It is often recognised as an intangible business function and the added value of internal iommunications is incredibly difficult to quantify. In recent years methodology has improved in putting more data behind the impact of internal communications; most notably the link to employee engagement.
But the internal communications function can add significant value to business in a number of different ways. Engagement is the most quantifiable; and most businesses are now beginning to recognise the link between bottom line profit and high employee engagement.
This is an extremely positive development for internal communications as it can drive the ‘positioning’ discussion: e.g. aligning your IC function with business strategy rather than using as a delivery mechanism.
Related blog: 5 reasons why high engagement = increased bottom line
So, where does internal communications add value outside of your engagement framework? Defining culture, facilitating conversation and sharing narrative are probably the three most critical elements of an IC function; but there is also an understated role for internal communications across an organisation that can have real ‘value added’ impact in the following three areas:
Often in business there will be conflicting agendas internally. In many cases the IC function will be the one stakeholder in a business that has a holistic view of activity and can play the role of mediator. There is a role for internal communications to be the conduit between the business strategy and wider organisation. It is about bringing people together and managing conflicts to achieve the best outcome for the business.
This can happen at any level in an organisation; from working with the Leadership team to working with line managers. Some organisations may split this into a more niche area of stakeholder relations: but it is often an understated role of an IC function to manage internal stakeholders.
Added value: Steering business leaders and stakeholders to a better business outcome based upon organisational need; not departmental ideology.
Most organisational projects will succeed or fail based on the quality of communications. There is a role for IC in providing specialist expertise and planning to business projects and mitigate the risk of failure.
The knowledge base from within IC brings a detailed understanding of audiences and channels; and can make informed recommendations on the most relevant way to engage people on a specific topic or issue.
Partnering the business in project delivery can be a real asset: a specialist communications perspective on project management allows for the ‘plan’ to become a ‘story’.
Added value: Mitigating project risks by ensuring effective communications methodology and considering organisational ‘buy in’.
There will always be different levels of communications expertise across an organisation. Some manager’s are natural communicators; others are uncomfortable. Where IC can make a difference is to work with the management community to find a uniform standard. All organisations will have a communications ‘sweet spot’: that point in an organisation where managers feel empowered and understand the need to communicate effectively.
It maybe something of a holy grail; but IC can facilitate understanding and educate business Leaders.
Added value: Providing education and guidance to management community to drive a uniform standard of communication across an organisation.
In a commercial world that is outcome driven it isn’t always easy to quantify communications. Measuring engagement is a welcome metrics to put some science behind the impact of IC.
But whilst this maybe from a biased viewpoint: these three examples just scratch the surface of how communications can add value to an organisation in an intangible way.
Internal communications shouldn’t be a nice to have anymore; it should be a critical business function that acts as the vehicle to driving your strategy.