Beyond the hype – three ways to ensure your intranet continues to thrive post-launch
How do you keep up the momentum and ensure your intranet continues to thrive after you’ve flicked the ‘on’ switch?
You’ve done the work to create a winning blueprint for your new intranet. You’ve executed a successful launch and engaged employees with how the intranet will help them with their work. It’s a great feeling when you first launch and there is real energy, excitement and engagement with the new intranet. But how do you maintain that momentum and ensure that employees continue to build engagement with and benefit from the new intranet?
Below we will discuss three ways you can focus on building adoption of your new intranet and maturing the way it’s used by employees to create value for your business.
Awareness and Education
Do not be fooled! You likely already know it’s not “build it and they will come”, but even with a very energized and successful launch campaign, the hard work is not done.
A social intranet is interactive. You aren’t just pushing out information, you are generating understanding and engagement with content. Moving from information give to real engagement requires employee understanding of not only how to interact with the intranet and the content shared there, but also why it’s useful. Help employees understand how it will help with their daily work. Communicating at launch is just the first step; ongoing communication builds awareness and when coupled with education, builds maturity in intranet use.
Develop clear roadmaps for how you will continue to promote and raise awareness of the new intranet, it’s features and content. You may want to have two plans, one that focuses on awareness creation and another to map out how you will build collaborative communication skills and behaviors.
This shouldn’t only focus on your content creators but also on the intranet users, managers and executives. Leadership has an important role to play in establishing that participation and engagement on the intranet is “OK” and that the intranet is a place where work gets done.
Interact customer South East Water nominated its Customer Services Director, Steve George, for the intranet stakeholder award as an exemplification of how managers can raise awareness and educate others in intranet use, breaking down organizational siloes and fostering adoption.
As a hugely influential senior manager, Steve had over 250 people working in his directorate and initiated the hugely popular “Steve’s Diary” on the company’s intranet, Gurgle.
This weekly roundup can cover anything from recognition of staff and business updates to celebrating births and marriages in his team or giving his take on company news. The hugely-anticipated blog features iconic selfies and is written every week by Steve himself, and sees an average of 1,500 hits each month. Through his advocacy and input, Steve raises awareness of the intranet as a place to not only get information, but collaborate, share, and connect with others.
Expand your reach beyond central communications by enlisting the aid of a network of advocates who will help spread the word about the new intranet, it’s features and benefits. Your network of advocates can serve as your “boots on the ground” across your organization. This is particularly useful if you have a small central team or a large, geographically distributed organization.
Your advocates should be more than just a mouthpiece. By providing additional training for advocates, you can create embedded functional experts and role-models for good practice in engaging on the intranet. It is also useful to have advocates representing differing geographies or functional areas of your business, to provide insight into potential business needs where the new intranet could provide benefit.
This tactic was deployed by Interact customer Mattress Firm, who identified an active employee participant on their ‘Gr8 ideas’ forum, Randy. Randy would frequently reply with answers to pressing questions and insights into how to implement ideas from a front-line perspective, as a store-based employee. The comms team responded by providing coaching and support for Randy, including guidance on preferred tone, useful answers and connecting him with other colleagues to obtain information he didn’t know.
As a ‘grass roots’ employee, Randy had a relatable perspective that created authenticity and trust from other users. He became a power user and a valuable advocate for the intranet, generating higher levels of engagement from staff members who felt free to express their views and let their voices be heard. A valuable touchpoint, Randy could also escalate ideas from his peers to management.
Business Use Cases
Making the intranet integral to daily work takes deeper understanding of how the intranet can help employees get that work done. This goes beyond high level goals like improved communication. By developing and communicating clear business use cases for the intranet you create examples and success stories that can then be used to communicate business value.
Prior to launch, you may have conducted end user or key stakeholder interviews. These are very useful for identifying and developing your first use cases, but don’t stop there. Be ready to identify new use cases as they develop.
Your network of advocates is a key resource for this task. Meeting with your advocates regularly will help you stay tuned in to where there is a need that the intranet can help address or a success story you’d like to capture. Be sure to communicate those successes, add them to your awareness plan and get them into your next campaign messaging. It really helps other employees imagine how they can create similar success using the new intranet for communication, content sharing, engagement, recognition and collaboration.
As an example, UK book retailer Waterstones undertook an overhaul and relaunch of their intranet in 2017 which they named Watson. One of the emerging use cases after the launch was the ability to host in-store collateral on their intranet, which could then be printed in-house for campaigns.
“We use pages on Watson to host PDFs of marketing materials for important titles,” explains Suzie Robinson, Intranet Manager. “Users in stores can browse, select and print the materials they need, saving on printing and delivery costs, reducing waste, and ensuring that all in-store marketing can be deployed in a timely way.”
As well as making us more commercially responsive, downloading and printing materials from our intranet in this way has reduced the cost of a high-quality print from £300 before to just £15. That represents total cost savings of tens of thousands of pounds a year.
By publicizing the use of Watson, Waterstone’s intranet, for this essential business task and focusing on the value-add for users, the organization made their intranet essential to the day-to-day jobs of its staff and hugely impacted on adoption and engagement. What started as a ‘quick win’ for just a handful of retail stores became an organization-wide success story.
A great home page, a clear blueprint for intranet design and a successful launch are just the beginning for sustained intranet adoption and engagement. Through planning and focus on these three areas, you will ensure increasing and continued participation on your intranet and see your intranet community of employees grow and mature in its use over time.
About the Author: Allison Maguire is Principal at Engage for Change Consulting. A Digital Transformation and Future of Work Strategist, Allison partners Interact to support the delivery of strategy services for organizations throughout the US.