7 ways to motivate employees to use the intranet

The technology is solid, and the content is in place, yet your employees are staying away from your intranet. Try these techniques to make it a hub for professional and social activity.

“If you build it, they will come.”

That’s the lesson of the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” about an Iowa farmer who plows his corn under to create a baseball field.

The key takeaway: dream it + build it = success

This is exactly what happened when you dreamed up and built your intranet, right?

OK, it may have taken a little more planning, strategy and ongoing execution than the dream/build/succeed process, but you’re getting there.

Here are seven tips that will help you realize that dream of widespread intranet adoption:

1. Make your intranet memorable.

Your intranet name should resonate with your employees. The generic intranet titles of Connect, T-Web, or <Company Name> don’t inspire action or engagement.

Drive adoption with a name that captivates employees and/or addresses what they can do on your intranet. Our customers have come up with fantastic names that led to successful engagement and adoption, such as:

  • Dwight (Pima Federal Credit Union): the employee know-it-all
  • The Pantry (New Seasons Market): describes everything you’ll find there
  • Insight (InTouch Credit Union): conveys what you’ll gain from using it
  • Fetch (San Diego Humane Society & SPCA): points to retrieving key information and resources

Your intranet’s name is integral to engagement, interaction and adoption. You can involve employees by launching an intranet naming contest.

Download this free white paper, “Auditing your Internal Communications,” for a step-by-step guide to assess which communications channels work best for your organization.

2. Make the intranet personal.

One-size-fits-all is frustrating. As a 5’11” female, I can assure you, one size does not fit us all.

The same goes for your intranet. Not all your employees will want to view the same content, resources, feeds, etc. Having areas that employees can personalize will drive engagement.

Here are some ways you can enable employees to personalize their intranet experience:

  • Personalized employee workspaces
  • Personal bookmarks and tools
  • Customizable employee profiles
  • User-set alerts and subscriptions
  • Open employee message boards
  • Follow-colleagues subscriptions
  • Employee status updates

The more that employees feel they own or have a stake in the intranet, the higher its adoption rate will be.

3. Make the intranet essential for work.

To perform our daily tasks in today’s knowledge-driven economy, we need certain tools, such as email, the Internet, the Microsoft Office suite or Google apps.

Why isn’t your intranet one of these tools? Because you haven’t made it essential to your employees’ daily work tasks. There are many ways you can do so.

One is through centralized document management. Making the intranet the go-to resource for all approved documents makes it essential for everyday tasks.

A second is by streamlining processes with automated approval workflows. Rio Rancho Public Schools did this with a 40-part employee-onboarding process, in which each party is notified of the task they must complete to properly onboard a new employee.

Using the intranet for essential communications is a no-brainer, but not every organization makes the transition from companywide emails smoothly. Making the intranet essential to internal communication requires retraining your workforce to check the intranet for answers and the latest information.

Lots of communication tools are built into your intranet; pick the best tools to engage your staff.

4. Make intranet adoption easy.

Apple is known for products that have sophisticated designs but are incredibly easy to use and adopt. Apple has achieved the trifecta of clean, simple and sophisticated design and usability.

How can you do this with your intranet? Through intuitive design and navigation, infallible intranet search, and interactive training. This combination can make any employee fall in love with and happily adopt the intranet.

  • Intuitive menu navigation and design

Keep it simple and direct.

Your global menu navigation should easily direct employees to your intranet’s primary areas.

Additionally, you can add a left navigation to your home page, team site or any webpage to provide access to quick links that employees use daily, such as a common form, document, site or resource (internal or external to the intranet). Here you can also decide whether using a task-based menu is better for your users.

  • Super intranet search

Do you remember the early days of Internet search engines when there were no magic algorithms, and when online search didn’t yield the desired results? It was frustrating, and you probably gave up before completing your task.

Unfortunately, many employees have had this experience with poor intranet search. They give up because it never finds what they need. Accurate search is crucial to your intranet’s success. Not many buyers consider this when researching intranet solutions, but it can be the determining factor between the adoption or rejection of your intranet.

Outstanding intranet search must be accurate, but it also should allow your users to search and refine searches. You can do this with one-click search filters, visual preview displays of search results, and advanced options to customize searches.

  • Interactive and intuitive tutorials

Teach your employees how to use your intranet with interactive tutorials that lead the user through a task step by step, not by simply playing a video. Interactive tutorials are powerful, memorable tools that make learning easy and fun.

Build a tutorial to help employees complete their profiles, or teach them how to complete a routine online form. Interactive tutorials can be used for simple or complex procedures for end users or intranet administrators.

5. Make the intranet collaborative.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a one-way conversation? These conversations make you feel juvenile, useless and bored. This is how your employees feel when you force information on them without asking for their feedback. One-way communication is a surefire way to kill intranet adoption.

Intranets have endless tools that can open two-way communication. Try these approaches:

  • Create areas where team members and project members have a dedicated space to collaborate.
  • Dedicate a space for employee feedback about your intranet, your organization and/or other popular employee-centric topics.
  • Hold ongoing conversations on subject matters that interest, influence and affect your organization.

6. A dynamic intranet is dynamite.

Too many organizations treat the intranet as a project with a start and end date. Once they launch the intranet, they check off the project as complete and move on.

The intranet should be an evolving space where your employees can learn and grow. This means you must have dynamic variables—not just static content—incorporated into your intranet. Try one or all of these ideas:

  • Multi-variable feeds keep the content on your intranet fresh and relevant, feeding in updates from various areas of your intranet.
  • Blogs on your intranet from executives, departments and subject matter experts keep your intranet content engaging, dynamic and new.
  • Build online training directly on your intranet with multimedia resources, online tests and course scheduling.

Keeping your intranet fresh and relevant will have your employees coming back for more.

7. Make the intranet fun.

Team-building events such as pulled-pork Wednesdays, casual Fridays and monthly happy hours make the workplace more fun and create a sense of community. Your intranet can be a hub for such things; create areas dedicated to increasing the fun in your workplace.

A simple way to add fun to your intranet is by recognizing employees with nominations and rewards, feeds that highlight employee anniversaries and birthdays, and stories about happy customers.

Try other features to increase the fun on your intranet, such as:

These are just a few ways to drive employees to your intranet. Have you successfully improved adoption on your intranet? Please tell us about it in the comments section.

A version of this article originally appeared on Intranet Connections.

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