In the financial sector – probably more than any other - success is measured in cold, hard figures.
So it’s a tough environment in which to be an internal communicator. If you talk to the CEO about things like morale and engagement, they could all too easily be seen as intangible without any discernible effect on the bottom line.
That’s why Fiona MacAllan (right) has been running a strict system of measurement for internal comms over the past three years at the Nationwide Building Society.
“Our colleagues in media relations very often claim that they add measurable value to the company because what they do can move the share price,” says the head of internal & change communication.
“I firmly believe when we in internal comms focus our strategic efforts we can influence and drive the business in line with the company goals – and measurement is our proof of being able to do that.”
Fiona, who will be a guest speaker at this year's IoIC annual conference from May 23-25 in Birmingham, admits that internal comms is a difficult subject to measure but says it’s worth the effort.
“It’s a no-brainer. I need to demonstrate that my team is adding value,” she says. “I’ve found that putting hard metrics in front of people means you can have a different conversation with senior leaders. It’s also the proof of the effect of what we do on a day-to-day basis.”
At Nationwide, internal comms has four distinct areas of measurement:
• leadership communication effectiveness
• project activity
• stakeholder satisfaction, and
• employee satisfaction.
Whether it’s communication from the leaders of the business or a one-off project, each piece of comms starts with a brief, looking at what it hopes to achieve.
“What are the key objectives? What are the changes in behaviour that we want to come from this? These are the kind of questions we ask,” says Fiona.
Once the work is delivered, IC team members survey employees to find out what they thought of it, and create a chart of how engaged the target audience was. There is also a peer review system and a half-hour meeting with the ‘client’ to assess the level of success - the client is asked to give a percentage on how the message was delivered and changed behaviour.
Measurement is proving very successful at Nationwide, so much so that targets are being stretched for next year and review and survey questions are to be more challenging. The overall target has been 75% but will move to 80%, with more emphasis being given to responses by the client as opposed to peers.
It’s also working as far as employee engagement is concerned. Engagement scores at the building society are bucking the trend compared with other financial institutions.
“They’re up 15% to 69% in the past three years, which is incredible considering the place the financial sector has been in over that time,” says Fiona.
All the facts and figures are invaluable to internal communicators.
“It helps to justify your time and your budget and your team’s reward,” she adds. “We’re living in very lean times now. If a team or individual is not adding value, you can’t justify continuing to pay for that resource.
“Measurement means if you have conversations with senior leaders, you can say you have challenged us to deliver a, b or c, and here’s how we’re delivering. We’re delivering what you asked us to do and we can see the organisation moving in the right direction and communication is helping that happen.”
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