10 common intranet complaints—and how to resolve them

Problems with search and navigation or an abundance of stale, irrelevant information on the home page—all can turn off your employees. Try these approaches to freshen up and streamline your site.

Your intranet portal helps you connect with your employees, collaborate on documents/projects, and create content to improve overall business efficiency.

However, if you aren’t getting the engagement you are looking for from your users, you may not be harnessing all the advantages your intranet has to offer.

To zero in on the lack of engagement on your intranet and within your company, you may want to check your intranet analytics to determine which areas are getting the least amount of traffic. Or you might add a quick poll or an online survey to your home page to get feedback from your employees.

Though each company is different, over the past 15 years we have worked with a variety of intranet users to uncover and resolve these engagement issues. Below are the 10 most common complaints about your intranet portal and suggestions for resolving them:

1. “I can’t find anything on our portal.”

More often than not your employees will hit the intranet home page seeking something specific. If an initial scan of the menu options doesn’t immediately yield their desired result, you can bet they’re headed straight for the search box. This is fine if they are continually using the search feature and finding what they’re looking for, but it doesn’t help them understand where things are located on the site, nor learn about other content that is available to them. Ideally, a site should be easy to navigate so it’s simple to find content right from the home page.

The three-click rule says that it should take no more than three clicks from the home page to find the content they are looking for.

What exactly is “simple navigation” though? Well, organizing your intranet portal into sub-sites in order to group content makes it easier for users to locate HR documents, for example. Mega Menus also help you add content to the main menu navigation, grouped under headings to help organize content, and makes commonly accessed documents and forms accessible through one click from the home page. No need to use that search box when everything is organized neatly on the home page.

2. “It takes too many steps to access documents.”

Before buying an intranet, many companies would keep their documents on the shared drive. This is pretty easy to get to with one click from the desktop. Even though employees perceive opening their browser, navigating to the intranet URL, and logging into the site as a longer process, their documents are much easier to find on your intranet than digging through the shared drive and various folders.

Because documents are more organized and up to date on the intranet, we want to make sure that the intranet is easy to get to, so your employees can reap these benefits. That’s why Intranet Connections integrates with Active Directory, to encourage employee single sign-on. Pass-through authentication and adding the intranet as the user’s home page means the intranet is also only one click away, accessible simply by opening your browser.

3. “I’m the only one adding content.”

You’ve been given the task of intranet management, and therefore you should control all the content on the intranet, right? Problem is, the intranet isn’t just a place to post company news and employee information.

It’s an internal business system full of moving parts for every part of your organization, including forms, blogs, news, photos, company store items, staff profiles, and so on. One person controlling all the information on the intranet is more than a full-time job, and you have lots of other things to take care of.

4. “Our intranet portal is too crowded.”

If you’ve had your intranet for a while, you know that content tends to build up. This content eventually becomes stale and makes more relevant content harder to find. This is usually when your employees start to default to that trusty search box.

Rather than mixing your old content in with your new posts, turn on archiving to automatically move old content into a separate archive folder after a certain date or time frame. You can set an automatic archive date for all posted content, or allow the user posting the item to choose their date.

Archived content is still easily searchable should you need to look up dated material, but that does not hamper searches of your more current items. Take things one step further by turning on automatic cleanup to permanently delete archived items off the site after a specified number of years.

5. “I don’t know how to use our portal.”

Whether you’re an administrator unsure about how to manage the intranet site, or an end user confused about how to find what you need and add content, not knowing how to use the intranet efficiently can lead to frustration and certainly affect your intranet engagement.

6. “Our intranet portal is no fun.”

Your employees pop onto the intranet, grab the material they need, and pop off, but there’s no real engagement. Social tools such as an Employee Wall, Instant Chat, and Social Toolbox are all great engagement tools to get your employees interacting through the intranet portal.

If you aren’t quite ready for social media, there are lots of other options to encourage your users to engage such as adding a Kudos Application, an Idea Share/Exchange Application, a Company Store, Photo Albums, or a Buy & Sell Exchange.

Adding these items to your intranet not only will help your employees boost their efficiency, but will also improve employee morale and increase job satisfaction.

7. “The information isn’t relevant to me.”

Many companies have various departments that use the intranet for very different things. When Miranda from HR pops onto the intranet she’s digging for very different things from what Charles in IT needs. The goal of the intranet home page is to make content relevant and easily accessible to all employees in every department, but depending on the size and breadth of your organization, this may be easier said than done.

To improve relevance, we encourage companies to use content feeds on their home page to pull out newsworthy items from each department site and highlight them in one area, to keep all employees in the know. However, if you find that your company requires unique content for each department or location, the use of sub-sites delivers topic-specific content to users within a particular group.

Take this one step further by redirecting logins to their specific sub-site home page upon login, and you’ve suddenly got an intranet directly relevant to each logged in employee.

8. “The intranet portal is ugly.”

This one usually comes up after an intranet has been in place for a number of years and left stale without updates. The color scheme that initially you found appealing is old and outdated, but you just don’t have the time to do an entire site redesign, especially for something seemingly trivial.

Well, I can tell you that intranet portal design is not trivial; it is a key part of user engagement. Your employees are going to be hesitant to use a system that looks stale, outdated, or even ugly, even if the content is there. Rather than spend a huge chunk of time outlining and carrying through an entire intranet portal redesign, you might first try incremental design changes. You may find that even the smallest tweaks over time bring about drastic improvements.

9. “I don’t know how to measure intranet ROI.”

It seems like your employees are using the intranet, and that things are running smoothly. However, you’re really not sure if you’re achieving any significant ROI. You see the soft benefits, such as the convenience of finding documents and enhanced communication among employees, but what about cost savings, increased revenue, and improved efficiency?

A well-crafted intranet plan can greatly improve your intranet ROI. Follow these 10 Ways to Improve Intranet ROI, and you’ll see returns in no time.

10. “Our intranet content is monotonous.”

You’ve been writing company news articles, blogs, and other content on your intranet for years now. Eventually, it all starts to sound the same coming from one individual, and your employees are going to get a sense of déjà vu. Another blog post on leadership, hoorah!

If you would like to continue to hold the reins to the intranet portal, try spicing up your writing style to gain interest and inspire action through the content being posted on the site.

Alternatively, you can use smart delegation to hand off different areas of the site to various users to add in their own content. Writing content every once in a while spurs creativity and creates more engaging content than multiple posts from the same user.

Resolving your intranet complaints

You’re off to a great start: By simply reading this post, you’ve taken the first step to improving employee engagement on your intranet. A next step could be setting up a survey with these 10 top complaints and getting your employees to vote on their top reasons, to be used as a base for making changes.

Keep in mind that changes don’t have to be made all at once, even tweaking one or two elements could make a big difference in the engagement on your intranet portal.

A version of this article first appeared on Intranet Connections.


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