Looking to gain insights on how your internal communications is received, perceived and acted upon? Running an audit isn’t the same as doing a poll. It is much more comprehensive, and the output is expected to help make interventions and decisions related to business goals.
While communication channel audits can give you some inputs on how employees are engaging with content and which pieces are working or not. Likewise, when you conduct a post-campaign survey or poll right after you get perspectives on what employees think at ‘that point in time’.
Since communications takes place real-time and on a continuous basis, there is a need to gauge how employees think, believe and act in relation to messages they receive internally. Here are a few points to consider while crafting your internal communications survey.
- Explain the rationale: Help employees understand ‘why’ you want them to participate. There will be already a slew of surveys and polls underway and adding one more might not be very helpful unless you explain the rationale. In the introduction, call out the objective, how the information will be used and how their details will be kept anonymous (if you they want to) and why you need honest and direct feedback on their experiences.
- Think of the employee experience: When you visualize their journey, from onboarding to learning, from teaming to performing; you are in a better position to arrive at the right questions that matter. Employees change roles, managers, locations among others. Learning about their challenges and how communications keeps them informed and engaged is important for the team to improve their experience.
- Try a mixed method approach: Just a survey may not give you the depth of insights you need to take effective decisions. This study is about understanding your employees’ choices, preferences and angsts deeply. Therefore, having focus groups can also surface insights you may have missed while running the online survey. You may choose to do a focus group after the survey or vice versa – the decision can be made basis the maturity of the organization, any insights you already have from prior surveys. You can even attempt asking employees to reflect on certain pieces of communications and ‘incidents’ that they engaged with. Avoid asking questions that may fall within the purview of the HR team and the regular engagement surveys. Also, avoid leading them to answer what you want them to. Be aware of the tone of the questions asked.
- Cover the bases: Communication happens at all levels in the organizations and some of it can be blind spots for internal communicators. Include all categories of communications and how employees perceive it – upward, downward, peer-to-peer and even grapevine. Divide the study into categories – Business and strategy, Leadership, Team, Channels etc. List the types of communications they usually receive and ask employees to rate and rank which they prefer or like to change.
- Measure the impact: It isn’t enough to know which pages on the intranet are viewed or what percentage of employees open their mails (yes, they do help to understand the sentiment) – the study needs to go further and gauge how do employees perceive communications and what actions and behaviors can change if it was enhanced. You can probe their views on relevance, timeliness, inclusion, alignment and more.
An internal communications experience study is a great starting point to transform how your employees perceive messages for the better and create a culture of inclusion. What you do with the results is as important as seeking them. You may want to also use the opportunity to enlist their support for future programs and become your communication champions.