Whether you work for a large worldwide corporation that employs thousands of people, or a smaller organization with a few hundred, chances are your communications will need to be reviewed on a regular basis.
Internal communications are the mainstay of employee communications. Businesses are changing at a faster pace than ever before. While it is often tough to keep up the pace as a whole, employees feel the brunt of lack of information. They are often the first ones to run interference with consumers when company changes are made or a crisis comes to the fore. But they are also the last ones to know what’s happening.
Policies change, internal programs are modified, and the various departments within the organization need to have clear communication with one another lest they operate alone and make decisions that will adversely affect another team and department.
But how do you know if your organization should do a communications audit? And how often should they be conducted?
What is an internal communications audit?
First, it’s important to know what an audit is before you can move further.
A communications audit is simply a time to listen to concerns, review communications data and format, and collect information to strategize a feasible solution.
While an audit includes your goals, what you hope to accomplish, and communications measurements, what’s most important is your employee feedback. And in order to be successful in that arena, you have to listen to employees.
One of the complaints employees tend to cite is that while they are given opportunity to air their grievances, such as during a town hall, they do not see any action on the part of management and executives, and therefore, they do not experience results. But it is the viewpoints of employees, as well as other members of your focus groups, that need to be digested. So listening is a key component of an audit.
An audit takes all the data collected and reveals where your gaps in your communications lie and offers realistic solutions to meet your objectives and priorities. The audit gives an overview of your challenges and needs. It can be comprehensive, or it can be focused on one area. An audit is used to create your strategy to execute the solutions you need.
Your ultimate goals in conducting audits are to strengthen employee loyalty and build better engagement.
Should you conduct an audit?
If your company is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to conduct an audit:
- There is a continual gap in communications (e.g., employees complain they never know what’s going on)
- Turnover is extensive
- Communications are overwhelming
- Your employees are not engaged
- Leadership/management and employees have trouble communicating
- Your communications haven’t been measured in over a year
- Your company’s culture is misunderstood
- Communications objectives are unclear
- Departments within the organization are struggling to work together
- External communications are not in harmony with internal communications
- Your internal communications tools are being ignored (e.g., emails)
You might be able to think of other communications challenges your company is having. But the thing to realize is that if you do not have a consistent communications strategy and you are not conducting routine audits, you are in need of an overhaul.
How often should you conduct an audit?
This depends entirely on your business.
- Do you have a large organization, particularly one that is global with thousands of employees?
- Is your company transforming, going through changes, at a faster pace than even you can keep up with?
If so, an audit every six months to one year is a good idea.
- Is your company on the smaller side, limited to one location with a few hundred employees?
- Are your employees engaged? Is your retention rate on the high side?
- Are all departments communicating fairly well?
If so, then an audit every one to two years is probably sufficient.
Keep in mind that conducting an audit should not be done with the mind-set of “one and done.” Businesses transform, employees change, and the way to disseminate information is a constant battle. You want to make sure you are doing all you can to keep employees informed and engaged, which is why a regular routine of conducting audits is essential.