To become a truly data-driven company, you need to collect information from all aspects of the business. Communication tends to be a friction point for many organizations, particularly internal communication. Whether it’s cross-functional teams, collaborating on work or keeping employees up-to-date about the state of the company, it’s challenging to measure success.

Fortunately, there are a few KPIs that help measure the effectiveness of communication in an organization. Here are nine essential communication metrics to track in 2021.

Employee Feedback

One of the most important sources of information is the employees themselves. Providing a platform for employees to share their feedback and frustrations will give a clear indication of how things are being communicated within the company.

Collect quantitative data using simple surveys with scaled answers. For example, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the company’s effectiveness at sharing updates?” These surveys are a simple way to capture data and highlight trends.

Qualitative data through open-ended questions can also help add context to the quantitative data. For example, a department manager might indicate that being able to send a Gmail Fax would help streamline communications and shorten response times between employees working on shared projects. Another might indicate frustrations surrounding vacation requests and knowing when a key team member will be unavailable.

A combination of qualitative and quantitative data, along with the metrics below, provides a solid framework for improvement.

Internal Reach

Internal reach indicates how much of your company communications are effectively reaching employees. The simplest way to track this metric is through open-and-read rates. This metric shows what percentage of employees opened a company email or notification. If company updates are shared via an app or posted on the intranet, tracking access can also provide an indication of how many employees are seeing internal communications.

While this metric provides a high-level overview, it doesn’t tell the whole story. An employee opening an email or noticing an announcement doesn’t indicate engagement or information retention. It does, however, showcase whether people notice the communication attempts.

Click-Through Rates

When sending intra-office communications, the open-and-read rates only provide so much information. It’s the click-through rates (CTR) that are often more telling. Opening an email and reading it indicates awareness rather than engagement, but the act of clicking through shows comprehension and attention.

This metric is crucial for sending company updates and ensuring all employees are on the same page. It can also disprove or challenge the subjectivity of employee feedback. For example, if an employee indicates that the company doesn’t provide updates, but the CTR on update emails is low, it shows that employees aren’t engaging with or retaining relevant information.

Channel Adoption

Thanks to digital technology, the world is more connected than ever before. Depending on your business, there could be multiple ways for employees to get in touch with you and each other. In a standard office setting, this could include emailing, calling, instant messaging, tagging someone in documents, adding comments in project management software, or simply stopping by someone’s desk.

Measuring channel adoption showcases how many employees are utilizing a given channel. For example, if you introduce Slack to your workspace, you can determine how many people have joined, how many people have logged on, and how usage has been affected by the new introduction. Low adoption rates indicate a deeper issue in user access, training, or change management.

There’s also value in measuring adoption rates in relation to your communication efforts. Using the introduction of Slack as an example, you could measure adoption at various points in your communication strategy. You might determine that 25% of employees downloaded or accessed the app after the initial email. Perhaps 15% more accessed the app after a follow-up email. Finally, 30% more employees might access the app after you offer a lunch-and-learn training session.

Identifying these key points can help you refine your communication strategy for the future.

Mobile Usage

It’s no secret that the world is going mobile. Measuring mobile usage can provide valuable insights regarding reach and productivity. People checking company emails while on the go indicates a level of engagement that transcends the workspace. Conversely, mobile usage in the workplace could be eating into productivity.

It’s estimated that employees waste an hour a day on their phones at work — essentially a full week each year being paid to scroll social media. Increased mobile usage might indicate the need for policy changes surrounding productivity.

Mobile usage also provides insights into the best platforms for reaching employees. When they’re sitting at their desks at the computer, the intranet homepage is readily available, showcasing updates when they open the browser. However, if the intranet isn’t mobile-optimized or you have employees accessing communications on the go, they’re less likely to see intranet updates.

Time Spent on Email

Email is another time-waster in the workplace. It’s estimated that employees spend up to 28% of their workweek on email. Capturing this kind of data will show you how much of the workweek is being wasted on email and provide the framework for making improvements. For example, by creating specific email checking times throughout the day, encouraging people to turn off notifications, and so on.

Tracking this metric is also effective for determining whether an email is the best form of communication to use with your employees. If everyone is already feeling overloaded by emails, it’s more likely that they’ll scroll past a company update or internal communication, leaving it to get lost as time goes on. At that point, it would be effective to reevaluate email as a primary communication strategy.

Peak Traffic Times

Peak traffic times indicate when people are accessing the various communication portals. For example, this information could showcase that the peak traffic time for email is 9 a.m., as people log in for the day. Alternatively, the peak time for intranet access could be around noon, as employees go online to browse while eating lunch.

Understanding the peak traffic times can help refine your communication strategy, similar to posting a social media schedule. By releasing important information at peak traffic times, you’re more likely to catch the attention of your employees as they access your communication channels.

Employee Demographics

Effective communication metrics aren’t always directly related to the communication channels. It’s also vital to consider who will receive the message: your employees.

Understanding your employee demographics is a must for improving your reach, click-through rates, and channel adoption. The strategy behind developing an internal communication strategy should reflect an external marketing communication strategy. Marketers take the time to identify their ideal target audience and meet them on their preferred platforms; the same process works for employees.

Clarify your employee demographics, from age groups to location to position within the company. This information will help you determine the best way to reach your employees. For example, younger employees who have adopted smartphones and are comfortable with apps might respond better to an app with push notifications. Older employees might be more likely to access company communications from a desktop and prefer email.

As mentioned previously, the best way to determine how employees want to receive communications is to ask them. Send out a simple form asking employees if they’d rather receive a text update, instant message, or email for important communications from the business, their manager, other employees, and so on.

Voluntary Employee Turnover

Employee turnover is another indirect metric that indicates communication issues within the company. It’s integral to separate voluntary and involuntary employee turnover for this metric. As the name implies, voluntary employee turnover is when the employee chooses to leave the company.

A high voluntary employee turnover rate indicates that there are core issues in the business, which is typically a result of poor communication. Tracking this high-level metric over time will help showcase if the efforts to improve communication are working. Again, capturing employee feedback both during their employment and via an exit interview can help.

Implementing a Data-Driven Internal Communication Strategy

The first step in developing a data-driven internal communication strategy is to audit the existing processes and highlight areas for improvement. Taking the time to capture the data points above and turn them into valuable information is imperative.

From there, set actionable goals about where you want these numbers to go in the coming weeks, months, and years. Highlight the most important areas of improvement as a starting point.

Next, identify who should be working on these efforts. It’s beneficial to have executive leadership, human resources, as well as the external communications team working to improve internal communications.

After implementing changes and putting processes in place based on the metrics listed above, continue to capture data and track the improvement over time.

Final Thoughts

Data is the key to being more productive and efficient as a company. These insights provide clear, quantitative data about what’s happening in the organization.

However, it’s integral to capture the human side of the numbers as well. Empower employees to share their feedback and frustrations as they pertain to business communications. Then, use these important communication metrics to embrace the data-driven business model.

By Analytics Insight, first published at May 14, 2021