Tips for Creating an Intranet Employees Want to Use

What’s the difference between having an amazing tool that informs your employees and creates working efficiencies, or a sad, fire-walled website nobody ever uses? Intranets can be a critical tool in bridging siloes and ensuring employees receive the right information at the right time – but all too often, corporate intranets tend to be the ignored digital property, like the stereotypical middle child. Exciting collaboration tools like Workplace and Slack get all the glory, while a neglected intranet collects dust in the corner.

The cost of an ineffective intranet isn’t something to ignore; research shows that a poorly designed intranet can cost a company with 10,000 employees an estimated $15 million per year in lost productivity. Additionally, our 2017 Trust Barometer revealed an implosion of trust, with CEO credibility bottoming out and trust in business falling considerably; the surest way for companies to rebuild trust is from the inside out, beginning with employees, and a sound intranet is one step in the right direction. By providing authentic, timely information and opportunities for collaboration, intranets have immense potential to boost employee productivity –but the right functionality and information are a must.

Here are some suggestions for how best to assess, build, roll out and maintain an intranet that will better engage employees and, ultimately, drive better business results.

  • Research, Research, Research – Just as any successful website knows its users, a good intranet keeps your employees’ needs top of mind and makes their jobs easier. But without user research, there’s no way to know for certain which features and content are most important to your organization. From initial ideation through ongoing maintenance and evolution, usability testing and feedback should inform your intranet’s features, functionality and content. 

  • Sound Governance – Who owns the intranet? It’s a valid question, and one that many companies struggle to answer. Management of intranet platforms can be complex and unclear, and it takes a village to keep it on track. It’s not uncommon for companies to throw the responsibility of building and maintaining an intranet “over the wall” to IT without clear purpose or objectives, resulting in a technology solution that rarely satisfies employees or fulfills long-term business objectives. Put guidelines and standards in place to maintain your intranet with a clearly defined purpose and ensure your cross-functional team of owners are focused on the right objectives with a clear understanding of what success looks like.

  • Content Strategy – A compelling content strategy is a must-have, as it ensures all content you create and curate aligns with your overall business strategy. Consider where the intranet fits within your digital ecosystem. This will help clearly define where specific content should live (e.g., on an intranet or a collaboration channel) and how best to cross-pollinate content across channels to ensure it receives the most impactful engagement with your employees. Take the time to develop clear criteria that will help you easily determine whether content is fit for publication, and be sure to have clearly outlined processes for both content planning (editorial/content calendars) and content development (production calendars).

  • Driving Usage – Driving employee adoption of your intranet is an ongoing effort; last week’s frequent visitors could disengage completely next week if they aren’t prompted to visit. Linking to your intranet content in everyday employee communications beyond launch can be an effective way to re-recruit users and continually drive traffic to your site.

For more tips on how to make the most of your intranet, read this Connections article.

Loren Stutts is a senior account executive, Employee Engagement.
Lindsey Schwalb is an account supervisor, Digital.
Charlie Taffet is an account executive, Digital.