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  • Leslie Horna

Internal Communications: How to Maximize Your Intranet

Man reviews his company intranet on a tablet electronic device

One of the greatest challenges for internal communicators is the intranet. Oftentimes, employees don’t use it and communicators spend hours creating and updating content on the site to then market the website to employees. An intranet is a point of connectivity and collaboration for employees. When organizations lack employee adoption, it impacts client and employee retention as well as revenue growth.

With a significant portion of the U.S. workforce working remotely, it's incredibly important to maintain connection and engagement with your employees. The company intranet is an important tool in achieving your overall goals. Let’s look into why employees don’t use their intranet and how to make improvements that will increase utilization throughout your organization.

Successful companies have strong relationships with their employees, where leaders seek to empower staff to do a great job. These relationships were built out of trust and transparent communication. Employees expect their company’s leadership to keep them informed through frequent, honest communication, especially in times of crisis. Your intranet is a dedicated internal site serving as a centralized hub of information and activity about the organization. Communicators are often responsible for the management of the intranet, providing employees with crisis updates, company fact sheets, messaging, FAQs, policies, forms, photos, and videos.

To first understand why employees don’t use this great resource, assess your intranet’s design. Older site designs served as document storage, sharing, and collaboration; whereas more modern intranets focus on facilitating employee culture, connection, and communication. Since the site's use case has evolved, has the user experience been updated to reflect that?

The intranet needs to be designed from the perspective of the employee user experience. You want to map out the employee’s journey to ensure the company delivers the right information at the precise moment it’s needed. In journey mapping, you will explore the wants, needs, behaviors, and perspectives of your audience; which in this case, is your own workforce. This personalized approach to employee engagement will demonstrate respect and appreciation for your team, which helps the company earn the trust of the employees. Relationships built on trust put you in a better position to influence and lead.

Workers today interact remotely with clients and coworkers, making it essential to have a cloud-based application that is mobile-friendly. What is the experience you want employees to have and how does this compare to the experience that employees desire? A few things we already know:

- Intranet site should load quickly on all devices

- Easy to understand navigation that aligns with the employee’s journey

- Administration of the site must be easy for editors to use

- Departments/project teams may require specific pages or communities; some of which may require restricted-use/protected areas of the site

- The site must be interactive, featuring ways to engage with content, contribute to the site, and connect with other employees

- Factor the integration of other communications and technology tools into the design of your Intranet

Also related to the intranet user experience, is the frequency of content updates on the site. This could be something as simple as a news feed or carousel featuring new information on the site. Factoring your editing schedule into the site’s design will let employees know where to look for the most current information. You are habituating the intranet experience which nudges employees to use the site as part of their daily workday routine. For this reason, some companies make the intranet the browser homepage or install a shortcut to all company-issued computer desktops. Be sure to consider the number of editors who need access to the site and think through how the intranet will serve you during a crisis (such as COVID-19).

The content on the site is a significant driver of employee adoption. Companies want employees to take interest and find value in the content on the intranet; so much so that employees return again and again based on that alone. Surveying employees on the company news they want to hear, professional development opportunities, social or networking events, community occasions, company milestones, among other topics.

Two COVID-19 masked women sit at office desks, each typing on a computer.
Make office social distancing and remote employee engagement fun with a dynamic intranet.

Social media plays such a large role in our daily lives today that your intranet can encourage employees to like, share, comment, and even guest author content on the company’s social media channels. Add games, videos, and photo galleries from company events and activities, encourage the use of emojis and celebrate employee achievements. Your intranet is a great resource in addition to it being a fun space for employees to interact.

Once you have desirable content that’s regularly updated on an easy to use site, how is the intranet published and promoted? Many companies feature the information in an employee email newsletter, posters, flyers, closed-circuit televisions/digital signage around the office, and other marketing tactics. It is key to understand the behavior of your audience to make sure you reach out to them via the most appropriate communication channels to increase the likelihood they will respond as you hope. For example, if half of your employees work in the field and aren’t at a computer most of the day, you want to connect with them in a way that is convenient based on their environment.

Employees who are digitally connected could also subscribe to website push notifications to stay abreast of updates to the site. With push notifications, audiences opt-in to updates on your website. When the site is updated, you can release a notification to all subscribers - from educational and informative to promotional, transactional, or customer journey-related messages. Companies are increasingly using messenger applications to communicate with employees as well. This includes WeChat, Messenger, WhatsApp, among many others.

The takeaway here is that companies must design the intranet around the employee. Intranets are a fun place for employees to connect, collaborate, and bring your brand values to life. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make the most of your intranet, reach out for a consultation.

C. Change Consulting helps corporate, foundation, and government sectors with branding, marketing and communications strategy, research, planning, and execution.

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