With just over one fourth of employees reporting that they feel actively engaged at work, employee engagement is one of the biggest crises facing the workplace today. The stats speak for themselves:

6 steps to drive employee engagement through intranet personas_infographic
Social intranets are an invaluable tool to keep employees engaged, productive and at the top of their game. In particular, creating intranet personas can help to build trust by delivering relevant content to employees that helps them to be more productive. These six steps will teach you the most effective ways to use personas to build employee engagement.

1) Understand what personas are

Aside from a perceived aspect of one’s character, what do we mean when we use the word “persona?” Personas act as stand-ins for real users, constructed for a given department that embody the typical desires, day-to-day tasks and concerns of other users in that department. Personas act as typical intranet users; posting content and contributing to office dialogue.

2) Understand what personas are not

Above all, personas are not top-down creations. They are of the people, by the people, for the people. This means that even if a manager or higher level leader is creating personas to use on a team’s intranet, they need to put the persona in the shoes of everyone else on the team.
Don’t use jargon-heavy business language and acronyms, and steer clear of complex technical language. If the average user on a team won’t find a piece of content useful or interesting, then neither will the persona.

Personas are a tool to push team dialogue in a direction that encourages productivity and effectiveness, but in order to actually build employee engagement, that push has to be on the team’s terms. Everyone knows that personas are constructed characters, but a good persona will allow people to forget that they aren’t real.

3) What are the ingredients of an effective persona?

A persona is much like a character built by an author or screen writer. Their backstory may be extensive – including details about family, personal desires, and whatever else makes them tick – even if this isn’t explicitly stated in the persona’s intranet presence. More important to articulate are the persona’s characteristics, needs and concerns within the office. Consider items like the persona’s roles and goals, daily tasks performed, what motivates them, and what frustrations they experience at work. These should all come from real life, of course. Talk to team members through interviews, polls, using your personal observations and any other methods of gleaning their lived experiences at work.

Add some personality too! Give your personas a name, like Molly, the Customer Service Manager or Sam, the Call Center Support Agent. Bring them to life, get them involved and the rest of their team are likely to get involved as well.

4) Keeping personas employee-centric

This may seem obvious but can’t be repeated enough; the point of utilizing personas is to target the end users of your intranet. As you move forward in creating and using a persona there are infinite points at which you may get creative and possibly sidetracked by thinking of content you personally would like to see on your intranet. Remember that while creativity is great and your team ultimately shares the same long-term goals, it’s paramount to stay in the headspace of the user. Your daily goals may differ drastically from those of everyone else on your team, especially if you’re a manager or someone else in a leadership position. In order to encourage employee engagement, remember that personas are ultimately for… well, the employees!

5) Start engaging

What kind of content can your persona deliver that will get your employees engaged? Bite-sized blogs on helpful topics are a great starting point. Do you work for a marketing team? Post the top five ways to use Twitter lists in your social media marketing strategy or an article on what to look for on Google Analytics. Choose topics that the team will find both helpful and fun. Polls, surveys and quizzes are also effective. They don’t even have to be directly related to work. Throw a poll on the team’s favorite places to go for after work social outings into the mix. The more they get involved, the more engaged they will be and the more you’ll know about your team.

6) Don’t stop there

What do engaged employees look like? They love their jobs, they go the extra mile, they’re productive. In short, engagement is a boon to workers and company alike. There are infinite ways to utilize personas and the intranet in general to bring employees into the fold of engagement. This blog post has only covered the tip of the iceberg. Get out there and get creative. Play around with how much of a persona’s backstory you share or what types of content they post.

Got a persona success story? Let us know – start a conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn.