Three Ways To Demonstrate Internal Communications and Employee Engagement Value
In 2012, Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) and now part of PWC, published what I believe to be an incredibly insightful report called ‘The New Functional Agenda’.
The report highlighted how given today’s ever-changing corporate environment, there is a strong need for corporate functions (which they define as HR, IT, finance, marketing and sales) to play a far more strategic role in the direction of the business. That is, each department needs to find a way to demonstrate its value through its impact on performance results.
Unfortunately, while no specific mention is made to internal communications or employee engagement within the report, it’s undoubtedly of growing concern to those working within these teams. The CIPR Inside 2017 #MakeItCount conference emphasised this point significantly.
At the conference, my fellow CIPR Inside Committee members and I presented the findings of our #MakeItCount CEO research. The research was an investigation into the thoughts and perceptions internal communications amongst the C-suite. One of the biggest takeaways for me was while many CEO’s see internal communications as an important function, it’s yet to be taken seriously as a function. It remains too often a tactical function rather than one which can really help shape the culture of a business, act as an enabler of engagement and positively contribute to the bottom line.
Discussions which followed later on in the day continued to focus on how we can add value. Points which came up regularly were on:
- What are the evaluations frameworks we can use?
- How can we measure impact?
- I haven’t got budget to outsource measurement…what can I do?
These questions lend themselves to multiple posts on approaches (so they are scheduled in to my list of things to cover…!) but for now I thought I’d share my top tips for demonstrating value. For me, we will only become viewed as strategic partners once we truly understand what it is we do which adds value:
- Know what value means to your organisation: If you start to research what business value actually is (as I recently did whilst researching for my diploma…!) you’ll quickly realise there is no one simply definition of business value. Every CEO and board are likely to have their own interpretation of what value is. For some it means sales, for others it means quality, others mitigating risk (as shared by Committee Chair Jenni Field at the conference) and the list goes on. For me, value means having a positive impact on the objectives of the business I am working with. To know what value means, you need to ask and find out. If you have access to your senior team, try and find a way to ask them and find out. Then, you can build your strategy with this at the heart of it.
- Gather evidence: measure and evaluate: Don’t simply rely on gut instinct (even though it’s probably right) to form the basis of a campaign. Data and insights transforms your output to become an effective management tool. Use what you can – whether it’s system analytics, workshop feedback, stakeholder interviews etc – to demonstrate your value and the impact you have. Make sure it relates back to business objectives. You don’t need costly analytics programmes for this. Of course, they’re nice to have, but if you haven’t the budget for them, there are plenty of ways for you to gather insight. An article I wrote for Influence magazine has some tips on where to start.
- Build alliances: The Strategy& report as well as the CIPR Inside Make It Count report highlighted the opportunity internal alliances can present to internal communications and employee engagement. If you don’t have access to your CEO, or, think there is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your value within a specific area of the business, look to build relationships with peers who are in relevant areas and supporting the company’s priorities. Don’t be concerned about sharing the good work you do, or readily offering your advice and guidance on alternative approaches.
The issue of demonstrating value I think, will be a point which continues for a while. I am so excited that conversations are moving this way. It really feels as though the tide is turning with regards to the work that we do and the direction in which are heading.
If you’re needing support or just need a friendly chat about how you can demonstrate value and approaches to gather insight to support your case, do get in touch. We’d be delighted to hear from you