By Amelia Cairns

“Peeling back the layers.” “Peeking behind the curtain.” “Looking under the hood.” “Scratching the surface.” “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

These familiar, relatable euphemisms are about finding out what’s going on behind the scenes, or what lies beneath the surface, and hold particular relevance for internal communicators.

As a communicator tasked with “building engagement”, “creating awareness”, “change management” or simply “comms”, it can be daunting to know where to begin, especially if you’re new to the organisation, if the company or its leadership don’t have an established baseline for employee communications, or if you’re a subject-matter expert in another discipline tasked to run a communications campaign.

Where do you start?

The old saying is true: We don’t know what we don’t know. To find out what’s happening with internal communications in an organisation, or to take your employees’ temperature in relation to an upcoming change (metaphorically!) or to set a baseline before an event or a new campaign kicks off, you need to run a communications audit.

Now before you gasp and slam the laptop shut, fear not – a communications audit is a simple baseline engagement tactic that you can design and deploy relatively quickly. It’s not a staff engagement survey to measure eNPS (employee net promotor score) and generally won’t require a data scientist to interpret the results! The audit takes the form of a questionnaire or a survey that asks people what they think about communications relating to a particular topic, areas for improvement, communications opportunities relating to their specific role or division, and what they’d like to see done differently (or better, or less).

Top tips

  • Start out with a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Don’t try to solve the world with one survey.
  • Design simple questions with a ratings scale (1 to 5) and include space for written feedback and questions.
  • Use Survey Monkey or a “poll” feature in your collaboration tool (Sharepoint, MS Teams and Facebook for Business all offer a variation).
  • Encourage people to complete the survey through a small incentive, such as a randomly selected participant wins a $50 voucher for an online store of their choice.
  • Give a reasonable timeframe and issue a reminder half-way through the campaign period.
  • Build a communications campaign around the audit (hint: don’t call it an audit!). You could introduce it to employees from a senior or visible leader in the organisation in an on-brand email that clearly sets out the purpose of the exercise and tells people what they can expect to see in future (and why they should care).
  • Activate a communications loop. Respond to feedback and share results in a visible, timely way – this could be on a page on your intranet linked from a follow-up email, a visualisation of results on a poster, or sharing on a video call where the project lead addresses thoughts and feedback.
  • Demonstrate real change arising from people’s suggestions. You might be surprised how attitudes shift when people feel like they’ve made a difference.

At Wright Communications, we have deep experience with employee communications – structure, strategy, and success. In fact, one of our Senior Account Directors Ron Murray has even written a book about it! If you’d like to discuss how a communications audit could help your organisation to deliver your strategy, drop us a line. We’d love to chat.

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