A lot of smaller businesses, even those experiencing rapid growth, are sometimes reluctant to adopt new tech tools, especially tools geared towards growing culture, increasing employee engagement, and improving communication.
They generally think they don’t need to worry about that yet, that things like company culture will manifest organically and scale with the addition of new hires. For startups in particular, who are scrambling to find funding in the early days, it’s hard to see beyond the next rent payment let alone to a point when culture becomes a major factor.
But the truth is, what happens in the early growth stage of a small business will impact your company for years to come. A toxic company culture or low engagement are only going to get worse if they’re not addressed right away. The same is true whether your company’s a tech startup founded in a college dorm or a 75 year-old mom and pop hardware store that’s about to open another location.
If your company has 20+ employees and you want to scale your culture, keep your people engaged, and ensure everyone is connected, you’re going to need new tools sooner rather than later.
You’re going to need an intranet.
3 reasons why your small business needs an intranet
1. An intranet helps new hires get acquainted with your company culture
Preparing for growth in your company’s culture is just as important as planning for its financial growth. And your company culture at 20 employees can look a lot different when you hit 70 employees, so you’ll need to think about how that change benefits your organization. You can hire for cultural fit, sure, but you’ll also need to give new hires a tool that keeps them engaged and helps them get acquainted with your company’s best skills and values.
An intranet gives your new hires the following:
- A repository for important information. During their first week, new hires will need to sign documents, complete orientation checklists, provide contact information, watch training videos, set up accounts, and learn about important policies and procedures. Your intranet provides all of that in one place. It saves your team time (and paper!) and it gives your new hire a sense of autonomy right off the bat.
- A place to learn. Sometimes at a small business, people aren’t around to answer questions, especially in a fast-paced startup environment where your people simply don’t have the time to train or teach new hires. An intranet gives your new hires a place to ask questions, learn about events, and get involved with your company culture from day one.
- A community. A new workplace can be overwhelming, intimidating, and nerve-wracking, but an intranet can help. Your intranet is a space for organization-wide introductions for new hires. It gives them a way to say hello and find groups and discussion threads that are work relevant and appeal to their interests. It gets them acquainted with the different people at your organization, and provides an opportunity to be welcomed by the team.
In other words, an intranet is good for your small business because it helps you grow your culture quickly. New hires have everything they need at their fingertips to learn about best practices, rituals, core values, team events, and anything else they’ll need to know as they grow with your company.
Gill Buchanan, Chief Operating Officer at Pure (80 people)
2. An intranet improves communication and creates a close-knit community
We’ve all seen the US version of The Office, right? The show in which an incompetent but ultimately charming boss inflicts his cringe-inducing antics on a loveable cast of characters, each with their own quirks and hilarious, heartwarming storylines?
Okay, great. Well, imagine if the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin had an intranet that they could use to instantly connect with colleagues at other branches. If Jim in Scranton would know right away what was happening with his colleagues in Stamford. It probably wouldn’t make for a very entertaining show, but it would make for one extremely interconnected small business.
Forgive my shoddy Office spec script for a second (it will air one day, mark my words) and think about the ways in which an intranet can connect all of the disparate, distant satellite offices—or siloed teams within a single office—of your small business.
Is your small business a paper company with 58 employees spread across 6 branches throughout the midwest? An intranet offers a go-to place that keeps people at those far-off branches informed about what’s going on at every site and at HQ. It provides a simple way for them to share news and events, important documents, and learn about upcoming changes. It also helps them communicate with, compete with, collaborate with, and possibly even pull hilarious hijinks on each other.
Whether your business has many branches or only one, your intranet functions as a central digital workplace for all of your teams, which means that distance and barriers between teams are no longer an impediment to communication. With an intranet, everyone suddenly feels a lot closer, which in turn helps create a more close-knit community.
Plus, an intranet would’ve salvaged the 7th season, that’s for sure.
Therese Hume, Marketing Manager at Oncam (95 people)
3. An intranet gets your small business engaged and aligned with your company’s mission
I’ve written before about how engaged employees are the key to getting teams aligned with your company’s mission. Whether that mission is growth or something else entirely, you want your best (if not all) employees championing it in a way that spreads the message throughout the organization.
This is especially important if your small business is in the early, unprofitable stages when your company mission means everything.
Engagement can be gamified. It can be incentivized. But ultimately engagement is driven by your culture, and as a leader of a small business, your voice is perhaps the most influential. An intranet provides a space where you can actively participate in and champion your company’s culture.
You can use your intranet to deliver internal communications, comment on posts, share news and company success stories, give shout-outs to publicly recognize employees who are going above and beyond, and more. It’s another way to reiterate and demonstrate your company’s commitment to its values and its people. And, if you’re doing it well, they’ll follow suit.
In other words, leaders, use your intranet all the time. The sooner you work it into your daily routine, the greater its effect on engagement as your small business grows.
Holly Flinkman, Manager of HR and Health Sustainability at District of Lake Country (85 people)
Much like other tools, an intranet is an investment in your small business. More importantly, though, it’s an investment in your people. By putting culture, engagement, and communication at the forefront of your small business from the start, you signal to your employees that your company has their best interests in mind as you grow together.