How many ways can an intranet be effective in helping a business?

Your company’s intranet can help you overcome more challenges than you might think. Its role as a central hub of activity, discussion, information and knowledge-sharing makes it an indispensable resource in a business.

In short, an intranet creates a connected workplace. In an organization that is used to silo structures, limited communications with remote workers and frontline staff with information in disparate areas, this can be revolutionary.

If HP knew what HP knows, we’d be three times more productive.

Lew Platt – former chief executive of Hewlett Packard

But the success of an intranet lies in it being used and managed correctly. If you’re using it solely to find company information, store personal data and hold contact details, you’re not using your intranet to its full potential.

Your company’s intranet can offer vital tools to improve productivity and aid problem-solving, making it a vital pillar in the infrastructure of the business.

What should your organization’s intranet do?

  • Improve communication and employee engagement
  • Be the touchstone for introductions, onboarding, and training for employees.
  • Bring together knowledge and expertise, to become the place where people automatically go to find solutions to problems
  • Address challenges faced in multiple departments
  • Help promote your culture and company values

Most intranets are defined by features and functionality, including many vital attributes such as search, directory and dynamic homepages. However, an intranet shouldn’t just be defined by its features and functions. When implementing an intranet, a business should look carefully at its objectives, structure, and processes, and uncover the essential challenges their modern intranet should be supporting.

Communicating Change

When you want to prepare your team for a big change within the company, how do you communicate it? Effective change management is vital to ensure the smooth execution of even the smallest of events.

Many businesses suffer from communication problems, and when a change is on the horizon that could affect workers, it is important that it is designed, executed and communicated correctly.

Whether it’s a merger or acquisition, new product or service direction or even a new access code to the door – making sure employees are kept up-to-date with developments and helping them adjust to the new status quo is vital to the long-term health of the company.

But most people are resistant to change and it can take several stages before any adjustments are adopted and embraced by the company as a whole. Luckily, your intranet is the perfect tool to help with change management.

One of Interact’s customers, Dollar Finance, wanted a big focus on open and transparent communication across their workforce. Working with us, they found the best way to manage this was through their intranet, Daily Dollar – featuring their very own intranet character, Doris (below).

Dollar Finance intranet header

Their top-level management uses Daily Dollar to regularly open up the floor to all employees and discuss anything from the latest financial regulation changes, to whether they should change the opening hours of their outlets, and whether or not they should change their uniform. Traditionally, these were all top-down decisions, but Dollar Finance takes on the feedback, opinions, and suggestions from their shop-floor staff and uses it to make boardroom decisions. One good idea from a part-time employee could easily be actioned across the whole organization – which has an enormous effect on the employee mindset.

The Employee Lifecycle

A business can spend a lot on recruitment and training. But many companies fail to set up an employee with an onboarding process. The process of a proper introduction procedure for new candidates has massive benefits for businesses. According to Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D, president for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), new employees who participated in an onboarding program were 69 percent more likely to remain at a company for three years.

Many companies use their intranet to help them through these systems for new starters.

Pre-boarding: you can use your intranet to give new candidates low-level access to your intranet before their start date. This not only allows them to become accustomed to company culture, it also builds up excitement about their new role and allows them to feel welcomed before their first day.

Onboarding: Setting up an onboarding section on your intranet is incredibly useful for new recruits. Creating one point of contact for training, welcome blogs, people’s directory and mandatory reads (essential company information) is a great introduction to the intranet’s role within the business and a convenient way for trainers to manage inductions.

Business success new starter homepage

(A personalized new starter homepage on your intranet, which pushes vital information for the first few weeks to readers, can be a powerful way to welcome and embed new staff.)

Intranets are also essential for professional development and training. When it costs around £30,000 to replace an employee, (Oxford Economics) an intranet can be a valuable staff retention tool.

The Self-Serving Employee

When it comes to information gathering, it can often fall upon one person (usually the longest serving employee) to supply the answers.

While this may work in small set-ups, the bigger the company gets, the more information and insider know-how gets lost. Rather than rely on a human point of contact, a business should concentrate on creating an intranet that enables each and every employee to seek answers and information themselves.

By setting up FAQs, forums, a good onsite search engine and other information-sharing devices, your intranet becomes the organization’s go-to destination for finding answers and sharing knowledge.

Avon & Somerset Constabulary are a good example of this. Working in the police force, officers need fast access to a lot of information. The Constabulary’s legacy internet was largely unused, with staff preferring to ring up other people for information and advice. Their intranet overhaul with Interact produced The Pocketbook which not only equips officers with the content and information they need to do their job more efficiently, but it also allows them to collaborate and share information across the entire force.

Avon & Somerset police intranet

Scott Fulton, Head of Strategic and Digital Services and spearhead for the intranet project, saw Pocketbook win the Ragan award for Best Value to Employees.

An officer in the field, or a call handler, quickly needs to have access to a large amount of information. For example, a procedure so they can charge a suspect, or the process when finding a victim of crime. Now with Pocketbook, employees are able to perform their duties quicker with a reliable source of information.

Scott Fulton – Head of Strategic and Digital Services, Avon & Somerset Constabulary

Risk & Compliance

With every business, there is essential information that needs to be fed to employees. Rules and regulations, policies, law and requirements all contain information that can keep the business and the workforce safe. The problem is that this information is fairly dry, and many workers may be resistant in spending the time reading them.

Making these ‘mandatory reads’ – a section you have to read and then tick to complete, should be part of onboarding and yearly progress appraisals. This pushes the worker to go through the process of reading them and allows the employer to know the vital information is being given to every team member.

When Yorkshire Building Society revamped their intranet, implementing watertight policies and procedures process was their biggest challenge. As a major UK financial institution, this was the framework for their entire operation.

Yorkshire Building Society intranet

What was once unwieldy, fragmented and difficult to find has now transformed into what they now call their ‘crown jewel’: a Policies and Procedures user area that is cleanly formatted, easy to navigate and embraced by new starters and longstanding members of staff.

Our new policies and procedures section has created a sense of ownership among customer-facing colleagues. For example, colleagues now regularly use the feedback button to flag issues with or suggest improvements to, existing processes. They feel a great sense of satisfaction from being responsible for initiating change in the way we do things as a business.

Organizational Culture

Workplace culture has been a massive focus on organizations in recent years. Nurturing a positive company culture drives people’s behavior, productivity and contributes to employee satisfaction.

Your intranet is an effective device for promoting culture. Whether it is communicating your company values, reading up about different team members through personal bios, engaging employees with fun polls, or using it as the main communication device to speak to the workforce as a whole, your intranet can be a valuable tool in maintaining your company culture’s momentum.

But how do you promote your company culture across a geographically distributed workforce? Online retailer, AO.com tackled this problem through their intranet, The Fridge.

AO.com intranet

With a belief that engaged employees deliver the best customer experiences, their intranet team used The Fridge as a way of bringing employees together by focusing on the fun and social sides of the working day as well as promoting the customer-centric values.

We have regular features on The Fridge every day to engage people and to promote social interactions between colleagues and teams. These include everything from fun GIFs to competitions to win tickets to Britain’s Got Talent, which we proudly sponsor.

Laura Talbot – Internal Communications Manager, AO.com

Around 85% of AO.com’s staff regularly visit the intranet to get the latest news and collaborate with colleagues.

Keeping the workforce up-to-date with company news, with access to the right type of information, a great onboarding process and upholding a strong company culture are everyday problems that companies face. But, as we’ve seen, when you have created a proper implementation and deployment strategy, these issues will cease to be challenging and start to become just another feature of your intranet.