How to Conduct an Internal Communications Audit
Effective internal communications are vital in today’s hybrid era, where employees use numerous digital tools and channels to share information and collaborate. However, too many tools and inefficient processes can lead to distraction, duplication and resource waste. You need to audit your existing internal communications to assess channel usage, process efficiency and areas for improvement. We outline the importance of an internal communications audit and how to conduct one.
What is an internal communications audit?
While an audit is generally viewed as an inspection of something, the word derives from the Latin word, ‘audire’, meaning ‘to hear’. And this is exactly what you’re looking to do – listen to your people and data to evaluate the effectiveness of your internal communications.
There is quite often a disconnect between how leadership views the effectiveness of internal communications and what the wider business experiences. According to Vimeo’s State of Workplace Communication Report, 54% of high-level execs say that they stream major company updates at least weekly, with only 20% of employees agreeing. While another recent workplace communications study, from Axios HQ, revealed that although 70% of those delivering internal communications deemed their messaging concise and engaging, nearly 60% of those receiving the comms disagreed.
An internal communications audit seeks to evaluate how, why and when different communications tools and methods are used, by whom, and what processes are involved.
What is the purpose and value of an internal communications audit?
Conducting an internal communications audit determines the effectiveness of your existing internal communications tools and processes and if they’re delivering the right digital employee experience to empower your employees to do their jobs properly.
There are lots of insights to gather and benefits to be gained. We outline the key reasons to carry out an internal communications audit below:
Informs your overall internal communications strategy
The key outcome of an internal communications audit is ensuring everything is aligned with your communications strategy and what needs to happen to enable this.
The audit will help you answer questions like:
- What is working well?
- How effective are existing channels and processes?
- What do employees think?
- Are messages being communicated clearly?
- Where might there be message duplication and overlapping communication?
It will also identify key issues to address and opportunities for future improvements.
Informs user journeys/persona mapping
The audit will give you a clear view of where, when and what employees require from your company’s internal communications. And you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your audiences.
Again, the data you gather can feed into your communications strategy, so you can tailor tools and processes at key touchpoints, so teams and individuals get the most relevant information most efficiently.
Conducting an internal communications audit helps put a stake in the ground for your strategy and how the existing framework is working.
Once the audit is complete, you can create a defined set of benchmarks that you can use to measure future performance. This enables you to monitor the impact of the changes you make and the solutions you implement.
Builds a culture of feedback and collaboration
A well-run internal communications audit, with meaningful actions taken based on your findings, can help to foster or strengthen a culture of feedback, collaboration and knowledge sharing. And this can help to empower your workforce and increase employee engagement and motivation. Businesses that act on employee feedback enjoy an 80% engagement rate.
For more information, read our blog on the 5 Benefits of Developing a Knowledge-Sharing Culture.
Helps prove ROI and justify your spend
In an uncertain time, businesses are increasingly looking for ways to be more cost-effective. This audit will reveal great insights about your communications tools and processes and help you reduce waste and maximise the ROI of different solutions.
The insights will inform you about how to optimise and rearrange your budget to avoid wasting time, money and resources on the wrong channels, enabling you to direct your budget into more effective methods of communication. Plus, you can identify how to make better use of existing channels, maximising their potential and revealing opportunities to add value (or where new solutions could provide greater ROI).
7 key steps to conducting an internal communications audit
1. Set goals and KPIs
Before conducting an internal communications audit, it’s important to have clearly defined goals and KPIs. Start with the why – it’s critical to know why you’re doing the audit in the first place. Determining the purpose of your audit will help keep things on track and enable you to properly evaluate the findings.
Establish what you want to measure and what good looks like. So, identify your key metrics for measurement before you start the audit.
What should I measure?
Here are some common metrics for an internal communications audit:
- Channel adoption success
- Effectiveness of different channels
- Employee awareness of key messages
- Effectiveness of leadership communication
Key questions to ask
- Why are you auditing your internal communications?
- What do you want to measure?
- What constitutes success in each area you’re measuring?
- Can I provide ROI and what does that look like?
2. Allocate resources for your internal communications audit
A well-run internal communications audit will not be quick. It will require you to allocate significant time and resources to the project. Don’t underestimate how long it will take to collate and evaluate the data on your communications channels and processes. However, the value of the results, as mentioned, is huge. Especially in a time where seamless communication and collaboration are more vital than ever.
Who should be involved in the internal communications audit?
Involving key teams and stakeholders in the process will help you gather richer insights and a wider perspective. We recommend involving the following people from the company:
- Internal Comms
- Human Resources
- Senior leadership
- Representatives from key stakeholder groups
Key questions to consider
- What is our budget?
- What are our timelines?
- How often are we aiming to complete an audit?
- Do we have the resources in place to match our aspirations?
A successful audit requires careful planning. Spend time determining the best approach and the most appropriate research methods, to gather the data you need and ensure you can measure performance against the goals and KPIs you’ve set.
Key considerations for planning your internal communications audit
- Performing a channel audit – Start simply by outlining all the channels you have and places information is shared.
- Deciding your metrics, tools and processes for measuring performance – most channels have built-in measurement tools that offer various usage and engagement metrics to help you understand which channels are driving the most value. You’ll also want to get more qualitative data, which can be gained from online surveys, focus groups, 1-2-1s, etc.
- Gathering feedback – the qualitative data you gain from employee feedback is just as important as the pure numbers. And learning about your employees’ experience of internal communications is crucial. Use various tools and forums to gather feedback, including opportunities to highlight gaps, suggest improvements and give details of what is working best for them.
- User experience (UX) testing – test and evaluate how employees engage with different channels and gain an understanding of where there are bottlenecks or frustrations, what is working smoothly and if there are processes that don’t make sense or add value.
Key questions to ask yourself
- Are we fully represented across all functions, roles, levels and locations?
- Do we have the right expertise internally to perform the audit?
- Can we analyse insights impartially or do we need support from a third-party provider?
4. Get buy-in for the project
As an internal communications audit involves and impacts the whole business, you must get everyone behind it. To get buy-in, make clear what you’re looking to achieve and why. You must clearly communicate the value of the data and insights that the audit will deliver, the key benefits and how it will help improve the employee experience.
A great way to ensure your people are invested in the process is to share a project roadmap with an easy way for everyone to track the progress. Also, keep people informed before, during and after the audit, so they remain engaged and excited about the outcome and future actions.
5. Carry out the audit
You’re ready to start the audit. Remember, the planning you’ve done will only reap the expected rewards if you stay focused on your goals and purpose. There will always be issues and unforeseen events that could impact the progress and timelines, so be proactive and swift in your response and communicate them to the key stakeholders.
During the audit, track progress and document your observations and actions, so everything can be referred back to at any point.
If you want support with the planning or execution of your internal communications audit or advice on the methodology, reach out to our experts.
6. Draw conclusions
Once you’ve carried out your internal communications audit, it’s time to draw conclusions. Collate your results, analyse your findings and draw conclusions to make recommendations for change.
Creating a channel matrix can be very helpful at this stage. It offers an overview of your communications channels, along with what they’re used for, who they’re used by and the purpose, direction of comms and frequency, etc.
7. Communicate the findings from your internal communications audit
The final stage is communicating your findings. Based on your insights, create an action plan for addressing any issues identified, making changes to your processes or selecting new digital solutions to enhance your capabilities. And share this with relevant stakeholders and the wider business.
Don’t just present the results, tell a story with the data that means something to people and enables them to understand the bigger picture and the value to gain from the proposed actions.
So, that’s it. We’ve outlined the purpose of an internal communications audit, the benefits and the key steps involved in conducting one. If you would like support carrying this process out or if you find that the insights from your internal communications audit reveal a need for significant change or even digital transformation, get in touch with Cocentric to find out more about our digital experience services.
If you’re looking for new digital solutions to improve your internal communications and collaboration, we’ve created a handy guide to choosing the right internal communications software. Download the guide now!