Justine F

Best Overall Intranet

Loblaw, Canada’s largest food and pharmacy company, employs nearly 200,000 people, most of whom work in one of the company’s 2,500 corporate, franchise and associate-owned stores. Tasked with an update to its decade-old intranet, the intranet team opted to take an innovative approach. That decision has led to Loblaw’s intranet, fl!p, winning first place for “Best Overall Intranet” in Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

The homepage of fl!p is different for each employee, based on the division they work in and their role (such as store managers, who see a store resource link and a recall section); “Quick Links” are also unique to division and persona. Yammer feeds are integrated on the homepage as well, integrating the intranet and Yammer to boost engagement and collaboration. An intake form empowers employees to reach audiences in stores.

Of particular interest are “message cards.” Employees who have been identified through the intake form as recipients of a message can mark content as read, removing it from their homepage view and archiving it on the message center page. Each message card also features running counts of users who have read the message (and those who haven’t).

Store managers can also report a recall as complete right on the page (or on the mobile version because, of course, all this is mobile-friendly). Also on the homepage, employees will find “My Schedule.”

Just one week after launching fl!p, readership skyrocketed and Yammer engagement grew 352 percent;  community growth reached nearly 300 percent over a six-month period.

Justine F

Personalized Experience

Both externally and internally, people want personalized content delivered to them. Marketers use tools like artificial intelligence to aid in the personalization effort, but such tools are generally not available to most internal communicators. Cox Communications has demonstrated that even organizations using SharePoint can deliver personalized content through a corporate intranet. In doing so, it’s won first place in the “Personalization” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

CoxOne starts with the newsfeed that appears on the company’s homepage. Here, employees see the latest updates to the pages and subsites they have opted to follow. The featured news also achieves a level of relevance by including not only national content, but content specific to employees’ location.

The most popular page on the site is the myHR Dashboard. While most HR pages feature only general information and links to follow to personalized content, the myHR Dashboard provides personal data on its homepage: Employees see, for example, a Paid Time Off widget that shows PTO balances. Employees can move a slider to see potential accrued PTO. (The previous intranet required employees to click nine times to get to their PTO balance.)

One employee responding to an intranet survey said, “Access to HR information on CoxOne is probably the best I’ve ever seen in 35 years of being in the business world.” The innovations have led to a 160 percent increase in visits.

Congratulations to the team of Chris Harrer, Jamie Stokes, Andrew James, Sandy Aguero, Scott Nelson, Brendon Schwartz and Deidre D’Asaro.

Justine F

Usability

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employs nearly 378,000 people. In an organization that size, one intranet definitely doesn’t fit all, leading departments like the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) to develop an intranet specifically for its own staff. Its effectiveness has won first place in the “Usability” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

The 2018 redesign of the intranet, which uses WordPress as its platform, was undertaken with three guiding principles: Use the natural capabilities of HTML and CSS for layouts, add content with purpose to meet the needs of stakeholders (including visuals) and make content accessible to all users.

With these top-level goals established, OIT set a series of usability goals. These included anticipating user needs through human-centered design (which addressed the accessibility issue; as the team notes, “Most VA employees are veterans, many of whom sustained service-related injuries that impair their abilities to consume information the way other employees might”); auditing and reviewing content and creating a content plan to refresh the intranet’s materials; and standardizing branding, codifying intranet design into a publicly-available design guide to ensure cohesive branding across sites and publications.

A significant research project was undertaken to assess workforce needs, the result of which fed the design. Since the update was completed, visits to the organization’s intranet site have more than doubled. A quarterly employee survey revealed that employees also are engaged in more two-way communication between senior leadership and employees in the field.

By focusing on usability, the VA’s OIT has delivered a resource that empowers every employee to contribute to the agency’s mission—particularly important given that OIT influences nearly every benefit, service and health interaction veterans have with the VA.

Justine F

Design

Whether employees spend time on your intranet or turn away is driven in part (of course) by the content, but if the design is terrible, if it’s not user-friendly, if it hurts your eyes to look at it, it could turn off employees even if the content is relevant and important. The importance of design is exemplified by Cox Communications’ CoxOne, which has won first place in the “Design” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

CoxOne was designed to provide users with a “weekend user experience” during the week. “We wanted employees to have the familiarity and capabilities that modern websites offer while providing key company information in an engaging way,” according to Cox.

Elements of the design include a flexible banner area which greets employees by name with a welcome message; each day, it rotates with an eye-catching picture or custom artwork that promotes an initiative, corporate brand or product launch. There’s a featured news section, a customized newsfeed based on the pages an employee has subscribed to, a poll and intuitive navigation.

At the one-year anniversary of CoxOne, engagements have reached a half-million per month (and climbing) while 91 percent of employees believe the intranet helps them get the information they need (and 90 percent say it has exceeded their expectations).

Congratulations to Cox’s Chris Harrer, Jamie Stokes, Andrew James, Sandy Aguero, Scott Nelson, Brendon Schwartz and Deidre D’Asaro.

Justine F

Use for Human Resources

It’s possible you have encountered employees from Magic Memories. The company’s 2,500 employees take pictures of visitors to entertainment venues in nine countries, including Dubai, Spain, the U.K. and Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and North America. Most of these employees have no access to computers while taking photographs and staffing booths. Their mobile phones have to work on the mobile network or the park’s Wi-Fi. That’s a challenge for delivering training on a pricey Learning Management System (LMS) that didn’t accommodate mobile. The intranet itself wasn’t mobile-friendly, either, leading to the introduction of a new intranet, called Click. It’s won first place in the “Use for Human Resources” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

Click enables the 60 percent of employees who are limited to accessing the intranet through mobile to get the news and information they need and connect with other employees around the world. Click also allows employees anywhere to take advantage of online training, which ranges from how to take your first picture as a Magic Memories employee to leadership training.

The redesign of the intranet also let the company introduce new features, like My Magic Story, featuring a different staff member’s story. The intranet is so popular it has become a topic of conversation among employees.

The organization took lessons away from the launch, such as making sure you have adequate time to go live, introducing elements of the intranet in phases and not perceiving the intranet as an intranet: “It can be whatever you want it to be,” according to Magic Memories. “Don’t feel like you are bound by what it ‘should be’; make it unique for your organisation.”

Congratulations to Nick Holmes, Magic Memories’ head of learning and development.

Justine F

Mobile Integration

Of all the employees who can benefit from mobile access to intranet content, law enforcement officers are easily one of the most important, yet you rarely hear about police department intranets being available through mobile devices. The Avon and Somerset Police in the U.K. saw the potential, though, and has now won first place in the “Mobile Integration” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

The 5,000 front-line police officers in Avon and Somerset—90 percent of whom spend their working day with only their mobile device available—use Pocketbook, which is now where officers complete nearly 90 percent of their daily tasks. These tasks include locating suspects during pursuits, using team spaces for missing person cases (ensuring multiple stations and shift changes have access to current information) and accessing procedures for dealing with incidents like stabbings.

Armed response units use the mobile intranet daily, while the communities they serve have seen a reduction in emergency and nonemergency response times by nearly a minute thanks to the mobile access. Through their mobile devices, officers can request information on suspects, and other officers can share their knowledge immediately. Their phones can also be used to deliver push notifications.

Pocketbook gets some 10,000 mobile views during the week and 5,000 on weekends, resulting in a reduction of 37 hours per week spent responding to emergencies. The team behind Pocketbook surveyed staff to develop priorities for the app, then involved more than 1,400 officers and staff in workshops and online exercises.

Pocketbook is a shining example of how mobile access can benefit both those who work at an organization and their constituents as well.

Congratulations to Scott Fulton and his team for developing such a useful tool.

Justine F

Launch or Relaunch

Center Stage was launched in the wake of the merger between Sony Network Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment, creating Sony Interactive Entertainment, home of the Sony PlayStation. Both companies had their own SharePoint intranets, neither of which were anything to get excited about. Corporate communications took advantage of the merger to introduce Center Stage, which has won first place in the “Launch or Relaunch” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

The new intranet took six months to create, with the combined efforts of IT, HR, legal, information security and companywide business units. Center Stage features livestreaming interviews with inspirational people (such as the founders of Atari and an astronaut recently returned from space), quick communication of breaking news and a reduced administrative burden. That last point is important: The information available on Center Stage reduced IT service desk tickets by 33 percent and cut HR questions by half.

This is the kind of result that makes leadership sit up and pay attention because it focuses on streamlining processes rather than nearly meaningless metrics like page views. (Who cares how many people saw it if it didn’t lead them to do something?) Still, it’s useful to know that 91 percent of all PlayStation employees use Center Stage for such elements as its usable information infrastructure, simplified social media tools, configurable notifications and much more.

Congratulations to Sony PlayStation’s Alex Wilson.

Justine F

Internal Social Network

Talk to most people whose employers have implemented Yammer and they’re likely to just roll their eyes. Typical complaints range from “There’s nothing there” to “It’s just one more place we have to go—a complete waste of time.” Like most tools, though, Yammer can be a powerful asset when it’s used correctly. That is decidedly the case at Farm Credit Canada, which has won first place in the “Internal Social Network” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

The networking and collaboration tool was introduced with specific goals and careful thought. Two types of groups are available: Official groups and employee-created groups. Unofficial groups include “Twinsies,” where employees share photos of colleagues who just happen to wear similar outfits to work on the same day. The group has nearly 350 followers who have viewed 238 posts and liked content 2,318 times; it has achieved more than 51,000 views in a single year.

Official groups show how Yammer can provide relevant information to employees rather than the one-size-fits-all approach that characterizes most intranets.

Some examples: The Genius Bar is the place where IT offers tips and tricks and answers user questions; it has 591 followers, 797 posts, 2,507 likes and more than 69,000 views a year. FCC Cares is where community investment and volunteer work are highlighted, attracting 472 followers, 665 posts, 4,662 likes and more than 73,000 read messages. Corporate Communications conducts “Yam Jams,” and connects employees with senior leaders through a group focused on Q&As with upper leadership. Yammer groups are also used to cross-post content from the intranet.

Congratulations to the FCC team of Jason Fiske, Twyla Selimos, Sarah Bultitude, Teri-Lynn Rogoschewsky, Kit Mazurak, Kendall Longtin and Trilby Henderson.

Justine F

Gamification

Gamification refers to incorporating elements of gaming into nongaming activities. Examples include completion bars, leaderboards and badges. It was badges that grabbed Adam Short’s attention as he sought to facilitate better, more productive teamwork and foster a positive culture of inclusivity and recognition on STEVE, the intranet of media agency The Specialist Works. His success has earned The Specialist Works first place in the “Gamification” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

Goals included celebrating employees’ differences, increasing engagement with the intranet and reinforcing the company’s values (Passionate, Inquisitive, Caring and Knowledgeable—PICK). The categories of badges Short settled on included PICK badges that reinforced organization values, achievement badges, badges for training and development badges and animal persona badges.

The animal persona badges were developed based on a Myers-Briggs-like personality test employees take when they join the company. Based on the personas revealed by the test, employees were assigned animals like the lion (decision-makers who take leadership roles and can be relied on for their strong views and management capabilities), the beaver (caring people with strong interpersonal skills, they can be approached for support and advice) and others.

Employees embraced the animal badges immediately. One said, “When I need to work with colleagues I don’t know so well, the first thing I do is check out their profile page; the badges really help me understand more about their personality type (and) how they like to be communicated with.” It’s a unique application of gamification that demonstrates the concept still has legs.

Congratulations to Adam Short of The Specialist Works.

Justine F

Employee Recognition

Adoption of Ellie Connect, the intranet used by the 1,600 employees of Ellie Mae—a mortgage software-as-a-service company—and the ability to recognize individual achievement was a top priority for the team as the company experienced rapid expansion over the course of three years. This concern led to a number of recognition initiatives, earning Ellie Mae first place in the “Employee Recognition” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

Ellie Connect introduced an employee of the month, with nominations from co-workers leading to recognition with a story that shares the employee’s contributions to the company and joins an archive of best practices. Articles and posts routinely celebrate employee achievements outside of work.

The linchpin of the effort is “Cheers for Peers,” a widget on the homepage that lets any employee recognize any co-worker for his or her contribution to a project or team. By seeing employees’ gratitude for the efforts of their peers in a highly visible format—and making it easy for any employee to contribute a “Cheers”—the widget would “solidify a positive culture where employees value each other.”

In its first two months, “Cheers for Peers” attracted 400 submissions; by September 2018, more 2,300 had been submitted (obviously meaning some employees received multiple “Cheers”). The page where the “Cheers” are archived has been viewed 2,700 times, and the feature ranked as the top method of peer-to-peer recognition based on the results of a survey. Sixty percent of employees use the feature.

Congratulations to Ellie Mae’s Sara Holtz.

Justine F

Employee Engagement

International travelers have most likely interacted with Travelex employees. Seventy-five percent of them—9,000 employees—are lone workers who sit in booths (known internally as “bureaus”) exchanging currency for people traveling from one country to another. Engaging such workers can be a challenge, but Travelex stepped up to it, and in so doing has won first place in the “Employee Engagement” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

There are often only one or two people in a bureau for eight hours a day, meaning there is little interaction among staff and little opportunity for building community and connection. These employees, according to Travelex, want to “feel part of something far more than being a lone worker at 2 a.m. at JFK, Heathrow, Perth, Mumbai or any other major airport, train station, store or tourist destination around the world, even when the majority don’t share a common language.”

Travelex’s solution to the problem? The Lounge. Blogging is at the heart of The Lounge, with every employee able to post pretty much whatever he or she wants. It is also used by Travelex departments, such as HR, which was able to reduce support tickets submitted by employees by half by communicating via the site.

The Lounge was cited by virtually all of the respondents in a recent employee opinion survey that showed a +25 increase in the employee net promoter score.

Congratulations to Travelex’s Tricia Scott.

Justine F

Visual Storytelling

Deloitte employees in the United States have participated for 19 years in U.S. Impact Day, a day of service involving 1,000 projects in 80 cities. In 2018, those employees collectively contributed nearly 190,000 hours of service. Telling the story of these employees’ efforts has earned Deloitte first place in the “Visual Storytelling” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

Projects ran the gamut from helping diverse, underserved groups reach their full potential to assisting community organizations. Employees and organizers shot plenty of pictures at these events, which the Deloitte intranet team sought to use in a way that would convey a strategic story about the breadth and depth of the event while engaging employees and doubling the “blockbuster” benchmark for total views.

The team surpassed its page view goal by a factor of two—quadrupling the blockbuster benchmark—by creating a special microsite dedicated to U.S. Impact Day. To ensure the site was accessible as quickly as possible after the event, the team worked with colleagues in India who could work on the site while U.S. staff were sleeping. Seven team members from the U.S. spent a Sunday curating the images ultimately used in the gallery, which let employees select a full dashboard overview, a photo-by-photo click-through or an arrangement of photos by geographic region.

The photos each featured a location/city title in dashboard view and a full text caption in expanded view. Employees discovered the microsite through home page promotions; the team also developed a “quick search” feature that brought the microsite to the fore when any employee searched “Impact Day.”

Congratulations to the team of Jennifer Almeida, Anil Bairy, Mary Bradley, Kelly Campbell, Surbhi Dubey , Kimberly Gavagan, Jere Hoilett, Patali Kadali, Anuradha Kumar, Susan Ityavyar, Xiomara Lopez, Breanna Lucas, Julie Shirazi, Prathima Tharangini and Julie Vallese.

Justine F

Interactive Content

With its 40th anniversary imminent, Micron’s communications team landed on the idea of a contest to engage employees in the milestone. They realized the contest could do more, though. The company’s new intranet would be a mere seven months old when the contest launched, and the team saw an opportunity to link the two events. Micron’s success has earned it first place in the “Interactive Content” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards

The team was able to review intranet analytics to identify areas where the intranet was being underused, and then built contest questions and activities designed to drive employees to give those features a try. For the 40 days leading up to the 40th anniversary, these kinds of activities (for instance, visit the Office 360 apps and use one) were mixed in as bonus challenges along with daily challenges, such as identifying which leader was responsible for a well-known quote, or other company or intranet history or knowledge.

The team created a site on the intranet dedicated to the game that spelled out the rules, listed the prizes that motivated participation, and featured a leader board that was updated in real time. A banner on the home page introduced the day’s challenge and linked to the contest page. Email updates congratulated individual and departmental achievements.

The game was available globally—which meant it had to be accessible in five different languages—and had to work on smartphones to accommodate the 50 percent of employees who weren’t wired. Registrations to participate in the contest reached 11,655, 60 percent of whom continued to play throughout the contest period.

Engagement with underused parts of the intranet also soared, demonstrating that the team achieved its goals. Additionally, the game was a hit with non-wired employees, especially the difficult-to-engage Asian audience.

Congratulations to Micron’s communications team—Bill Klein, Kenis Dunne and Dan Wilcox.

Justine F

Instructional or Educational Content

Capitalizing on the popularity of snackable video content, Lenovo introduced “Coffee Break,” which has grown in popularity among employees. It’s so snackable—and successful—that it’s won first place in the “Instructional or Educational Content” category of Ragan’s 2018 Intranet Awards.

From an initial 250–350 views, episodes now are viewed by an average of 1,200 employees—and that doesn’t account for those who may watch as they play on digital displays. Episodes run 3–6 minutes, covering business developments (including quarterly earnings announcements), product information (like new-product launches) and events. Episodes typically feature one of the communication staff interviewing a subject matter expert in an informal setting (like at a table in a cafeteria). To its credit, the team ensures the expert is also able to discuss the subject concisely on-camera.

Distribution through multiple channels is a key to the series’ success. Employees can watch it on the intranet, mobile app, global digital signage network and Lenovo TV, the network of televisions playing in Lenovo offices worldwide. Produced at least once a month, episodes are based on the team’s research into topics of interest to employees; additional videos are produced when news or events call for it. Most importantly, the videos are engaging and entertaining.

Congratulations to Lenovo’s Khaner Walker, Kristy Fair, Zac Lambert and Carol Guo.