Cost-effective ways to kick-start internal research

As we hurtle towards the end of the year and have some semblance of normality as schools return and workplaces are encouraged to get people back into the office, now is a great time to consider undertaking internal research, or auditing, your existing communications.

THE AUTHOR

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As we hurtle towards the end of the year and have some semblance of normality as schools return and workplaces are encouraged to get people back into the office, now is a great time to consider undertaking internal research, or auditing, your existing communications.

The role of research as a form of organisational competitive advantage dates as far back as 1970.  Its purpose is to make sure that strategy aligns with that of the business and provides senior leaders with a common fact base so that association can be made through the input of activity and impact on the business.

For internal communicators, the use of research can have substantial benefits including providing insight on the impact of key activities to the business, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and uncovering underlying issues before they affect engagement and reputation.  Strategy and plans can then be adapted to meet these challenges and drive long-term change. However, despite this, internal research is woefully underutilised

Academics and industry leaders believe research is the first step in knowing and understanding what the problems are in the organisation.  Managers with knowledge of research, then have an advantage over those who do not. It is no longer an option for communications to ‘hope’ for compliance, instead, they need to be prepared to answer questions on their approach and the impact it will have (Quirke, 2008).

How to conduct internal research cost-effectively

Many organisations feel daunted by conducting internal research, often assuming they do not have the right facilities, budget or event skills for the process and subsequently, external agencies are employed.  However, the benefits of facilitating internal research is astronomical, if not cost-effective to the overall organisation.  Having an internal team enables the business the luxury of constant assessment free from time delays and project parameters.

Top 3 cost-effective tips for undertaking research 

Don’t shy away from internal research and instead, explore these top three cost-effective ways which can be delivered easily and effectively and without the hefty price tag:

1. Use readily-available tools 

There are many online tools to help you gather insight including Survey Monkey and TypeForm. When using surveys, be selective, short and concise.  Although they not be appropriate to gather all feedback, quantitative data can provide a good baseline from which you can draw informed conclusions.

 2. Start small 

You don’t necessarily need to gather input from the whole organisation in one hit. Consider setting up a focus group (or a few if you have the time!) to gather qualitative insights. This might be on a particular issue or challenge that you’re facing, or you just want to check people’s views on IC within the business. Our ten-step guide to an effective workshop can help you plan this out quickly yet effectively.

3. Use data that already exists 

You may find that working with other teams such as HR, finance and marketing, can provide you with data you may not have previously had access to. Explore the resources you currently have, contacting in-house teams, and asking questions that may prove valuable in the long-term.

We’ll soon be publishing a how-to-guide on how to undertake an effective communication audit. Watch this space!

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