How To Use Surveys for Better Internal Communications
All you need to identify and track your internal KPIs ✅
10 July 2020 by Nikola Baldikov
Surveys continue to play a huge role in the understanding of demography and human behavior. They provide insight into performance rates, brand awareness, and audience wants. From schools to non-profits, start-up companies to corporate businesses, the usefulness of surveys can be summarized in one word: understanding.
Within the workplace, surveys help human resources and team leads (or managers) to understand their employees, recognize shortcomings and strategize for better outcomes. For businesses, the goal of surveys should be to determine the level of job satisfaction. Think of surveys as thermometers.
Surveys can be the trigger that propels change. UPS strike is an indication of this. Spurred by the discovery of poor working terms – as a result of a survey – a sixteen-day strike ensued, and was only settled after working terms were renegotiated and employees adequately compensated.
While some might argue that surveys – depending on the methodology used – are not a veritable means of identifying actual behavior, surveys remain an efficient way of gaining insight into public opinion.
What’s the biggest advantage of surveys?
Surveys gather qualitative data. This means that insights derived are based on the perception of the respondents. While this may be subjective, the likelihood of its authenticity – no matter the degree – and the fact that responses are an indication of the way respondents feel, cannot be overlooked.
Various types of surveys exist; from the traditional (including phone surveys, focus group discussions, and mall surveys) to contemporary online survey tools (such as involve.me and Google forms). Businesses can use a combination of both to gather data and make informed decisions.
Surveys also help automate your employee assessment and training process. Going through a feedback survey before a face-to-face meeting will save you time and quizzing employees about how much they remembered from the training is a fun way to evaluate your trainign process.
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Organizational teams need to communicate
Internal communication is the exchange of information within departments or an organization. It is useful for target setting, team building, vision and mission sharing, and information dissemination. It is important for businesses to communicate often with their employees, not just to keep them abreast of ongoing and upcoming developments, but also to keep the team spirit alive.
Organizations use various team communication tools such as intranet software, emails, spreadsheet programs, teleconferencing applications, instant messaging tools, blogs, videos, social media, and graphic design to keep employees up-to-date with relevant information. With the new normal brought on by the effects of covid-19, team leads need to take more proactive steps in communicating regularly, tactfully and clearly.
Oftentimes employees make mistakes, and show that they do not understand company goals and principles. This leads to target shortfalls, loss of business, and in some cases, open conflict. So what can be done?
The best way to determine the efficacy of team communication is to track metrics on communication processes. This can be done by tracking the analytics of their internal communication tools, in the response rate of messages, attendance rate at virtual meetings, participation rate on social media platforms, blog posts, media engagement and surveys.
This article will focus on surveys as a means of tracking internal communication KPIs.
What are internal communication KPIs?
From time to time, team leads need metrics that show that their internal communication efforts and strategies are effective for the attainment of goals and welfare of team members. Internal communication, like every other thing in an organization, must be approached like a project. Teams will not communicate at the desired level without set strategies and goals, and the responsibility for this falls squarely on the shoulders of managers. Among other indicators, managers need to track:
☑ Response rate to internal messages
☑ Number of clicks on internal emails
☑ Bounce rate on company blog posts
☑ Attendance during virtual team bonding activities
☑ Employee review of the company on external platforms, such as job posting sites
☑ Social media discussion of company by employees
☑ Rate of conflict occurrences
☑ Employee motivation
Why use surveys to track internal communication KPIs
The general impression is that surveys are subjective, and as I said earlier, this can be a good thing. Beyond the (quantitative) activity of employees, team leads need to know what they really feel (and think) of the work environment and leadership. This is where surveys are useful.
1. Find out if internal communications tools are suitable
Various communication tools have been highlighted above, but not all of them may be suitable for your company or team. An infographic might be more useful for your small organization than a webinar, especially if employees are constantly on the move. In the same vein, a team chat app might be more effective in disseminating information, than an email that is left unopened.
Metrics from uploaded media pages may indicate a low level of engagement. Perhaps the graphic design is too busy so that important information is lost, or the design is so dull that it is unattractive, or the video quality is subpar. Much insight can be derived from survey data.
Recommendation: surveys should provide multiple-choice questions, asking employees what communication tools are preferable for different situations. Employees may also be given room to note precise problems with team communication efforts.
2. Determine what communication approaches will work
Internal communication teams should find engaging ways to communicate. Your employees might prefer a fortnightly highlight of events, as against a weekly one. As in the case of employees who leave emails unopened, internal communication must guard against inundating employees with information in an effort to show activity. This is likely to be counterproductive.
Recommendation: survey questions should inquire about the expected frequency, mode and type of communication.
If the metrics of your tool have revealed a high bounce rate on blog posts, a survey can help you to determine why. Formulate direct, open-ended questions like:
Would you like to see related posts?
Do you find our blog posts informative?
Do you find our blog posts entertaining?
What should we get rid of?
Specific questions should be asked about the style of communication, and respondents be allowed to indicate whether it is too formal or informal, and if the content is too wordy.
3. Improve performance
A study found a correlation between employee engagement and stress. One of the functions of internal communication is to provide motivation and enliven employees. This should be paramount in all communication strategies. The probability that employees will demonstrate the required level of commitment when they are motivated, is high.
Let’s assume that you have noticed a decline in employee engagement in your communication efforts. One of the reasons for this could be, that the team communication is not clear, thoughtful or consistent.
Is your content engaging enough? Is it valuable? Will employees’ favorable perception of the business grow? Will they be motivated to work harder? Will they discover interesting things about their colleagues and the company’s business? Does it help them relax? Do they look forward to internal communication activities?
The role of the internal communications team in communicating company goals and motivating employees is significant to employee output.
Recommendation: survey questions should ask if the employee is aware of team communication efforts, and provide a rating system to rank the most effective communication activities. It could be emails or graphics, videos or scheduled webinars. It could even be teasers.
Surveys will help internal communications teams direct effort towards the most effective communication channel that directly boosts employee performance. They should also include a multiple-choice question on impressions about expected benefits and other incentives.
Questions in this regard should be as open-ended as possible, in order to establish the organization’s willingness to listen to employees and understand their desires.
4. Measure your company’s brand reputation
Oftentimes, a company’s reputation is decided by what the employees say about it. Team communication should not only relay business information but also human-centered news. Employees should read more news of promotions, benefits and rewards. This sends a strong signal of support and recognition. Surveys are an excellent means of measuring this signal and can serve as an indication of brand reputation.
Recommendation: Team leads can (and should) analyze metrics from surveys to determine internal brand reputation. These questions should preferably not be open-ended, as answers are likely to be based on respondents’ feelings. Instead rating scales with words like “Agree”, “Strongly Agree”, “Disagree”, and “Strongly Disagree” should be employed.
5. Engage your employees
Internal communication needs to fight for the attention of employees, just as much as any other thing that occupies their mind. Employee engagement is important to incentivize employees, educate, inspire and entertain.
How to get those clicks on internal emails? Use surveys to find out what your employees want to see. It isn’t enough to just send out information, employees should look forward to receiving it and interacting with it.
Recommendation: surveys should make use of multiple-choice questions to ascertain (in order of priority), the type of activities and efforts that internal communications can develop to stimulate employee engagement.
By asking the right, expertly-worded questions which elicit responses of what respondents think, as against what they feel, team leads can: improve internal processes, channel more effort into productive tactics, and develop new pathways for organizational success.
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About the author
Nikola Baldikov is a Digital Marketing Manager at Brosix, specializing in SAAS marketing, SEO, and outreach strategies. Besides his passion for digital marketing, he is an avid fan of football and loves to dance. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @baldikovn.