Why a sense of community is integral to intranet success

The importance of creating a space where employees feel they belong was a key topic on this month’s IBF Live broadcast.

Technology can do a lot to build an intranet, but it won’t make that shared space a community. It takes compassion and respect for your employees, Angela Maiers, owner and lead consultant at Maiers Educational Services, told the panel on this month’s IBF Live broadcast.

“There’s nothing that can replace a community where you feel a sense of belonging,” she said.

Any organization can pull that off, she said, but it takes a lot of work. One company that seems to have nailed it is American Electric Power, whose director of internal communications, William Amurgis, took listeners on a tour of its intranet.

Paul Miller, founder and CEO of the Intranet Benchmarking Forum, the company that produces IBF Live, observed that the intranet is “very news-focused.” But it’s also built a huge community through the comments on news articles. The company tries to make participation “a comfortable act,” Amurgis said.

Articles on the intranet garner about 200 comments a day from AEP employees, he said. The best of those get “highlighted” and put under a special tab. Communicators often call or email employees who make especially insightful or entertaining comments.

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