Best Buy taps employee talent to create intranet

Retailer turns to its work force to build a dynamic, newsy intranet at low cost.

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The site cost a fraction of what vendors quoted, but to executives, there is an even greater value: employees are interacting and getting involved like never before.

“The leadership at Best Buy created a culture that is honest and open, not hierarchical, so it is right for social media,” says Barry Johnson, director of employee news at Best Buy. “We focus on employees’ strengths; we focus on what they’re good at.”

Figuring that they already had the talent in-house, Johnson’s team posted an online help wanted ad and chose six U.S.-based retail employees from 100 respondents with skills to handle development and design.

Two are on the Geek Squad, the rest work in computer sales, and home theater installation departments. Some create Web sites as a hobby, others freelance but all consider the work fun.

“The millennial employees share a deep second-nature understanding of the Web, everything from the structure, navigation, usability and what’s hot and what’s not,” said Johnson. “And they have very strong technical skills.”

With the blessing of their field managers, the employees were flown out to corporate headquarters in Minneapolis.

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