Topic: Measurement of ROI for Internal Communication
Author(s), Title and Publication
Meng, J., & Berger, B. (2010). How Top Business Communicators Measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of an Organization’s Internal Communication Efforts. Institute for Public Relations.
This study examined how and to what extent top business communicators measure the return on investment (ROI) for their internal communications efforts. The research assessed data from a 2007/2008 Watson Wyatt survey of 265 employee communicators and drew from depth interviews with 13 senior and award winning business communicators in four countries. Though communication effectiveness is an important concern of organizational leaders, the survey found that communication metrics are not widely used. Nearly half of the survey respondents (46.6%) indicated their companies used no formal assessment of communication efforts related to business performance. Only 17.2% reported that more than 50% of their internal communication initiatives were measured by business outcome metrics. Large organizations and high-effective companies measured communication effectiveness to a far greater extent than did smaller or low-effective companies.
Five aspects of internal communication were measured most often: 1) employee awareness or understanding of a subject, 2) the extent to which information helps employees do their jobs better, 3) the impact of information on behavior, 4) the impact on employee engagement, and 5) relationships between communication effectiveness and business performance. The three most common measurement approaches were employee feedback through surveys, quantitative or qualitative feedback from managers on communication performance, and levels of employee participation in communication-related initiatives. In interviews the senior communicators said the biggest barriers to measurement were insufficient resources, lack of research knowledge, and difficulties in determining cause-and-effect relationships between communication initiatives and business results.
Implications for Practice
It is difficult to define, operationalize, and measure internal communication effectiveness, and the profession has a long way to go in this regard. High-effective companies in the study appeared to do a better job of engaging employees in the organizational business (line of sight) and in maximizing employee involvement in internal communication programs. The most effective business outcome metrics for any employee communication program may have to be customized and adapted for a company’s unique culture.
Location of Article
The article is available online at: http://www.instituteforpr.org/wp-content/uploads/BusinessCommROI.pdf