metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) depends on your specific organizational goals, the nature of your communication efforts, and the channels you use. Here’s a comprehensive list of potential communication metrics and KPIs to consider:

Employee Engagement Metrics

  • KPI: Employee engagement score
  • Metrics: Participation in surveys, feedback response rates, and overall employee satisfaction.

Audience Perception Metrics

  • KPI: Perception score
  • Metrics: Sentiment analysis, feedback on messaging, and understanding of organizational values.

Behavioral Change Metrics

  • KPI: Change in behavior index
  • Metrics: Adoption of new processes, participation in training programs, and adherence to organizational values.

Business Impact Metrics

  • KPI: Impact on business goals
  • Metrics: Alignment of communication efforts with strategic business objectives, financial performance, and productivity improvements.

Communication Channel Performance

  • KPI: Channel effectiveness
  • Metrics: Open rates, click-through rates, and engagement metrics for various communication channels (emails, newsletters, intranet, etc.).

Internal Communication Reach

  • KPI: Reach and accessibility
  • Metrics: Number of employees reached, frequency of communication, and accessibility across different departments or teams.

Message Retention Metrics

  • KPI: Message retention rate
  • Metrics: Understanding and retention of key messages through surveys or follow-up assessments.

Employee Feedback Metrics

  • KPI: Employee feedback score
  • Metrics: Quantity and quality of feedback received, including suggestions for improvement.

Individual Leader Effectiveness

  • KPI: Leader communication score
  • Metrics: Evaluation of leaders’ communication effectiveness through surveys and feedback.

Organizational Performance and Productivity

  • KPI: Organizational productivity index
  • Metrics: Measuring changes in overall productivity and efficiency related to improved communication.

Survey Metrics

  • KPI: Survey participation rate
  • Metrics: Participation rates in various surveys, including pulse surveys and comprehensive communication assessments.

Communication Reach and Frequency

  • KPI: Reach frequency
  • Metrics: How often key messages are communicated and the breadth of their distribution.

Response Time Metrics

  • KPI: Response time to communication
  • Metrics: Time taken for employees to respond or act upon communication initiatives.

Employee Advocacy Metrics

  • KPI: Employee advocacy score
  • Metrics: Employee willingness to advocate for the organization based on communication effectiveness.

Innovation Adoption Metrics

  • KPI: Innovation adoption rate
  • Metrics: Rate of adoption of new ideas or initiatives communicated internally.

Selecting the most relevant metrics and KPIs will depend on your organization’s specific communication goals. It’s often beneficial to use a combination of these indicators for a more comprehensive, dependable assessment.

How to Measure Communication Effectiveness

Measuring communication effectiveness is crucial for ensuring that your messages resonate with your audience and contribute to organizational success. Here are five best practices to guide you in measuring communication effectiveness:

Clearly Define Objectives and Goals

It’s imperative to clearly outline the objectives and goals of your communication efforts. Understand what you aim to achieve, whether it’s improving the way employees engage, driving behavior change, or aligning communication with business objectives.

Setting clear objectives provides a foundation for selecting relevant metrics and KPIs. It helps you measure success against specific outcomes.

Use a Mix of Quantitative and Qualitative Metrics

Combine quantitative metrics like survey responses, and open rates with qualitative insights such as sentiment analysis and feedback comments. This provides a more holistic view of communication effectiveness.

The reason you want to mix the two metrics is because quantitative metrics offer numerical data, while qualitative insights provide context and depth. The combination paints a more accurate picture of how your messages are received.

Establish Baseline Measurements

Before implementing changes or improvements, establish baseline measurements for relevant metrics. This serves as a point of comparison to assess the impact of your communication initiatives.

Ultimately, baseline measurements provide a benchmark for evaluating the success of your communication efforts. They help you understand the starting point and you can use them to track progress over time.

Continuously Collect Feedback and Iterate

Implement regular feedback mechanisms like surveys, focus groups, or feedback channels. Use the data you collect to identify areas for improvement. Then adjust your communication strategies accordingly.

Regular feedback ensures that you stay responsive to the evolving needs and preferences of your audience. It allows you to make timely adjustments for more effective communication.

Align Metrics with Organizational Goals

Ensure that the metrics and KPIs you choose align directly with organizational goals. Whether it’s enhancing productivity, improving employee satisfaction, or achieving specific business outcomes, your measurement strategy should support these objectives.

Alignment with organizational goals ensures that communication efforts are contributing directly to the success of the business. It also facilitates clearer communication value propositions.

how to measure communication effectiveness

Best Tools to Measure Internal Communication Effectiveness

The leading integrated internal communications within a business setup significantly affect employee engagement, critical event management, and overall productivity. As such, measuring the effectiveness of internal communication becomes a strategic focus area for internal communicators to ensure a robust, seamless communication flow that fosters an engaging work environment. 

There are several tools that internal communicators use to evaluate communication effectiveness. The most common are employee communication surveys, internal communications channel audits, and various types of employee communication software.

Employee Communication Surveys

One of the most acclaimed tools used to measure internal communication is the employee communication survey. These surveys play a significant role in shedding light on employees’ perceptions of communication within the company. They also reveal employee understanding of the company’s objectives, leadership communication, privacy policy, and other pertinent informational materials circulated internally.

When designing employee communication surveys, it is crucial to focus on the key communication KPIs that tie directly to the organization’s strategic focus and target appropriate responses from the target audience. For instance, asking open-ended questions can help determine if the communications team has effectively transmitted a message about a specific date for a critical company event. They will also reveal whether employees understood the communicated details.

A well-conducted survey goes beyond the basics. It can lead to greater communication between management and the workforce, thereby increasing market share through higher productivity.

Internal Communications Channel Audit

An internal communications channel audit is another favored tool by internal communication professionals. The audit involves evaluating all existing communication channels, such as email, intranet, discussion forums, newsletters, meetings, and instant messaging, to determine their effectiveness.

An internal communications channel audit can help companies understand if their communicators are utilizing the most efficient channels to reach staff. For instance, if internal communication metrics reflect that employees are most active in discussion forums but the principal messages are conveyed via the intranet, the communications team may need to adjust their strategy.

Following the audit, internal communicators commonly devise and implement a comprehensive internal communications plan. This focuses on the mediums that the audit shows will yield the best employee engagement. Apart from boosting engagement, adopting the most efficient channels based on the audit findings can increase the customer retention rate and elevate the company’s market share.

Internal Communication Software

A pivotal tool comes in the form of internal communication software. Available in numerous forms via a wide variety of applications, this wide-ranging technological innovation is used extensively by many businesses to streamline and measure the effectiveness of communication.

Suitable internal software solutions provide a platform for efficient real-time communication, file sharing, and collaboration. This makes them a vital element in any internal comms toolkit. A built-in analytics tool can further offer insights on communication metrics including message read rates, active users, and engagement rates, supporting data-driven decisions when crafting communication strategies.

how to measure communication effectiveness

For instance, a company can use its software’s analytics function to monitor the effectiveness of a new internal communication strategy. If the read rates and engagements drop after implementing the strategy, it’s clear that some improvements are needed to enhance communication effectiveness.

Cerkl Broadcast internal communication software provides real-time communication analytics that will enable you to respond instantly, rather than pondering on results for days. Key benefits include:

  • Access to internal communications metrics including click rates, open rates, and content stats
  • The ability to track goals via intranet, newsletters, and mobile engagement metrics that relate specifically to the objectives of your team
  • A custom communication dashboard that serves to show how initiatives impact the bottom line of the business

Broadcast software also provides cross-channel metrics in one place, identifies which content resonates with your employees, and provides detailed internal communication metrics based on audience interest. 

What’s Next?

If you want to improve your organization’s internal communications, a good place to start is with a comprehensive internal communication audit. This will evaluate your existing channels to determine their effectiveness. Then we can get on with the job of helping you improve your internal communications plan. 

FAQ

What are KPIs for effective communication?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) for effective communication include clear understanding, timely feedback, active engagement, and alignment with organizational goals.

What measures make communication effective?

Effective communication is achieved through clarity in delivering messages, active listening, various feedback mechanisms, and being able to adapt to audience needs and preferences.

How do you assess effective communication skills?

Assessment of effective communication skills involves evaluating clarity, active listening, nonverbal cues, empathy, and the ability to convey ideas so that they resonate with the intended audience.

What are the indicators of effective communication?

Indicators of effective communication include mutual understanding, minimal misunderstandings, timely and constructive feedback, engagement, and the achievement of desired outcomes.

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