The internal communications metrics that matter to leaders

Knowing that your internal comms strategy is helping to improve business performance and being able to prove it are two very different things. As internal communicators strive to demonstrate value and embrace strategic advisory roles, having a strong command of critical data points is essential. So, what are the metrics that matter most to leaders, and how can you use them to secure the investment you need to take your strategy to the next level?

IC Metrics

The value of data to internal comms

It's well understood that the quality of an organization's internal communications has a direct impact on business performance, but proving this fact has been a longstanding challenge.

Today, 71% of executives say that employee engagement is critical to their company’s success, meaning leaders are more invested than ever in understanding how departments are contributing to positive engagement trends. At the same time, we're seeing internal comms budgets stagnate.

To reverse this trend and get the investment needed to deliver an impactful comms strategy, internal communicators need to be able to demonstrate value and prove ROI at the highest levels. 

The good news is, with many enterprises having undergone rapid digital transformations post-pandemic, we now have greater access to data. The challenge is knowing how to turn that data into insights that help leaders understand what employees need to be engaged and how our strategies are adding value.

To embrace the strategic advisory role that many internal communicators find themselves in today and maintain their seat at the leadership table, keen command of data is critical. So what is the data that matters most to leaders?

"Internal communicators need to give credible, knowledgeable, researched, evidence-based, robust advice that’s going to get leadership to take notice and act upon what they’re saying. Whenever you’re trying to influence, you need to have a robust ‘why’. If you have an opinion, you should have data and evidence to back yourself up. It's important to think about metrics and use it as an important bridge up to share."

Jennifer Sproul - Chief Executive at IoIC

Why internal communication metrics can be tricky

When it comes to proving your worth to leadership, data needs to be at the heart of any conversation. Knowing that you’re having an impact on business performance and having the data to prove it are two very different things, and the latter can be hard to achieve.

According to research by Gallagher, two-thirds of internal communicators don’t check their reports or dashboards on a regular basis, and the majority of leaders fail to ask for internal communications metrics at all. Why is this? Lack of time is one reason internal communicators struggle to focus on data interpretation, but another big barrier is confusion around how to turn intranet analytics into insights. With so much data available to mine, knowing what's important isn't always easy.

But as technology matures, so do analytics capabilities. Today, the new generation of intranets, commonly referred to as employee experience platforms, come equipt with pre-built dashboards and rich visualizations that make processing large volumes of data easier than ever before. 

So now the question is, what are the metrics that you should be surfacing for your leaders? How can you use improved access to data to prove your worth and make the case for further investment?

What are the internal communications metrics that prove value?

When mining through the data and looking at how to feed back to leadership, consider the following metrics:

#1. Time saved

Reporting back on the average time it takes your employees to complete tasks is an important metric to show leadership. Productivity is one of the keys to business success, as productive companies have 30-50% higher operating margins than their less productive counterparts.

If it takes a user less time to find what they are looking for, whether it’s the answer to a question, a document, or the right person to talk to, it can prove to have demonstrable benefits. McKinsey found that knowledge workers still spend 19% of their time searching for and gathering information.

Proving that your employees can complete tasks and find the information they need quickly through the intranet – essentially working smarter, not harder – should be something that leadership is interested in knowing.

Take a look at Shell, who were able to show that the business was saving $41m in increased productivity with their new and improved employee experience platform. Time-to-task testing revealed that employees could complete common tasks 82 seconds faster, equating to over 3.5k hours saved across the enterprise each day. 

Case Study

Shell powers employee experience with a Unily intranet

Discover how Shell is transforming employee experience for 82k employees with Unily, driving savings of over $42m a year in productivity gains.

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#2. Search accuracy

Search accuracy might not seem like an obvious choice, but the more accurate the search result, the higher the employee productivity is. According to the International Data Corporation, today’s worker spends 30% of their workday searching for information. The longer it takes them to find this information, the longer it takes them to finalize the task at hand.

49% of full-time employees across various industries and departments have trouble locating documents, so feeding back a high percentage of search accuracy shows to leadership just how your employee experience platform is having a positive impact on productivity – particularly if your search center also pulls in all external tools and applications that are integrated.

Search flyout

Estee Lauder Companies were able to show that search accuracy increased by 300% following the launch of MyELC. By giving employees a single platform to search for information stored across disparate repositories from ServiceNow to SharePoint, ELC was able to reduce platform switching and ensure easy access to knowledge. Calculated time-savings totaled 2 hours per week for the average employee, proving the platform's value to the business.

Case Study

The Estée Lauder Companies: Designing the world's best intranet

Discover how The Estée Lauder Companies is transforming employee experience and internal communications for 60k+ global employees with Unily's employee experience platform. Get an exclusive look inside the world's best intranet of 2022 and learn why MyELC made history as the first-ever beauty company intranet to feature in the Nielsen Norman Group's Intranet Design Annual.

Get the case study

#3. Platform adoption

For your platform to deliver business value, your people need to be using it. A high-quality intranet is a significant business investment, so being able to prove that employees are engaging with it in the first place shows your leaders that it's an investment worth maintaining. 

Keep track of adoption figures year-on-year and look to prove ongoing adoption. Don't just look at how many employees are looking at the homepage, but how many users are clicking away and where they're going. 

Social analytics

#4. Culture impact

After the impact that the Great Resignation had on employers worldwide, it’s no surprise that retention is now a higher priority than ever before. When it comes to employee retention, the quality of your company culture is a deciding factor for many employees. A Glassdoor survey found that 56% of workers ranked a strong workplace culture as being more important to them than salary.

Leaders are looking to internal comms and HR departments to understand how they contribute to a positive company culture. So what is the data you can lean on to prove you're making an impact?

Employee recognition is a crucial part of building a strong culture where every employee feels valued and motivated to bring their best self to work. If your intranet supports native reward and recognition, being able to show that your employees are leaning into it is a big win. "Peer-to-peer recognition increases the probability of a constructive team by 2.5x", so showing that employees use your platform to recognize each other's success proves you're adding value.

Other metrics worth paying attention to include:

  • Event sign-ups
  • Diversity and Inclusion site views and interactions
  • Employee Resource Group page views and interactions
  • Social channel usage

Rewards & Recognition Software

Celebrate your people and encourage them to do the same with peer-to-peer recognition features that let no good deed go unnoticed and spark friendly competition.

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#5. External awards won

Finally, (although not strictly classed as a metric) winning or even being shortlisted for an external award can provide additional validation that your team and their campaigns are worth their salt. In fact, research has found that corporate award-winning organizations had 37% more sales growth and 44% higher stock price than their non-award-winning peers.

Being identified by prestigious companies in the market – i.e., Nielsen Norman Group, Gartner, and Ragan Communications – is a way to show your leaders that your intranet, campaigns, and communications are not only effective, but recognized as award-worthy within the industry.

Unily clients have shown unprecedented success for coming home with the gold, being the first company to have four clients featured in a single Best Intranet Design Annual, amongst other awards. It’s a great way to show to leadership that the time and money spent in designing an engaging, innovative employee experience platform has been recognized by the top experts in the market space.

Woman with extravagent eye makeup


Unily and Estée Lauder Companies selected as world’s best intranet of 2022 by Nielsen Norman Group

Another Unily employee experience platform has been chosen to feature in the Nielsen Norman Intranet Design Annual. Estée Lauder Companies’ MyELC has been selected as one of the world’s ten best intranets of 2022, making ELC the first-ever beauty company to feature in the annual.

Learn more

Making the most of your dashboards

We know that when it comes to IC metrics, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Businesses have different goals, ideas, cultures, and histories, and so the benchmarks internal communicators are working to and what will impress leadership are unique.

At Unily, our built-in dashboards and customer success team mean you can decide what your goals are and how you want to track them. Whether you want adoption stats, proof of engagement or measurement on views and performance of any kind, our analytics and dedicated customer team can help you pull together the precise report you need to wow your leadership team.

Putting it into context with benchmarking

Now that you have the metrics that matter, it’s time to put this information in context. What your leaders really need to understand is how your performance is faring when compared to competitors and other businesses of a similar size. You need to be able to show either where you’re excelling or where you’re failing your employees – and why this is happening.

Previously, designing and evaluating benchmarking was not an easy task, so this is why Unily introduced benchmarking into our analytics reports. These allow you to see how your engagement scores across the key areas above compare with companies of a similar size, industry, or geography, giving you wider context to give you and your leaders a better idea of success and improvements needed.

Adoption report

Prove the value of internal communications

Having quantifiable data behind your campaign's success is a surefire way to prove to leadership the importance and the true worth of internal communications. Seeing your metrics and analytics on a single dashboard can help make this easier for ICs to convey. If you would like to learn more about how you can get the data you need to succeed, reach out to us today for a free demo of our market-leading employee experience platform.

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