Audit

The word “audit” usually conjures images of not-so-friendly tax accountants with calculators at the ready. But for employee communication, an audit is a useful tool to get a high-level view of how communication is performing.

Just as you visit the doctor for annual(ish) physicals or take your car for regular maintenance, it’s a good practice to pause and understand how your communication system is working.

Since audits tend to be more comprehensive than one-off research (such as a stand-alone survey), use them when you need to:

  • See the big picture of how communication is experienced across the company—especially when the communication function is decentralized
  • Understand how to make incremental improvements to your communication program
  • Build evidence to make the case for big changes, such as consolidating newsletters, implementing a leader communication program or centralizing channels

Employee communication audits typically use several research methods to develop a clear picture of strengths and opportunities, including:

Research method Approach/purpose
Surveys Ask employees to evaluate their communication experience, including satisfaction with channels and knowledge of key topics
Focus groups
and/or interviews
Invite employees and stakeholders to review their needs and preferences, explain how they participate in communication and share their ideas for improvement
Vehicle assessments Assess communication channels against leading practices
Site visits Review workplace communication (posters, signage and bulletin boards) to determine effectiveness
Benchmark studies Compare your employee communication program with the approach of companies you admire

Next week, I’ll dive into the four steps of an audit project.

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