What’s your ROI for internal communications?

I’ve been following a lively discussion within a LinkedIn group [Melcrum’s Communicators’ Network] about if or how you can measure the return on a company’s investment in internal communications.

Several posters point out that if you are communicating about manufacturing processes and procedures, it’s easier to build a case for ROI if your efforts lead to quicker line turnarounds, less waste and rework, and other quantitative benefits. In a corporate environment, payback may not be as visible. Even if you do communications audits that measure the views of a representative sample of employees, you can’t draw a bright line between improvements in such factors as understanding, morale, and mission knowledge, to actions that lead to improved business results.

Here’s what some experts say. The Institute for PR has a posted paper that discusses the results of interviews with leading communications professionals on ROI measurement.  Consultant Chip Wilson has a posted paper on the cost of ineffective communication in the workplace, focused on what can happen when supervisors lack interpersonal communications skills. The  Association of Measurement and Evaluation in Communication has a number of related resources on its website including a PowerPoint that explains what constitutes ‘valid metrics’ – defined in terms of desired actions/business benefits. For internal communications, such goals may include reduced turnover, improved productivity, or an increase in employee referrals.

I believe ROI must be measured in terms of desired outcome goals and end results. It’s not enough to measure employee visits to an Intranet, or the credibility of an internal publication: If those visits and that confidence don’t translate to actions that benefit the business, you’ve missed the target.

Excellent internal communication isn’t a luxury, it’s a critical partner to every other corporate function. It’s also the lubricant that helps the organization’s components work better, together.

Earning management’s support for communications as a business investment may be as easy as 1, 2, 3:

1, Know your organization’s strategic plan,

2, Plan and execute with its goals in mind, and,

3, Measure what matters to continuously fine tune your efforts.

Blame it on my MBA: I value the bottom line.

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One Response to What’s your ROI for internal communications?

  1. Jon says:

    Nice work Michele, it’s always nice to be reminded of the need to focus on the bottom line. Personally I think that you can draw a pretty bright line between increased understanding, morale and mission knowledge to actions that lead to improved business results. The distinction between operating in a manufacturing versus a corporate environment is fair, but there are still plenty of good KPIs for us corporates to play with. Eliminating duplication of effort, speeding up access to corporate and competitor data, faster and better decision making, increased cross functional collaboration, and easier identification of subject matter experts spring to mind. I love the simplicity of your 3 point manifesto for securing high level support. Spot on!

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