Intranets have been around since the early 1990s, which means they’re the conventional method companies use to reach and communicate with employees. Of course, like all traditional technologies, intranets now compete with newer, differently designed tech tools.
There are some indications that intranets may not be pulling their weight as well as more contemporary technology tools. For one thing, most of us are now used to regularly scheduled software updates, new releases, and exciting new features. Yet most intranets update on a three-year release cycle.
This lag prevents internal communicators with intranets from getting access to the latest strategies to keep workers informed and up to date. This puts pressure on organizations to make sure that their intranets stay competitive and relevant.
Today, employees are more distributed, distracted, and disengaged than ever before. Your intranet should be a tool to connect your entire workforce and enable teams to get the information they need to get the job done. We’ve put together a list of the 10 best intranet practices to ensure success with your company.
10 Tips for Intranet Success
#1 Optimize the reach of your communications using mobile devices.
The intranet was created before the rise of deskless workers, and is generally not equipped to support them fully. Frontline and remote workers are often the faces of an organization, so you want to make sure you have the right technology to engage with these workers successfully. That means exploring the potential of mobile devices.
To make an impact on deskless and remote workers, communications must meet workers when and where they prefer. This is especially true for engaging deskless workers, as they may not have access to a desktop at all times, but probably do have access to a mobile device. Simply relying on posting to the intranet for all your communications will not be enough to engage your workforce. You need to meet them on their devices.
Having a multichannel approach that includes mobile is the best way to optimize the reach of your communications. Multiple channels maximize the number of touchpoints, making sure that your messages are being seen. A multichannel approach could include:
- Instant messaging: helps connect workers and increase communication
- Newsfeed feature: top-level company snippets that remote workers can easily consume
- Mobile app: supports deskless and frontline staff who may not have access to a desktop
- Video calling: helps increase the human touch and makes employees feel seen
Diversifying your strategy in this way will help increase engagement with your messaging and encourage workers to be connected. A mobile app will especially help reach frontline workers to be informed and up-to-date on organizational goals.
#2 Design your intranet with usability in mind.
Since the intranet team is responsible for uploading, creating, and managing the intranet, it can often be difficult to step back and make sure that the intranet is user-friendly. You should ask yourself, why are workers using the intranet? Are they using it to collaborate with colleagues, discover new information, or simply fill out paperwork?
Here’s what your intranet needs if you want to make it easy to use and provide employees with the tools they need.
- Integration functionality: Instead of undergoing the tedious task of updating the intranet every time you add a feature, make sure your intranet has integration functionality. This means that you can get the latest tools and features without having to undergo an entire refresh. With integration functionality, you can automatically push news and updates right to the intranet without having to take an extra step.
- Search functionality: One of the biggest hindrances of an intranet is an outdated search function. Make sure your employees get the information they need without spending hours digging through page after page. This is critical to ensuring a user-friendly experience.
Your intranet should be the first place your employees go to get the information that they need. Optimizing their experience means making sure that your intranet is built to enable and support your workforce.
#3 Measure how well your intranet contributes to broader business objectives.
Your intranet should not only serve as a platform for internal communications but also help reach broader business objectives. Ask yourself, what role does the intranet play in solving strategic organizational goals, and is it aligned to help reach them?
The only way to know if the intranet is contributing to your enterprise success is to measure your internal communications performance. In order to optimize your communications strategy, you need to know what is working and what is not. By analyzing your communication metrics, you can uncover how different employees interact with your messages.
You will first need to define what metrics you will track to analyze your performance. Whether it’s increasing intranet adoption or empowering employees to communicate through the intranet, identifying key performance indicators will help you track your progress. Through tracking your metrics over time, you can create actionable insights to redefine your communications strategy.
#4 Leverage your intranet to encourage a bidirectional dialogue
Intranets are usually thought of as a way to receive messages, but not as a platform that encourages conversation. Yet corporate communications will become stale and go unread if your intranet is only filled with announcements published by the intranet team.
In order to encourage the use of the intranet, you should create spaces for employees to interact on the platform.
To foster two-way dialogue, enable your intranet to support users having conversations. Users should have profiles that have information similar to what’s available on their LinkedIn profiles.
Their intranet profiles should include their name, a photo, job title, and location. Creating comprehensive profiles will allow employees to like, comment, and share across the intranet.
With a profile, users can identify who is saying what and create networks based on conversations and interactions they’ve had on the intranet. The messages you post should be open to criticism and feedback. This will help encourage the use of your intranet and create a space where employees are a part of the conversation.
#5 Use your intranet to create a strong company culture
As the digital workplace continues to play a larger role in shaping businesses, your intranet should serve as a vehicle to transmit your mission and values to your entire workforce. You should be able to use your intranet to easily communicate messages about your organizational brand and purpose to employees.
Features such as employee recognition, performance objectives, an onboarding process, and encouraging workers to be active on the intranet can contribute to building a successful company culture. With a dispersed workforce, it may be more challenging to keep up with those kinds of features, which could in turn affect the quality of your company culture.
Employees should feel comfortable building and contributing to your company culture through a vibrant dialogue on your intranet. Make resources available that empower employees to build a strong company culture.
#6 Decentralize your communications.
Decentralized communication is the latest trend shaping internal communications. Instead of being in control of every message on your intranet, encourage your employees to take ownership of their intranet.
What would that look like, exactly? Here are some examples.
- Employees posting and uploading images to the intranet.
- Employees using the intranet to share their wins and post questions to their coworkers.
- Employees sending messages to other individuals in their departments to create stronger bonds and professional camaraderie.
Team members will be more interested in this content, because it will be relevant to their job, comes from someone they know, and is aimed at them.
While it can be difficult for some IT teams to give creative control to multiple individuals, we suggest making a management system part of your strategic planning; such a system will allow you to set approval guidelines to ensure posts align with your company brand.
Ultimately, an intranet is created to enable employees to do their jobs. Decentralizing your intranet will help create authentic, personalized, and relatable content.
#7 Create highly engaging content.
If you want to truly capture your employees’ attention, your intranet needs to have more content that provides value to your entire workforce.
The way we consume content has changed. That means the tools we use to engage our workforce need to reflect the ways we communicate when we’re online or out of the office.
To create engaging content, first make sure workers are able to easily access and discover your messages. Different types of content on your intranet could include:
- Events and conference announcements
- CEO thought leadership pieces
- IT how-to tutorials
- Discussion forums
- Blog posts
- Videos and infographics
- Public recognition of individual accomplishments
Your intranet should be a tool to help provide an amazing employee experience. Teams are much more likely to be engaged with your content if you keep the content focused on encouraging worker participation instead of top-down messaging.
An intranet should be a place for dialogue between employer and employee, instead of a place that workers only go to consume information rather than participating.
#8 Make your intranet content easy to find and searchable.
Intranets are predominantly used by employees to search for information, communicate across an organization, and manage workflows.
Because intranets have been used for such a long time, they’re traditionally structured in an outdated way. This structure often forces employees to search through thousands of pages or folders to find the information they need.
A major issue with most intranets is that content is often outdated. That’s usually because publishing to intranets can be difficult and time-consuming if it’s not integrated into a workforce communications platform.
To optimize your intranet, make your content easy to find and searchable. Having a company intranet makes it easy to store and access all your files in a central location. Any communication that happens on an intranet is also saved for as long as the intranet is up. This makes it easier for individuals to search for past posts from their company intranet.
#9 Create personalized, relevant, and targeted content.
The best way to keep employees engaged is to create content that is targeted and relevant. The SocialChorus 2018 Comms Effectiveness Survey indicates nearly double the click-through rate when communicators use targeted channels. For example, if you know frontline workers use your company app more than they open your emails, you can direct a majority of the in-app messaging to focus on their needs.
The best way to target content is by dividing your workforce into different audience segments. These segments can be based on location, job title, or tenure. New hires may appreciate receiving communications that are all personalized towards onboarding and easing their entry into the organization.
Homepages provide another opportunity for companies to personalize their intranet. Employees could have different homepages based on their language or region. Personalization will make workers want to come back and use your intranet because it will contain information that is unique and relevant to them.
#10 Integrate communications channels on a workforce communications platform.
While an “intranet refresh” may be on your to-do list, the best way to optimize your intranet is to integrate all your comms channels into a workforce communications platform. The SocialChorus’ Content Amplifier pushes company news and information to the intranet in a way that keeps employees informed and coming back for more. You can also view engagement metrics on your dashboard, which to understand if they are actually getting your messages. Because if your workforce is left in the dark, your business initiatives may fail.
To keep your workforce interested in your messaging, you have to reach employees on the channel that they prefer. With a workforce platform, you can post content directly to all your comms channels, whether desktop or mobile. This will ensure that your employees see your content no matter how they like to receive information.
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