Employee Engagement or Business Impact? Unleashing the power and impact of internal communication

I’ve heard many times internal communicators say they face the challenge of knowing where the boundary is between internal comms and employee experience.

Does that resonate with you?

As every organisation is different there isn’t a clear answer, but it’s important for us to remember the definition of internal communication comms friends – ‘the overarching view of how a company communicates’.

Do keep this in mind when you’re having those challenging conversations with stakeholders on what is or isn’t your responsibility.

A few weeks ago, Mike Klein shared with us his insights into the Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey. Following his article, he’s kindly shared a follow up to help you reflect on your role when it comes to employee engagement.

Mike is a communication consultant and strategist based in Reykjavik, Iceland. He is the founder of the #WeLeadComms global recognition program for communication leaders and has worked in internal communication in the UK, US and Europe since 1997. He is also Senior Strategic Advisor for Sparrow Connected.

Over to you Mike…

Text: Employee Engagement or Business Impact? Unleashing the power and impact of internal communication. Photo of Mike Klein

Employee Engagement or Business Impact? Unleashing the power and impact of internal communication

There is now a great opportunity for internal communication folks to pause and reflect on whether there are better uses for our time, talents and energies than focusing on improving employee engagement scores.

As I mentioned in my previous article for All Things IC, the way employee engagement is measured in organisations often emphasises issues and levers that are well outside the influence of internal communication activity.

Yet, there are many in and around the internal comms industry who see employee engagement as a winning ticket for an easy buck.

“The data says higher employee engagement is correlated to higher profits, lower attrition, and lots of other great things – it’s a sure winner!” has been the prevailing thought on the subject.

But even some basic thought undermines the promise of investment in increasing employee engagement scores.

  • There is no commonly accepted definition of employee engagement.
  • Most of the data linking high employee engagement survey scores with tangible business benefits comes from organisations that publish and sell employee engagement surveys (mostly Gallup and its Q12 survey).
  • Many of the vendors and solution providers trumpeting a focus on improving employee engagements are selling solutions that have no direct impact on the drivers of improved employee engagement survey scores.

So, to subject internal communication to an accountability link for performance on employee engagement scores has three major problems:

  • It requires a lot of effort to be expended in the hopes internal comms will somehow generate an indirect impact on those questions where there is no direct IC influence.
  • It redirects internal communication effort away from tangible business issues that can have a real organisational and financial impact, but which aren’t addressed directly in the employee engagement scores.
  • It leaves IC functions with little tangible impact to show for their efforts and contributions, leaving them vulnerable to additional cuts or more intense micromanagement.

One of the great opportunities for unleashing the power and impact of internal communication in organisations is to uncouple the relationship between IC and employee engagement – and particularly, with employee engagement surveys.

Recently, I wrote an e-book for IC platform company Sparrow Connected, titled Employee Engagement or Business Impact: It’s time to choose.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

It’s offered me the opportunity to spell out what can be available for internal communicators when we get free of the forced relationship with an idea of “employee engagement’ that doesn’t align with our supporting the business to achieve its real objectives – and for us to be seen as successful drivers of value instead of struggling agitators for “engagement.”

It covers:

  • A real approach to internal communication strategy
  • The two most important questions any employee survey should ask
  • Do-know-feel-say: the cure for one-size-fits-all internal communication
  • Why employee engagement is a mess: differing definitions and disempowering expectations

It’s short. It’s free. And it may change the way you look at employee engagement – and internal communication forever.

Post author: Mike Klein.

Thank you for stopping by,


Published by Dan Holden on the the All Things IC blog 24 May 2022.

Internal Communication Strategy Masterclass


  1. Mike Klein says:

    Thank you so much for being willing to publish these pieces. As part of the great value IC professionals bring to organizations is an ability to question conventional wisdom on issues like “employee engagement”, you are doing a great service in empowering and encouraging such questions.

    Best from Iceland,

    Mike Klein

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