September 25 2007 - If you are involved in employee communication then you already know that one of the most important aspects of employee communication today is measurement. But so much of that measurement is focused on whether employees access the tools organizations use to communicate with them. You know, questions such as do they read the newsletter, do they access the corporate blog, do they find the information sessions interesting. None of these questions prove that your employee communication tools measure engagement which is what every CEO wants to know. There is one key reason; you are measuring the acceptance of communication tools, not measuring employee communication strategy. So here's what you do.
- Every organization conducts market research surveys. These surveys typically measure customer satisfaction levels across services and products provided by your organization. Sometimes they even ask questions about competitor products and services. Organizations then take that information and work towards improving the rating they received by introducing improvements to services, products and information.
Now many organizations have a human resources department that usually conduct a staff survey annually. This survey typically includes questions about communication within the organization, understanding the corporate vision, satisfaction with employee benefits and training and so on. What I suggest is that organizations include a supplementary survey of just 10 questions at the end of this survey. And these questions should be framed by selecting key questions from the customer survey and asking staff what do you think customers think about X? These 10 questions in effect become your employee communication engagement measure.
- Typically the result demonstrates disparity between what customers think and what employees think customers think. Once you have the difference measured between perception and reality then you have the opportunity to commence dialogue about with your employees about what customers really think. Most importantly it allows you to design employee communication strategies specifically to target that business issue. So now you have a business and know the key messages for your employee communication strategy.
- One year on when the customer survey is conducted, you ask the same questions and again do the same with the staff survey. What you seek to find is that the measure of the perception staff have of what customers think and what customers actually think have moved closer together and towards the organizations desired outcome. This becomes your business measure of whether you have engaged employees.
- This information is important because your ultimate aim in employee communication has to be to create the "Aha Moment". The Aha Moment is based on information that challenges the employee's belief about an aspect of the business. The information that suddenly helps employees say, "Now it makes sense", "Now I understand", "Now I can do something about it". It is only once you see this gap close between what customers actually think about an issue and what employees think the customer thinks that you have a measure that demonstrates your employee communication engagement strategy has been successful. If the gap still exists then the design of your employee communication strategy is flawed in someway.
- Finally, it is important that we measure employee communication tools such as readership of our staff magazine, access of our intranet and other tools. However the only way to impact perceptions of the value that the employee communication function contributes to an organization is to measure engagement strategies against business outcomes.
This approach to measurement is low cost. The investment in the human resources staff survey and the marketing departments' customer research is already locked in. You are simply adding 10 questions to the end of the human resources survey based on the marketing questions. The engagement strategies are generally low cost because they involve people, not tools. By this I mean that employees are involved in doing something differently to bring about change in an organization. The staff newsletter and other information tools already exist, all you do is tailor the articles to reflect the main focus of your employee engagement strategy. This low cost yet highly effective approach will ensure that you can measure your employee communication strategies against business outcomes.
Marcia Xenitelis is a recognized authority on the subject of employee communication and has spoken at conferences around the world. For more information on the types of employee communication strategies you can implement to engage employees visit her website http://www.employeecommunicationtips.com for a wealth of informative articles and resources.