Why and how to conduct an internal communications audit to better reach employees

Published: 04/20/23

Conducting an internal communications audit is an important foundational step on the path to holistically improving your employee communications and engagement.

an illustration of employees in conversation


Because the results from your audit will provide the hard data you need to deliver critical information to your employees effectively — and execute your overall communications strategy successfully.

Let’s dive deeper into the many benefits of an internal communications audit and how to get started on auditing your company’s own internal comms channels.

What exactly is an internal communications audit?

An audit of your internal communications involves evaluating the effectiveness of — you guessed it — your internal communications. You’ll review every avenue your company leverages to reach your employees — from intranets to portals to inner-office emails and everything in between.

Crucially, conducting an internal communications audit also means squeezing as much data out of your internal comms software as possible. For example, tracking how many times an employee logs into your software. This data tells you whether or not they’re engaged with that particular platform. You should couple these quantitative insights with qualitative ones, garnered through employee focus groups or surveys.

Powerful stuff, right? Without further ado, let’s detail how to get started on your employer brand.

How do I know if my company needs an in-house communications audit?

Every company should spend time analyzing their internal communications to ensure their effectiveness. In fact, in an ideal world, you should conduct this kind of audit annually to establish the continued success of your employee communications (although it won’t always be a big haul like the first ever audit tends to be).

Your company is particularly in need of an internal communications audit if:

  • Employee engagement or morale is low.
  • Employees seem mysteriously unreachable.
  • Important messages are falling through the cracks.
  • There’s a silo mentality from department to department.

If your company has deskless team members — people who work in warehouses, distribution facilities and retail stores — internal communications audits are arguably even more crucial. You simply don’t have as many opportunities to reach these employees because they’re not in an office with you. They’re not even in front of a computer most of the time! Those few chances you get to communicate with these deskless folks must be impactful.

A final important point: There has been a massive shift in the workplace over the last few years. Remote and hybrid environments, flexible work schedules, less in-person contact in general — how, when and where your people get the information they need has changed. Now is the moment to audit your communications efforts to ensure they’re keeping up with the times.

The explicit benefits of internal communications audits

You’ve probably gotten the gist of the benefits of an internal communications audit by now. There are many. To sum it up, an audit will help you understand if your internal communications methods are informing, involving and inspiring your employees. And if they’re not, the audit will illuminate what changes must be made so your employee communications make a real difference in the success of your organization as a whole.

After all, with effective internal communications comes:

  • Time savings for your employees. When your employees know where to go for the information they need, they don’t waste time searching. Ditto for clearcut messages; employees don’t need to spend time asking follow-up questions. Because they have what they need when they need it, your employees will be more productive in their jobs.
  • Time savings for you. An audit will reveal duplicative or ineffective comms channels. When you remove them, you streamline your communications efforts to the right channels. Also, understanding your communications platforms inside and out allows you to explain to your colleagues which channels you control and which they’re empowered to own themselves.
  • Cost savings for your company. Offloading underutilized comms channels saves you the cost of that software subscription, obviously. But optimizing the ones that do work also saves money. You’re making the most of your company’s investment in that tool.

In addition to these listed benefits, bettering your internal communications stands to better your organization. Because happy, satisfied employees make for a more productive, positive workplace.

3 steps to conduct your own internal communications audit

As mentioned, a quality internal communications audit combines qualitative and quantitative insights to inform the improvement of your overall internal communications. Specifically, your audit should include three steps:

1. Review your communications channels

You have multiple ways that you get messages to your employees. Often the first step of an audit is compiling and reviewing each of these ways. Make a list of every comms channel you have, including intranets, portals, internal-facing emails and so on.

Once you’ve accounted for every channel, take a look at what sorts of information goes on each one. Do you have an employee benefits portal? An inbox for each department? A Slack channel for hiring updates? You get the idea. You can’t possibly improve your internal comms if you don’t first comprehend where these communications are happening.

2. Gather your quantitative data

Each of your channels likely has analytics about its usage. Pull and aggregate data points like how much traffic your intranet gets, how many people open your emails and how many click through.

You can also collect quantitative data from some employee surveys. And if you have events like town halls or video training for employees, track attendance and engagement.

3. Listen to your employees for qualitative insights

Balance your quantitative data with qualitative insights. You can gather such insights from employee focus groups, surveys, interviews, etc.

Completing qualitative research with people from across your organization can help you better understand the quantitative data. You’ll uncover reasons behind certain behaviors. For example, your data tells you your email open rates are down. But why? Employee interviews might reveal that employees think these emails are, frankly, boring, so they’re just not reading them.

It’s true that focus groups and the like take time to put together and conduct. But asking your employees for their feedback is imperative. When you ask your people for their opinions, they feel valued and heard (provided that you act on their feedback, of course). Not to sound like a broken record, but when employees feel valued, it leads to increased productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction.

An audit has never sounded so exciting

Hopefully it’s abundantly clear why going through an internal communications audit is so worth your effort, as we promised at the outset.

An audit lays out a roadmap and allows you to craft straightforward, consistent messaging that resonates with your employees, inspiring alignment and appropriate action cross-company.