Intranets are an incredible tool for internal communicators, a private network website exclusively for your organization’s employees where communication and collaboration come to life.
Communication teams often establish a new intranet or refresh an existing one because they want to:
- ensure important company announcements are not getting lost in people’s inboxes or that staff are regularly inundated by ‘everyone’ emails
- improve efficiency cross-functionally among teams
- ensure the correct version of policies and procedures, brand guidelines, logos, and other marketing collateral are accessible and accurate
- improve information retention
Often, though, communicators develop an intranet when they hear directly from employees about feeling disconnected from headquarters. This is especially true for regional, national, and internationally-distributed teams.
Here are some tips to ensure that your intranet serves as an active communications hub for everyone at your organization:
Offer training before and after launch.
Every time an organization introduces a new internal tool or service creates an additional task for employees to learn while doing their jobs. And everyone has a different learning curve. You can move this process along by providing pre-launch materials, creating lead-up announcements to launch day and hosting training webinars where employees can pop in and ask questions.
This training should encourage employees to browse around and share what they like and what needs improvement. You can incentivize engagement with this training by hosting a treasure hunt or something similar to keep people logging in.
Build backlinks to make your intranet a destination.
You can empower your employees to be resourceful by building a robust site with information and resources where people can easily find what they need. Backlinking to the intranet is one way to ensure this happens.
For example, if you have a company newsletter, build it in your intranet then email it out so it lives on your site and is searchable beyond people’s inboxes. Build document libraries and have all essential files categorized and listed. Ask IT to set the intranet as the homepage on every new employee’s browser before getting their computer during onboarding. Encourage employees to link to the intranet when they email each other versus attaching files that may be versions old.
Share resources as quick links.
Another way to increase engagement is to ensure your intranet serves as a central hub for employees to access the tools they need for their day-to-day work. Have one page on your site that is prominently dedicated to quick links. Organize these links using buttons and short headers instead of hyperlinks and alphabetize them to streamline navigation.
Analyze and adjust.
You can start to track employee behavior on your intranet by seeing what content has the most engagement. Set up a time to talk to employees about pages or areas of the site with significant drop-off. Ask questions around user experience navigating the intranet, including if they’re having trouble with the search function and if the terminology used in headers and dropdowns makes sense.
Annual employee surveys also serve as an opportunity to ask about intranet use (and other comms tools) and gather feedback so you can make adjustments to your strategy.
Communications teams cannot take on intranet upkeep alone. Create a policy about how often information needs to be refreshed, archived, and sorted. Content and upkeep ownership should be distributed the same way work is at the organization (e.g., IT owns permission settings, HR owns policy and procedures content, operations owns risk assessment and safety-related content).
Work closely with your HR and IT counterparts to ensure the privacy and safety of employees, what information should be on the website, and who has access to edit, add, or remove content. If single sign-on functionality is available to you, use it. You want to limit the number of times an employee has to input their email and password to access company documents and information.
Nathalie Santa Maria is the owner and CCO Chief of Sunnyside Communications