In these days of low unemployment and boundless opportunities, employee recruitment and retention are critical. Happy and engaged employees directly and positively impact customer experience and the bottom line. While the use of a comprehensive intranet was once a thing that existed only in tech startups driven by the millennial spirit, it is now becoming a necessary and innovative tool for every company to attract, retain and engage employees. A successful and engaging digital workplace connects employees, reflects and promotes an organization’s culture, and enhances worker experience while promoting efficiency.
All companies enter the intranet development stage focused on collaboration, communication and workflow management. The following 7 points will help ensure the intranet is built with employees in mind to promote a successful adoption.
The first step for a successful intranet is to go through a decision-making process to create rules to achieve your organization’s goals. Then review those rules and determine if they are working to achieve the goals set. Lastly, recognize that the rules created before launching the tool will change over time and require reevaluation and possible modification.
Too often organizations roll out a new tool and within a short period of time, its use and efficacy wanes. This may be the result of any of four reasons:
It is critical that a company creates positive guidance for employees when rolling out or modifying a digital workplace to avoid these pitfalls. This would include company standards on use of certain components for certain tasks and communications, and specific instructions for users. Also, further guidance can be given by creating templates – documents, pages, sites, teams, plans – to help get work done and enable users to follow the carefully governance rules put in place.
Changing the behavior of how information is produced, disseminated, and consumed is a key part of successful digital workplace adoption. The best digital workplaces act as a single, unified place where users can find corporate information. Even if the intranet designed isn’t an all-in-one system, it still needs to function as a one-stop-shop for users. This requires the use of a combination of single sign-on and linking from the intranet’s navigation and home page to create consistent access to systems that employees want. It’s a blend of both resources that helps work get done (operational and marketing systems, information technology, productivity and efficiency tools, form, etc.) and assists with employees’ needs (personal employee resources, human resources, policies and procedures, etc.).
To keep employees engaged and consistently using the digital workplace, it must have captivating and dynamic content. Most companies have a wide variety and large volume of content already, but it is not distributed in a consistent manner. For example, content that reflects a company’s culture and community involvement is considered very engaging. Often this content – such as company news and announcements, social events, community service involvement, etc. – is pushed out as central communications from the corporate or departmental level. Also popular is content that is focused on employee recognition, such as birthdays, milestone anniversaries, promotions, awards, kudos, etc.
The dissemination of relevant and timely company information through a digital workplace promotes consistent messaging company-wide so that everyone receives the same information in the same manner. With an enhanced intranet, this information can be shared in a centralized place with supporting pictures, links, tags and other information, as well as promote a feeling of personal connectivity. As an added benefit, this content can automatically generate itself from details in HR systems and other sources.
As organizations continue to grow, it can be increasingly difficult to connect employees, both to each other and to teams. It is human nature to interact with others that share similar interests (whether it be geographic location, field of expertise, or personal interests). An effective intranet can provide employee information, such as credentials, skills, certifications, languages, and even personal interests, to the rest of the company in an efficient manner. Access to this type of information can assist in workflow management by increasing the ability to leverage talent. If a project needs a team member with a specific credential, managers can easily find a person with the bandwidth and ability that is needed. The digital workplace facilitates efficient access to this information to enhance the ease with which projects are staffed and work groups are created.
For users of a company’s intranet on a search for something important, like benefits information or PTO policies, outdated information can trigger a loss of trust and thereby create a loss of engagement. Administrators should ensure all links and files on the intranet are updated and accurate.
To ensure that employees’ searches yield the desired results, it is important to understand what search results they expect to see. There are three types of searches: commercial, enterprise and intranet. In a commercial search, users are more willing to see results that they’re not expecting because it is typically more of an exploratory search experience. In an enterprise search, the system looks across the site and finds everything related to the query. Users know what they’re looking for, but they will get choices and may have to dig for the exact information they seek. In an intranet search, users know exactly what they’re looking for, and they don’t want to dig for it. They want the most relevant results as quickly as possible. For this reason, the search results should be limited to intranet content only.
Having mobility is a step beyond being mobile, giving employees the power to access information and work on any device, at any time, from any place. Mobile access can increase employee usage of your intranet and keep it relevant while allowing employees to access the information they need, when they want it, and on the device they choose to use to get it.
Mobility is considered a necessity rather than a perk as studies show that people check their phones an average of 100 times throughout the day. Mobile intranet users should be able to do the same things they can do on their desktop, like find an employee, locate area experts, discover and share content, stay up to date with corporate news, and participate in forum discussions.
There are two factors to continuous improvement for a company intranet: technical upgrades and innovations, and feedback from end users. With most software applications, there are three primary sources of positive change – application updates, application upgrades, and technical innovations. In all cases, there are varying degrees of cost and ease to implement and should be considered periodically. In addition to the internal applications an intranet may include, it is likely that it will connect several third-party applications. The developers of these applications are constantly identifying issues and, consequently, releasing upgrades related to the functionality, security, and relevance of the product. These updates, assuming they have been properly vetted, should be rolled out to end users as soon as it is technologically feasible.
The process of rolling out new tools and/or making changes to existing ones contains obstacles. It is highly unlikely that the testing done at the early stages of implementation will uncover all possible hiccups. However, if administrators remain open to constructive feedback from end users, the implementation and change management could provide valuable information and illustrate that the organization values the opinions of its employees.
Business is ever-changing; and the demands of employees and clients are changing at an equal or faster pace. While there are countless factors impacting the ability to meet those demands timely and effectively, one opportunity which can allow companies to remain competitive in the ever-changing economy and workplace is creating and maintaining an integrated, accessible, and rapidly evolving digital workplace.
Reprinted with permission from ARDA Developments Magazine, copyright 2019.