To optimize your internal communications, it’s crucial to objectively assess your efforts and make necessary adjustments.

Effective internal communication is the backbone of any successful organization. It encourages engagement and helps ensure all employees align with company goals and are aware of key information. However, to optimize your internal comms, it’s important to objectively evaluate your communications efforts and adjust accordingly.

An internal communications audit is a way to evaluate your organization’s internal communications processes and strategies. The purpose is to assess the intentions, types, volumes and effectiveness of internal communications and answer questions like:

  • How effective is this channel for this purpose?
  • Do employees feel like they receive sufficient communications?
  • Do employees engage with our messages?

Research published in the Journal of Business Market Management proved that internal communication — from an organization and supervisors — significantly optimizes employee engagement. Additionally, a study published in 2020 found a positive and significant relationship between downward communication and employee performance.

Findings like these underscore the significant benefits of internal communications on organizational success. They also highlight the value of objectively measuring and optimizing efforts to achieve the most significant impact.

Why Conduct an Internal Communications Audit?

Here are a few of the main reasons:

  1. Identify comms gaps. By evaluating the impact of your comms, you can pinpoint areas where your communications are lacking or ineffective.
  2. Boost reader engagement. An internal comms audit can help reveal the types of messages and channels employees engage with most (and least), which may vary based on the nature of the communications. Knowing this helps you adopt more effective strategies and minimize the rest.
  3. Ensure alignment. By auditing your internal comms, you can ensure your messaging aligns with organizational goals and values while evaluating your employees’ ability to consume the messaging. This alignment can help you foster more consistent and cohesive communications.

Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an Internal Communications Audit

  1. Define objectives. What do you expect to learn from your audit? Lay out your goals. Determine what aspects of your internal communications programs you wish to assess and improve. For example, your main objective may be to evaluate your leadership-to-management and leadership-to-employee messaging. You may want to review the use of various channels (e.g., email, intranet, Teams) about the types of messaging you send. Or you might be interested in learning if employees feel they get enough or too much communication and how that might vary by topic.
  2. Ask good questions and gather the data. With your objectives in mind, prepare question sets and requests for other data you may want. You’ll want to collect (or request) quantitative and qualitative data through surveys, interviews, focus groups or existing data sets. It’s good to set a benchmark as a starting place for comparing data. Data may come from your communications team (e.g., types of messages, volumes published), IT (total messages sent from specific addresses or to particular groups/DLs) or HR. Suppose you’re evaluating channel use and effectiveness. In that case, you may want to survey employees about their preferred communication channels by message category, ideal frequency, and any areas where they feel communication is overwhelming or lacking. You can also dig into your inbox, Sharepoint pages, and Teams channels to pull out relevant examples from each broad category of messaging you want to evaluate.
  3. Analyze findings. After you gather your data, analyze the numbers — or queue up a data analyst ahead of time — and identify results and trends. First, look for results that show outstanding areas of strength or weakness. Collate your survey responses and conduct a thematic analysis to identify commonalities across the various reactions and multiple questionnaires.
  4. Develop actionable insights. Next, brainstorm actionable insights and recommendations for improving internal communications based on data analysis. For example, let’s say you review the data and find that most employees feel disconnected or unaware of the company’s business strategy. To combat this deficit, you may suggest a new leadership communications program and a monthly virtual all-hands meeting to loop employees into critical organizational priorities and share the company’s progress in the previous month.
  5. Publish an implementation plan. To ensure success, take your list of actionable insights to the next step by organizing a detailed plan for implementing the recommended changes. Be sure to include timelines and responsible parties. Don’t forget to loop surveyed employees back into the insights you have discovered and what you are planning to do. As you adjust comms later in the cycle, remind people that the changes are in response to your audit findings.
  6. Monitor and evaluate. One extensive audit can prove very helpful in driving change, but a continuous improvement process is ideal. You’ll need systems to measure and monitor the effectiveness of the implemented changes continuously. You might utilize occasional pulse surveys to assess employee satisfaction with the revised communication programs and adjust as needed.

A detailed audit can be your friend when your team feels change is necessary but is still determining where to start. The process helps you identify areas of strength and improvement, gather critical data, develop insights, and implement an action plan. By executing an effective audit, you can focus on what employees say they want and improve communications effectiveness, leading to improved outcomes, like increased employee engagement and work performance.

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