A Day in the Life of a Strategic Intranet

Posted by Kath McNiff on Nov 29, 2018 11:23:03 AM

 

If I asked you to describe your current intranet in four words or less, you'd probably say something like:

  • Bloated and clunky

  • Chaotic and unloved

  • Old school

  • Wait. We have an intranet?

You're not alone - according to  survey by Prescient Digital Media, only 13% of employees report participating in their intranet daily—31% say they never do.

Why?

Is it because employees have no use for tools that make collaboration and communication easier? Is it because they enjoy using a million different platforms to get things done?

Not likely. 

Fast and effective communication is more important than ever. It drives productivity, innovation and employee engagement - a must-have trifecta in today's competitive market place.

Maybe it's time to flip the script on intranets. Maybe it's time to stop thinking of them as dumping grounds for stale documents and, instead, focus on the value they are perfectly positioned to deliver.

For a deep dive into leveraging your intranet - check out our e-book:

3 Ways Your Intranet can be a Launchpad for Success.

Set the Scene

So what would a day with an effective intranet look like?

Let's say you're a designer - working on a logo for your company's latest new product.

You can't work in a vacuum. What steps do you take to get communication and collaboration flowing?

1. Go gather your team

You know that you'll need buy-in from stakeholders across the company - so you start to build a logo taskforce. 

Searching through your intranet's profile directory, you easily zero-in on the right people. 

GreenOrbit-Staff-Directory-Search02

2. Make a collaboration space

Next, you setup a separate space in your intranet where your stakeholders can come to discuss requirements and collaborate on ideas. To kick things off, you welcome people to the new group and explain its purpose.

You upload the brand guidelines, along with inspirational images from your mood-board - a great way to get the logo conversation started.

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3. Book a brainstorming session

You know that face-to-face contact is important too - so you use your intranet to book a meeting room and invite your new taskforce to a brainstorming session.

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Then, you post the agenda in your private group so that everyone is on the same page.

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Your post sparks a few comments - people want to add items to the agenda. 

During the actual meeting, ideas begin to flow and you capture them on a whiteboard. At the end of the session, you take photos of the whiteboard so you can upload them to the private group later on. 

4. Gather Feedback

Back at your desk, the creative juices are flowing and the logos begin to take shape.

You settle on three potential designs and upload them to your intranet to see what people think.

For fun, you create a Quick Poll to see which one is most popular.

 blog Quick Poll

 

Most people seem to like Logo1, but they have a few comments related to color, size and font. The conversation continues back and forth - you take the feedback on board and refine the logo (uploading changes as you go).

5. Spread the Word

Finally, you have a logo that your stakeholders love!

You create a News article on your intranet to share the final version company-wide.

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In the article, you explain the thinking behind the logo and show its evolution from a whiteboard scribble to a polished work of art.

You sit back and smile as the Likes and positive comments come rolling-in.

6. Celebrate!

The Product Owner is excited about the new logo and decides to celebrate with a delicious lunch. He posts an invitation on the #celebrate channel and adds the event to your intranet's company calendar.

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Now, you deserve a break.

How do you apply for leave? Use your intranet of course.

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Your intranet is key to success

This is just one scenario where an effective digital workplace can be the wind beneath your wings.

It's time to take your intranet seriously - don't put up with a bloated digital workspace that slows everyone down.

Look for an easy-to-use platform that has everything built-in. One that drives productivity and delivers real competitive advantage.

Want to learn more about leveraging your intranet for better business outcomes?

Read our e-book - 3 Ways Your Intranet can be a Launchpad for Success.

Topics: company intranet, communication tools

The secret to writing intranet articles that employees love

Posted by Kath McNiff on Sep 26, 2018 11:11:44 AM

 

write_intranet_articles_your_employees_love

People are busier and more distracted than ever.

We live in a world where attention spans are 9 seconds long and 'content fatigue' is the new normal.

How do you entice time-poor employees to read (and act on) your carefully crafted intranet articles?

Here are 5 over-looked fundamentals that can make all the difference.

Know your audience

Maybe you've heard the adage:

"If you're marketing to everyone, you're marketing to no one"

Well, the same is true for that intranet article you're trying to write.

Start by asking yourself:

"Who am I writing this for?"

If your answer is "the employees in my company" -  then your canvas is too broad.

You need to zero-in on the employee segment you want to engage. What are their particular needs, passions or pain points?

For example, let's say you want to tell everyone about the new office that just opened in Japan.

You could create an intranet article titled 'New Office Opens in Japan' and then go on to describe when it opened, where it is and include information about what the expansion means for the business.

Nice enough.

But, as an employee, why should I click to see beyond the headline?

Sure, I'm happy we have a new office but unless I can see what impact it has on me or on others in my department - I'm not likely to be drawn in.

To encourage engagement, look at how you can deliver the content in a more personal way - by targeting specific employee personas. 

What's an employee persona? Glad you asked because here's a neat explainer video:

 

 

By understanding what motivates and inspires the different types of people in your organization - you have a better chance of engaging them.

Now, back to the Japanese office example.

Based on your new personalized approach, you could write an article targeted at the sales team:

Japan opens the door to new prospects

Or one that appeals to those in customer support:

What keeps our Japanese customers awake at night?

Think about ways to position your article to hit the sweet spot for a given persona.

To get started, you'll need to do a little research:

  • Check employee intranet profiles and make a list of job titles and interests.

  • Interview staff from different departments, cultures and age groups. You'll learn what kind of content resonates - you can also create great articles from the interviews themselves.

  • Conduct a staff survey asking people about their challenges, topics of interest and how they like to consume content.

Know your objective

Now that you know who you're writing for - it's time to think about what you want your article to achieve.

There are two main questions to ask:

  • Does it align with your Internal Communications strategy? If you have one, that is. According to a recent report44% of organizations don't.

  • Is your article addressing a business objective?

It's easy to fall into the trap of writing content for content's sake - but you should use your publishing power to make a difference.

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While all organizations are unique, most are focused on one or more of the following:

  • Productivity

  • Profitability

  • Customer Service

  • Employee Engagement and Retention

  • Growth

  • Change Management

Does your article move the needle on any of these objectives?

Does it help employees to do their jobs more effectively? Does it make them feel connected to their peers or part of a vibrant culture?

Purposeful content that is clearly aligned with your company's mission is more likely to engage employees (and win the approval of senior management). 

Respect your reader's time

"I didn't get time to read that"

Sound familiar?

Lack of time is one of the major reasons your content goes unread.

With so much competition for their attention, employees often put internal communications on the back-burner.

Instead of lamenting this fact, look at ways you can lighten the cognitive load:

  • Make headlines clear and specific so that readers know what they're getting into - this free headline analyzer can help.

  • Have a point and get to it quickly - don't be that person who tells meandering, pointless stories that never seem to go anywhere.

  • Avoid slabs of text and use plenty of white space.

  • Break up the content with scannable headings, videos, images and pull-quotes. 

  • Drop the jargon and use every day conversational language.

  • Take time to proofread (typos not only reflect badly on your credibility but they break the reader's flow).

Be people-focused

We've already looked at ways to personalize content based on employee personas but actually writing about people is another sure-fire way to improve engagement.

Tell stories about individual employees and demonstrate their value to the business. This doesn't have to be 'heavy' content - you can ask employees to describe their morning routines, give their productivity tips or share favorite recipes.

Also, write articles that bring customers into focus - this helps employees to see why their work matters and goes a long way to fostering employee engagement. 

Use faces in your imagery - and, where possible, choose real people over stock photos. 

According to Sally Hogshead, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Fascinate

Faces are so key to our survival, in fact, that we're born to be fascinated by them.

Get the message out

So now you have a persona-driven, easily digested, people-focused article with a catchy headline and fascinating imagery. Well done!

The next step is making sure people know about it.

Take care to add the relevant keywords, meta-data and #hashtags so that your article can be pushed out to the appropriate channels or found via search.

When you share the article on your intranet's social network, be sure to @mention individuals who might find it particularly useful. 

Although you want to avoid broadcast email -  you might consider sending out a round-up of the month's best articles.

What engagement strategies have worked for you?

We'd love to hear about your successes in the comments below.

Topics: internal communications strategy, company intranet, intranet, Internal Communications, employee engagement

15 Low Cost Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Posted by Annabelle Willis on Aug 24, 2018 4:36:11 PM

15 low cost ways to improve employee engagement

Unless you've been living under a corporate rock, you know that Employee Engagement is crucial to business success.

Countless studies prove that it encourages innovation and increases productivity.

It's also common knowledge that engaged employees deliver a positive customer experience and stand up as ambassadors for your employer brand

Most importantly, they drive profitable business growth.

But Employee Engagement is a journey, not a destination - so it makes good sense to look for cost-effective ways to engage your people on the daily.

Here are 15 low cost strategies to get you started.

1. The Essentials

Before you can address the more complex factors of employee engagement, you’ll
need to
get the basic 'hygiene factors' sorted out.

No, we're not talking about clean bathrooms (although these are super important).

We're talking about the fundamentals of job satisfaction - things like pay, benefits, safe working conditions and job security. Without these, your employee engagement efforts are doomed to fail - no matter how many perks, bonuses or carrots you dangle.

Give people the right conditions and access to the tools they'll need to get their work done.

2. Environment

You don’t need to install a Google-style golf course to make a tangible impact on employee engagement in your workplace.

Focus on the small but effective wins.

Common indoor plants are 'feel-good factories' that can calm stress and boost mood. According to NASA, they also filter the harmful toxins that plague our synthetic-filled offices. 

Office plants

A recent study by the American Society of Interior Designers showed that 68% of employees are dissatisfied with the lighting at work  - too dim and it strains the eyes, too harsh and it causes headaches and fatigue.

So unless you're working for Vampires Inc - it's worth assessing the lighting in your office to see if you could make use of task lamps and dimmer switches or improve access to natural light.

As far as other essentials go, never underestimate the miraculous power of good coffee and healthy snacks.

3. Clear values

In an ideal world, engaged employees work for more than just a pay cheque - they work to achieve your organisation's mission.Using the tools you have at hand, you can make sure that people understand the mission and feel connected to it. 

  • Make your values visible - on your website, your company intranet, on the walls of your building, everywhere!

  • Regularly talk about these values in meetings and CEO addresses, and how new projects and tasks will serve to uphold them.

  • Publicly recognize staff who best represent your values in the work they do

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4. Transparency

Transparency isn’t just good ethics - it’s good business.

Research shows that organizational transparency is the highest determining factor of employee happiness. So, it’s time to start sharing!

Open communication between management and employees establishes a relationship built on trust. And when there is trust - there is an emotional commitment to the company. 

The best thing about transparency is that it’s completely free. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Encourage regular communication from your CEO, whether it be a weekly internal blog post or a news article.

  • Share stories of what’s happened around the business that week, particularly within upper management, and tie it back to your organizational mission.

  • Host a quarterly company-wide meeting to discuss upcoming developments, departmental updates, strategic objectives and initiatives, and financial performance.

5. Recognition

It can be difficult to ‘switch off’, and many of us take home some of the feelings we experience at work.

Essentially, the happier our work experience is, the happier we are.

One of the most powerful determinants of employee happiness is simply being thanked.  And what are the other effects of leaders acknowledging staff’s efforts?

Employees feel a stronger connection to those leaders. Culture expert, William Craig, reports that “90 percent of employees who received recognition from their boss in the past month indicated higher levels of trust in that boss. Among employees who received no recognition, only 48 percent indicated they trusted their higher-ups.”

So, how can you start saying thanks?

  • In meetings, verbally thank employees that contribute strong ideas or that actively demonstrate your core company values.

  • For exemplary work, send a thank you email to the employee and CC a relevant manager or leader.

If you have an Enterprise Social Network or intranet, give the employee a ‘shout out’ in the appropriate forum.

6. Have a voice

Disengaged employees adopt the mindset that “What I say doesn’t matter." In contrast, an engaged employee contributes their ideas, and is confident that they will be heard respectfully. When employees give feedback, it shows that they truly care about the direction of the project or organization. 

  • In meetings, leaders should encourage two-way communication. Ask questions and show that you value the input of others. Where appropriate, action suggestions and credit the contributing staff member.

  • A well-designed intranet is another fantastic way to enable communication across all corners of your business and to help employees find their voice. To encourage adoption, set clear guidelines around which conversations should happen where and what kind of content is appropriate. Have senior staff lead by example via regular contributions and to respond to posts where appropriate - remember, there’s only value in staff voicing their ideas if you’re actually listening.

7. Relationships

Harvard Business Review reports that close friendships with colleagues boosts employee satisfaction by 50% and “People with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”

Help facilitate employee connections by:

  • Encouraging staff to connect with their colleagues by offering communal spaces, team lunches and outside of work activities.

  • Forming a team to enter a fundraising event or a social sporting competition to help personal connections flourish.

  • Assigning a mentor or 'buddy' to each new starter - a great way to build relationships and share knowledge.

8. Social cause

A 2017 survey by O.C. Tanner found that “Charitable giving is an opportunity for companies to reinforce their purpose - their greater cause, beyond just products and services- and help employees connect to that purpose.”

The data further confirmed that when employees participate in corporate charity, 78 percent of employees express support for their company values.

To get started, you might enter a team in a fun-run, hold a fundraising event, or volunteer at a local shelter.

9. Mental health support

With 6.7 percent of US adults having at least one period of severe depression per year, a 2003 study by Stewart, et al found that mental illness costs business approximately $225 billion annually. Those battling the black dog are likely to struggle to feel passionate about their work or perform at their best. 

Any mental health initiative must be authentic to be successful. People can sense insincerity from a mile away, so don’t offer to help if you have no intention of following through. Instead, put tangible measures in place to support your staff.

Let’s look at some actionable ideas to supporting your team:

  • Run an anxiety management or mindfulness workshop.

  • Embrace initiatives such as World Mental Health Day and direct employees to who they can talk to for help.

  • For those that are suffering - work with them to put a plan in place, including provisions for time off to attend counselling/treatment.

Encourage employees to keep an eye out for each other, and reward those that demonstrate camaraderie.

10. Wellness initiatives

The ROI of investing in the health of your staff can be seen beyond just employee engagement levels.

Harvard Business Review found that, on average, employers who invested in health and wellness initiatives reaped $6 in healthcare savings for every dollar invested.

For employees, wellness initiatives such as office yoga classes, gym membership deals or step challenges, are both enjoyable and beneficial for their overall health.It shows that you care about staff wellbeing, - and makes people feel supported and appreciated.

11. Inclusion

Embracing gender, cultural and LGBT diversity within the workplace is key to creating a vibrant, innovative workforce that can tend to a broad range of customers’ needs. In fact, businesses that operate in an inclusive culture outperform others by an incredible 80 percent.

For staff, it goes without saying that feeling safe, accepted and respected is imperative if they are to be engaged, and thus high performing, at work. Stephen Frost, author of The Inclusion Imperative, writes that “When LGBT people remain in the closet, they are 10 percent less productive than when they feel able to be themselves.”

Steps you can take to achieve inclusion:

  • Incorporate diversity into your key business values, and promote this internally and externally. Your company intranet is a great place to share this.

  • Celebrate initiatives such as Multicultural Diversity Day. At GreenOrbit, we got in the spirit by each bringing a traditional dish to share with each other at lunch!

At work events, such as your end of year celebrations, encourage staff to bring their partners and families.

12. Rewards

Too often, incentives are used as a Band-Aid solution for employee engagement. Having read this far through the article, you’ll now know that employee engagement is a complex beast. While these initiatives undoubtedly have their time and place, they form a piece of a much larger puzzle. 

Rewards should be reserved for engaged employees who exceed performance expectations.

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Rewards should be reserved for engaged employees who exceed performance expectations, rather than as merely an incentive for under-performing staff to get their act together. Everybody loves cash, but there are plenty of ‘money can’t buy’ rewards that will truly excite and engage your team.

Jeff Haden, author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win, suggests:

  • Lunch with the CEO: This provides a rare opportunity for the employee to network with a senior leader and share their ideas and thoughts. On the flipside, your CEO gets to connect with staff they might not know well, and gain insight to the business from another perspective.

  • The premier parking spot: Let the high-performing employee park in the best parking spot for a week. Jeff suggests even placing a small sign with their name on it to make it ‘official’ and to really highlight your appreciation.

  • Free team lunch: Let your employee choose where they’d like to go, and bring their workmates along with them. They will get to enjoy their favourite food and connect with their team in a relaxed setting, strengthening their relationships.

13. Work flexibility

Gallup has consistently found that “Flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.” 

In fact, 64% of employees would choose a lower paying job if they could work away from the office just 1 day a week.

Why?

Because balancing work and life is hard. By offering flexible hours, people are able to work when and where they feel most productive. They can easier balance family commitments and other passions while they work, alleviating stress to increase their quality of life.

14. Education

Investing in the education of your staff is crucial to helping them grow and develop. In turn, your business will reap the rewards of their new-found skills.

So where do you start?

One of the easiest ways to educate your team is to provide online training, allowing staff to complete learning in their own time, while it’s both easier and more affordable for managers to create.

If running courses internally is not an option, there’s plethora of free online qualifications that staff can complete. Gather a team and schedule a meeting each week to work through the course together.

15. Career development

The LinkedIn Global Job Seeker Trends Report states that the number one reason employees leave jobs is due to a lack of career progression opportunities - and the top draw card for a new role is the ability to progress their career. 

As discussed above, education plays a big part in this and is a great first step to building skillsets and experience. Commit to annual performance reviews and quarterly informal catch ups to provide feedback and direction to employees - ask them where they’d like to progress in their career, and define a pathway with KPIs to help guide them there. 

A great way to encourage staff to adopt a long-term vision is to highlight the stories of those that have forged a successful path within your business. This might be in the form of networking events, as part of a podcast or a video series on your staff intranet.

Employee engagement infographic

When it comes to employee engagement, the results speak for themselves; productivity and profitability rise, while turnover and absenteeism decreases. A commitment to employee engagement really is a commitment to success. 

Remember, seeing and treating your employees as a collective group of humans is the first and most important step.

From there, wholeheartedly and consistently practising these 15 tips will ingrain employee engagement in your culture. 

 

Topics: company intranet, employee engagement, enterprise social network

Centralizing Communications: Thou Shall Not Have Broadcast Email

Posted by Terri McKinnon on Jul 3, 2018 1:09:28 PM

banner-shall-not-to-broadcast-email-article

Financial services organization VicSuper needed an internal communications strategy that was as dynamic and efficient as their 260 person team.

Led by the Learning & Organizational Development team, the company embarked on delivering a new company intranet with GreenOrbit (formerly Intranet DASHBOARD). The goal: To push information and knowledge away from email and into an open, centralized platform.

The organization’s preference for email communications was purely out of habit - as that’s the way it had been for so long. The company-wide reliance on email was taking its toll, making it time consuming and inefficient for working collaboratively. The only way to communicate company news was via an ‘all staff’ email, which failed to engage users and was easily lost amongst other content. They were suffering from serious email overkill.

When disparate systems kill the message

The restrictions email placed on information sharing were obvious to the team. A document would be created and then converted to PDF for emailing. It was too difficult to upload documents to the old intranet, and no one would share it on Yammer as they were two disparate environments. This disconnect fuelled the team’s case for a new intranet, and was identified as a key business challenge.

The vision for the new intranet was that it would be the place to access information, communicate, and collaborate. They were eager to move these activities away from email, and into a central platform where it would actually be read, understood, and engaged with.

It was important to have a system that could facilitate multi-dimensional communications, pushing different messages to audiences in different ways. Pushing collaboration away from email and into iD meant, having a tool that allows several conversations concurrently through news posts, forums, pages and activity feeds – getting messages out at the right time to the right people.

After relying on email for so many years, the team knew it was difficult for people to change their habits - even if they wanted to. Some of the strategies used by VicSuper to drive user adoption included pushing the intranet to employees as the browser home page and committing to “No more blast emails”. In turn, they have found, people have taken to social functionality like ducks to water.

The centralized model

From the outset, the benefits of centralized communications began to unfold. The team had been rolling out a learning program called Activate - about activating their brand. Traditionally, they would have let the business know through an ‘all staff’ email - the same message, at the same time, with the same instructions.

The issue with this was that the course meant different things to different departments, and had different calls to action. Through their new company intranet, this information could be targeted to different groups in different ways. Users could then ask questions, offer advice, and share. Information immediately became more meaningful, impactful, and known. It was no longer buried away in people’s inboxes.

You can learn more about VicSuper’s intranet through their full case study.

To find out more about how GreenOrbit can get work going in your organization - check out the GreenOrbit Feature Checklist:

 

Feature Checklist

 

 

Topics: company intranet, communication tools, Internal Communications, new intranet, Social Intranet

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