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Internal Communications: Earning a Seat at the C-Suite Table

Today’s corporate leaders in internal communications looking to elevate their profiles are already holding the keys to their executive future . . . all by directly linking their employee engagement with business results. Beyond clicks and readership, connecting internal communications to outcomes positions the function to have a C-suite seat at the table.

Surveys can tell you if employees are engaged, satisfied and care whether management has done something since the last employee survey. If internal communication leaders take their surveys one step further, they can also predict how much internal communications drive business and save money.

Daggerwing Group, in partnership with global research firm KGRA (Ketchum Global Research and Analytics), developed an approach that measures standard factors such as morale and job satisfaction, while demonstrating predictive causality between different levers of communications (messages, channel, messengers) and their effect on employee engagement.

Yes, you can predict how much internal communications can drive the business forward. 

A top four accounting firm wanted to test whether or not internal efforts to keep employees engaged and happy actually drove business success. Not only was the answer “yes,” but it was possible to also predict how much internal communications were driving the business forward. At the end of our engagement, the CCO was “surprised that there was a way to measure causality for employee engagement.” The CCO said he was familiar with measuring causality with consumer and political communications but had never seen it used internally. He was also surprised that the actual number of employee responses needed was not intrusive at all.

Finding the needle in the internal communications haystack.  

Testing the communication levers through the Daggerwing Group and KGRA research method allows communicators to clearly see what combination of messages, channels, and messengers will increase employee engagement. For example, we found for one company if they increased the effectiveness of their manager communications around particular topics, employee engagement increased by a full point on a ten-point scale. In employee engagement terms, we found the needle in the haystack to move their scores into the highly engaged levels.


Here is where it gets better — for your business and your career. 

Employee engagement is clearly connected with business outcomes. Engagement isn’t a measurement of happiness. It’s a measure of specific employee behaviors such as likelihood to stay, advocacy, willingness to refer a friend, and discretionary effort. All of these behaviors are directly linked to dollars. You can (and we have) calculate the financial impact of improved communications on retention and subsequent recruiting costs. These are the business outcomes and clear measures that earn you a seat at the C-suite table.

Employee engagement can never be fully owned by the function of internal communications. However, we have found internal communications is accountable for 20-25% of overall employee engagement. We believe internal communications leaders need and deserve a roadmap to guide and focus their efforts in holding themselves accountable for the value they deliver every day. We’re ready to help.

Chris Thornton is a Senior Principal and member of the global leadership team at Daggerwing Group. In his role, Chris serves as a source of strategic counsel for Senior Executives with client firms, advising them on how to help clients achieve Executive alignment, transform their cultures and equip and enable people managers to lead and embed change. An expert in the people side of change with both client-side and consulting experience, Chris has worked with leading companies including Nestlé, Pfizer, and GE Aviation to do change right and make it stick. He is also an active speaker on business transformation, a driver of innovation in Daggerwing’s breadth of change consulting services, and the host of Daggerwing Group’s podcast, Change@Work. Chris and his wife were featured in the New York Times for their love of pie.