Deep down, a successful employee intranet isn’t about having all the fancy widgets and add-ons and doodads. Those are nice to have, sure, but they’re not necessarily what makes an intranet good.
The deciding factor in whether or not your intranet will thrive is, you guessed it, the people who use it every day. After all, a full-featured intranet that isn’t being used is an intranet that’s failed.
The truth is: how your people use your intranet makes all the difference.
If you’re dealing with a struggling intranet, or looking for strategies for your future intranet, then you’re in luck. In this article I’m going to talk about some of the ways in which you can make the most out of your intranet—including how to keep your people interested, engaged, and improve the way they collaborate with each another.
Let’s get started.
Intranets don’t have to be bland
The primary functions of an intranet should be to simplify working life, align people, and streamline the way information is shared. But that doesn’t mean that intranets need to be boring or stale. In fact, appealing to your people with fresh, engaging, interactive content is absolutely one of the best things you can do to align your people.
So how do you do it?
First thing’s first, get out of the mindset that any one person (or team) should have sole control over the type of content that’s published on your intranet. This is a common mistake and more often than not it’s what turns a once-thriving intranet into a bland, boring, barren ghost town.
I’m not saying that a single intranet administrator, whether it’s one IT guy or your plucky HR team, is going to go full totalitarian regime and post content that’s only relevant to them (I mean, I like to think that wouldn’t happen). I just think it’s worth opening up content rights to the rest of the org, whether that’s a trusted member from every team or literally everyone in your organization. That way, there’s a variety of voices, opinions, authors, and content.
It’s probably the easiest thing you can do to make your intranet a heck of a lot more interesting.
Of course the same goes for the types of content you’re publishing. People tend to lose interest when all they see is a weekly earnings report and a yearly Christmas party announcement. That’s informative, I suppose, but it's not really interactive, is it? Instead, try mixing it up with different topics, videos, blog articles, polls, and news to generate some genuine discussion and individual expression. Don’t worry, these can all be work-relevant and professional (or not, depending on your organization).
In summary, your people want to be heard, so make the most of your intranet by giving them a voice.
Intranets should align, not annoy
Imagine you’re a rank-and-file employee (maybe you are already) and your employer announces that your company’s going to start using an intranet. Probably you’ll have one of two reactions:
“Great, another tool I have to learn.”
Your reaction will likely depend on the way in which your employer rolls out the new intranet. Did they simply announce it and send you a login? Or was there a kickoff event, a launch party, and a training session to get everyone onboard?
If you’re wondering how to get people using your intranet to its full extent, you need to put some serious consideration into how you introduce it to your organization. Rather than simply decreeing that intranet use is hereby mandatory for all employees, spend some time demonstrating its value to the organization, including addressing any curent problem areas that it will help solve.
If you launch your intranet in a way that appeals to your people, you’ll be rewarded with a bustling intranet filled with excited employees instead of a group of rogues and ne’er-do-wells complaining that they have to log in to yet another tool just to find out when the company picnic is.
Pro-tip: the leadership team should take the reigns by posting a ton of fresh content, especially in the early days of the intranet. Getting buy-in immediately following launch is extremely important for making the most of your intranet as it grows.
Intranets are THE place to get work done
Contrary to popular belief, intranets aren’t just for engaging content, Christmas party announcements, and CEO blogs. They’re also the go-to place to get work done across your organization—or at least they should be!
What am I talking about? Think of it this way. For years, workplace communication was done through email (it still is in a lot of organizations). And that meant that checking your email multiple times throughout the day was a necessity. It was where you’d go to track the progress of a project, communicate important details and status updates, and make decisions based on what you’d read. Back then, email was the go-to place.
Of course, email can be super complicated and inefficient and there’s a reason it’s no longer in vogue, but that’s another article altogether.
Back to my point: making the most out of your intranet means turning it into the go-to place, the daily destination for your people. You can do this by storing important files there, taking advantage of built-in chat features, integrate with other commonly used tools, track projects and tasks there, and posting a steady stream of news and events.
If you’re hoping to increase engagement, align your workforce, increase collaboration, and simplify working life for your people, your intranet will ideally become the center of your organization’s ecosystem.
When that happens, people forget that they’re even on the company intranet. It becomes an integral part of their daily work routine. And that’s when fresh, engaging content and interactive features really shine.
Intranet maintenance isn’t the most thrilling of topics, so if you’ve made it this far: thanks. That said, it’s an important part of creating a thriving workplace and definitely worth further investigation if you’re interested.