Intranets play a crucial role in keeping employees connected, fostering collaboration, and driving efficiency. Over my two-decade journey in managing corporate intranets, I’ve gleaned valuable insights that have shaped the evolving landscape of these internal platforms.
The Heart of Communication
Early on, intranets were often overlooked, relegated to silos, and lacked the attention they deserved. Forward-thinking organizations saw potential, reimagining intranets as central to internal communication. Regardless of industry or the sophistication of the platform, success hinged on prioritizing communication functions.
The Journey of a Communicator
As my roles morphed – from a promotion wizard in the early 2000s to an efficiency expert in the late 2000s and now a digital workplace coach – the common thread was the company’s valuation of communication. Roles evolved with business needs, industry trends, and technological advancements.
Rebranding for People
In a banking solutions company, a rebranding exercise prompted a complete intranet redesign. By involving employees in the vision and progress, crowdsourcing the name, and focusing on three content types, the intranet became a success.
Insight: It isn’t enough to have a baseline acceptance on intranet support. Emotional commitment from employees is crucial for intranet adoption.
Employee Engagement Hierarchy
In a global consulting firm, using the intranet for storytelling and resource access improved employee pride and efficiency. Consider how the intranet influences employee engagement hierarchy, aligning with Gallup’s research categories.
Insight: Align intranet performance with employee engagement categories for a richer experience. According to Gallup’s research, there are 4 key categories starting from the basic needs (expectations, materials and equipment and do best) to management support (development, cares about me and recognition) to team work (quality, mission/purpose and opinions count) and finally to growth (learn & grow, progress and best friend).
At a financial services organization, a clunky home-grown intranet faced usability challenges. Shifting focus to users and investing in usability testing transformed the intranet into a user-friendly platform.
Insight: Bridging the gap between employee expectations and employer performance is essential. However, according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, the gap between the employee expectations and employer performance is wide (18 points) on this topic.
In a retail giant, a static intranet lacked interactivity. Shifting to crowdsourcing stories from the frontlines transformed communication from talking ‘to’ employees to talking ‘with’ them.
Insight: Trust and engagement improve when employees actively contribute to organizational conversations. The newer model of conversations expects leaders to be intimate, inclusive, interactive and intentional.
Consistency and Closing Feedback Loop Matters
In a digital technology firm, discrepancies between customer and employee experiences sparked conversations. Research also revealed the desire for more frequent feedback. Building avenues for continuous employee feedback improved the intranet’s standing. Openly addressing employee perceptions and incorporating continuous feedback elevated the intranet’s profile.
Insight: Listening to employee feedback and taking visible actions enhance the intranet’s perceived value. According to Qualtrics research, 77% of employees wanted to give feedback more often than once a year and 86% of employees feel their voices are not heard fairly or equally.
Successful intranets require leadership support, an analytical approach, and an understanding of organizational dynamics. A strategic vision, an inclusive culture, and a passionate commitment from communicators are essential to create an intranet that truly serves its purpose.
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