Internal communication has arguably never been this important. Your department is in a new and unexpected spotlight as businesses navigate remote work, safety issues, and an ever-evolving environment.
The upside is you have the opportunity to make a significant impact on your business by keeping employees informed and engaged—but this opportunity comes with new requirements. You now need to be able to effectively document, measure, and communicate about the impact of your communications to keep the momentum going.
Enter the internal communications business case.
Why you need a business case for internal communications
You’re probably used to functioning as a small, scrappy group with limited budget. But thanks to the increased need for internal communications over the past year, you now have a seat at the proverbial table. You have the opportunity to secure additional resources and to build and implement more significant internal communication plans than ever before.
However, few executives will dole out investment without a clear look at how it will impact the business in the form of a business case. Especially in current climate, most budgets are closely scrutinized. You must be able to predict clear value from your efforts—this is the key to green light on funding for initiatives.
As Rachel Tolhurst, Head of Internal Communications at Amey, explained at the Internal Communications Conference (ICC), “Lots of [internal communications] awards entries fail because they can’t prove their worth.”
Business case basics—choose the right metrics
Creating a business case for your internal communication strategy might seem daunting, but at the end of the day, it’s just about aligning your efforts with the metrics that drive key business outcomes.
Ask yourself how your work will impact three key audiences:
• Your department
• Your company
Many internal communication plans focus on affecting high level metrics, such as employee engagement and employee attrition or turnover. In fact, Sneh Sidhu-Barker, People Partner at Rolls-Royce, recently shared at the ICC event that she believes employee attrition is the most important internal communications metric. Turnover has serious cost implications for the business, so reducing it even a little bit can go a long way.
Other internal comms teams get very specific with their metrics when they’re running more targeted plans. For example, Harvard Business Review tells the story of German transport company Reinert Logistics. The business executed an internal communications initiative in which they shared safety videos and tools with the aim of reducing damage to company assets (metrics to follow could be number of incidents and/or monetary value of damage incurred).
It’s important to make sure you get the metrics right in your business case—whatever you choose, make sure they’re relevant to your particular situation and align with your company’s strategic initiatives.
3 key areas for business impact
When we help a client build out an internal communication strategy powered by video, we focus on three key impact areas:
1. Incremental topline revenue
2. Cost optimization
Let’s take a look at each and how they can function in your business case.
1. Incremental topline revenue
Will your communication initiative move the needle on how much your company makes? When communication is more effective internally, staff are able to generate higher profits.
One of our pharmaceutical clients provides the perfect example.
This pharma company was finding that their sales team was not learning about their complex, new products effectively through existing materials. As a result, they were often asking questions of the product’s subject matter experts (SMEs). Access to adequate information is a common problem—studies show that employees spend on average 20% of their hours searching for information necessary to do their jobs effectively.
The company implemented a video learning program that helped to train up the sales team on their complex products—and measured their impact by the number of information requests received by the SMEs. The proactive approach reduced the sales team’s requests for help from subject matter experts by 15-20% (while increasing revenue 16% above analyst’s expectations).
2. Cost optimization
Another meaningful way to impact your business is by reducing costs. If your internal communications initiative can save the business money, that’s worth documenting in the business case.
On average, 12% of working time is wasted due to avoidable inefficiency. Our clients often optimize costs by improving communication efficiency. For example, most communications teams either rely on an external agency or an internal agency to produce their video communications. In both cases, there’s a lengthy back-and-forth production process, and the internal communications team lacks ownership of their messaging schedule.
The solution to this challenge is to implement video creation technology in-house to improve production efficiency and allow your team to produce their own videos on their own schedule. The possible metrics to measure in your business case are time spent producing video communications and the monetary value of that employee time.
You’ll need to know:
• Dollar amount the employee costs the company (salary plus benefits)
• How much of the employee’s time is spent on the task (a percentage)
• How much faster you predict they will be after your initiative (percentage improvement)
Multiply those three together and you have a forecast of how much time they will get back in their day—and the value of that time to the business.
You probably use internal communications projects to keep everyone engaged and aligned around the company’s mission.
Depending on your company culture, your financial executives may consider this more of a soft metric—it can be more difficult to prove the monetary value. However, research shows that engaged employees are more efficient and stay with the company longer. A Gallup survey discovered that the turnover rate for disengaged employees is 10% higher than engaged employees. Another Gallup poll showed engaged employees are 27% more likely to report excellent performance.
Employee engagement can be measured through the scores in your employee engagement surveys.
Another Wochit pharmaceutical client pursued improved engagement with a video initiative. In the spirit of the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, this project asked employees to create a video in which they introduced themselves, talked about a company value they identified with, and nominated another employee to participate.
The project got a variety of employees interacting with each other and the corporate mission and values. It also allowed people to hear from and connect with both executives and colleagues alike. With more people working from home, many employees are craving this type of human connection and personal storytelling.
Follow-through is key
Built your business case? Congratulations—that’s a big win and an important first step. But don’t just let it sit on a dusty shelf (or buried in a digital folder).
Once you have your targets clearly outlined, you need to make sure you execute against them. This means periodically revisiting your business case to make sure you’re on track—and course correct as needed.
Clever companies use Wochit to build engaging and effective internal communications strategies powered with video. Want to learn how? Get in touch today.