How to make data-driven decisions for strategic internal communication - An internal communicators' guide

Information technology has advanced to unprecedented degrees, with over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being generated daily. Despite this, corporate decision-making mechanisms continue to rely on guesswork. 

  • According to a Harvard Business School report, more than half of Americans make decisions based on their gut feelings instead of depending on facts. The numbers have been consistent even when the decision-makers have been presented with contrary data.
  • In addition, research suggests that decision-makers often rely on biased or poor-quality data (outdated, erroneous, or irrelevant), which costs more than $3 million per year in the US alone.

It’s not hard to understand how a combination of poor data and a tendency to depend on gut feelings can be a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, using data or facts to guide decisions can drive desirable results. This applies to various objectives, from right addressing employee concerns, increasing productivity and engagement, reducing turnover to overall steering the organization to success. 

As an internal communications professional, you may wonder how you can go about pursuing data-driven, strategic internal communication. Given that your task involves dealing with disparate teams of employees, gathering information from different sources and making sense of the data together may seem complex. But we know how to simplify it for you. This guide shares some actionable steps you can follow to make strategic internal communication decisions using data more easily.

Taking data-driven decisions - article

Follow these steps to simplify strategic internal communication using data

1. Start with adopting a pattern-oriented mindset

If you want to easily understand structured and unstructured data and use it in decision making, adopting a pattern-oriented mindset is the first step. This includes clearly knowing (and being aware of) what your mission is and what problems you're facing while communicating with your employees or the problems they’re facing when interacting with one another. Once you understand the patterns of miscommunication or lack of communication, you can identify data sources to help you arrive at the correct inferences.

To get started with this, here's what you need to do:

  • List out problems you or your colleagues face while communicating with each other, superiors, or clients. 
  • Identify any bottlenecks and loopholes within your organization’s existing communication channels. For instance, you may observe that front line workers struggle to communicate with the in-office workers using traditional means like emails. You may find that the messages get missed frequently. 
  • Chalk out the goals concerning internal communication that you want to prioritize. For example, ensuring more prompt communication between the in-office and frontline workforce.

2. Collect and organize your data

You can collect data on your employees and team members communication and collaboration from multiple sources. For instance, you may look into your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, or human resource management solutions (HRMS). Valuable data include performance reports, customer feedback, tickets raised, etc. You can also find information regarding your employees on social channels like Yammer, or group chats on WhatsApp that are used frequently. 

Once you have the information you need, you need to cleanse and organize the data in its raw form. That's because it may be duplicated, erroneous, and incompatible with different tools. This step can be super simple if you implement an employee communication app in your organization that can act as a single source of truth. Using it will ensure all employee-related communication data is consolidated in one place. Speakap, for instance, helps you ensure secure communication organization wide, from its app-based interface. It can organize data-insights for you as well.

3. Use tools to perform statistical analysis

Once you've organized your data, you need to use statistical tools to derive insights to make strategic decisions. Usually, most ERP or HRM systems include statistical tools from which you can draw insights. For analyzing, here's what you need to get started:

  • Access to statistical analytics tools such as SPSS (IBM), R Programming, and Microsoft Excel for generating both inferential and predictive insights.
  • Data visualization tools such as Microsoft Power BI and Tableau for understanding the insights you generate. 
  • If you are not comfortable with the complex tools listed above, relying on end-to-end employee communication tools can simplify the task for you. 

Read more: Internal Comms Strategy 4/4: One Employee Communication App 

Speakap generates inferential and predictive insights specific to your staff with an easy-to-use and AI-enabled interface. You can use this easily available information to drive your strategic internal communication initiatives.

4. Make it a policy to use data when making decisions

As humans, we tend to rely on "intuition" and biased data (think cognitive biases and logical fallacies) whenever we need to make decisions. To ensure you follow facts instead of gut, establish using data as a part of your policy framework. This will help ensure that you follow a scientific approach and reduce the chances of bias as much as possible.  

To reduce cherry-picking of data, here's what you need to ensure:

  • All datasets are anonymized, and confounding variables (things that may cloud your decisions or organizational diversity and inclusion, such as gender, age, or employee race) are accounted for.
    Read More: Is Technology an Obstacle for Your DEI Initiatives?
  • You're updated with the latest data sources and have access to them.
  • You understand your employees. This is possible by investing time and resources in qualitative analysis like case studies, observation methods, and interviews in your datasets (make sure not to include this in quantitative analysis to avoid bias).

Success & better outcomes start with data-driven decisions

Despite knowing the benefits of data-driven decisions, studies show that most people continue to make critical decisions based on their instincts and feelings. This also includes internal communicators and HR professionals who have a major role in navigating an organization’s growth trajectory. With the ability to collect vast amounts of data today, it’s time to change this. It’s necessary to understand employees based on facts, figures, and insights and use that to guide strategic decisions. This is possible by building a pattern-oriented mindset, collecting the right data and analyzing it as a policy before making decisions. This needn’t be complicated, if you use end-to-end employee communication tools.

Speakap is an advanced employee communication app loaded with analytical and insight-generation features. It acts as a single source of truth for your employee communication need, helps you quickly understand what your colleagues want or need and how you can use available data to make them an asset to your organization.

Contact us today to learn how our tool enables you to develop data-driven employee communication campaigns. 


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