Capitalizing on Effective Communication: Communication ROI Study Report

Topic: Internal Communication and Employee Value Proposition

Author(s), Title and Publication

Towers Watson. (2010). Capitalizing on Effective Communication: Communication ROI Study Report. Towers Watson.

Summary

This report identified how high-performing companies inform and engage their employees in challenging economic times. The data were collected from a survey of 328 organizations that represent five million employees in various regions and industries, with an emphasis on employee value proposition (EVP), which refers to what employee can expect from the company and what the company expects from employees.

Companies described as highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared to companies described as the least effective communicators. Highly effective companies had a clearly defined EVP strategy and were more likely to communicate with their employees about the values of reward programs in a comprehensive way. However, few companies (14%) are revising their EVP, and only 42% spent time training their managers to talk about the company’s EVP. This survey also found that managers in high-performing companies are much better at implementing change, supporting the company’s vision, communicating with diverse audience, and dealing openly with resistance to change.

The survey also discovered an increasing use of social media. Highly effective communicators are making greater use of social media than their less-effective peers, and are more likely to report their social media tools are cost-effective. Social media were mainly used for collaboration and team building, adapting to change, and promoting health and wellness. The chief reason for not implementing social media was the lack of staff/resources. Despite the increased use of social media, the Intranet, email, and face-to-face communication are preferred by employees for business change messages. High-performing companies were more likely to have a documented communication strategy and formal measurement system than low-performing companies.

Implications for Practice

Companies can benefit by articulating their EVP, explaining how it has changed, and what the new deal is going forward. Communicators can help prepare supervisors and front-line managers in this regard by creating key message points and information packets for use. Social media and other innovative channels and approaches should also be explored. Measurement of the effectiveness of EVP communications is considered crucial to success and future planning.

 

Location of Article

The article is available online at: http://www.towerswatson.com/assets/pdf/670/NA-2009-14890.pdf

Posted in [Research Library], Culture and Values, Employee / Organizational Communication and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Towers Watson’s Communication ROI Study is an on-going research that aims to demonstrate the connections between communication efforts and the organization’s financial performance. The report is very informative, and I am particularly interested in the findings regarding the organization’s internal use of social media channels.

    To our knowledge, the development of new technology over the years has changed the organization’s communication landscape as well as the its internal communication formula. Today’s organizations possess a variety of communication tools to connect with employees, ranging from traditional phones, emails, websites, etc. to those fancy social media channels such as leadership or employee blogs, micro blogs like Twitter, instant messengers, enhanced online profiles, online chatters, social networking sites, and streaming videos. Social media, by its nature, is social, communal, relational, and interactive. If utilized wisely, it could make an effective tool for community building and engaging employees on topics of culture, values, wellness, collaboration, and performance. And this tool is especially helpful for the dispersed workplace with an increasing number of remote workers. With the aid of social media, organizations can better inform, connect with, engage, and retain remote workers.

    This study discovered that more and more organizations start to incorporate social media as part of their internal communication efforts, and that highly effective communicators are making greater use of social media than less effective communicators. While this finding seems promising, however, according to Towers Watson’s most recent report, only around 40% of these organizations see social media as cost effective. My question is, even though the organizations recognize the usefulness and advantageous features of social media, do they know how to effectively utilize it in internal communication? Do they have the knowledge, resources, and talent? The study also found that among those who have embraced social media technology, there is little consensus as to which ones are most effective in internal communication. So, how do internal communication professionals optimize the use of the social media channels, for upward and downward communications, and for information dissemination, listening, and community building? Which tools to adopt and which not? Additionally, corporate communication and leader communication serve different purposes internally. So which social media channels should be used for organization-employee and supervisor-follower relationship building, respectively? Another related and always-important question is: how to measure the effectiveness of social media communication internally? How to connect it to ROI? One of the reasons that the study revealed about organizations not implementing social media is the lack of resources/staff. I would speculate that the lack of knowledge in demonstrating the effectiveness of social media might be another reason. Management demands the hard data to show why social media should be invested as an employee communication tool. Or simply, why is it cost effective?

    While I don’t have good answers to all these questions, I think these are all interesting topics worth investigating. Some theoretical deliberations (e.g., media richness theory, uses and gratifications theory, social identity theory, etc.) could help advance our understanding of social media internal communication and provide guidance for corporate practice. Now, what are your thoughts on these topics?

Join the Discussion