Hold on a second! Before you give up on this important communication vehicle, consider the four top reasons why no one is using it and focus on improving it.
Intranets can be powerful places to store important information – policies, procedures, helpful productivity tools (such as links to your timekeeping systems), a place to get news and more.
Here are a few typical intranet problems and their remedies.
1. People can’t use your intranet
Employees without desks, such as physicians, construction workers, salespeople, etc., need access to your intranet on their personal mobile devices. It enables them to surf on their terms, when they have time.
Employees who work after traditional hours (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) also need access to the intranet from their devices. That way, they don’t have to lug around heavy computer equipment and can get to important information, responding quickly.
Your intranet should work on every major device:
It’s possible to make intranets mobile-friendly these days. Responsive design uses code systems like Bootstrap so your intranet can grow and scale with the needs of your employees.
2. People can’t find anything on your intranet
Intranets are only useful when people can find information easily, when they need it. That means search must work, producing meaningful results. Menus and navigation should be easy and intuitive – the way everyone in the organization thinks about information.
With some user experience (UX) work, you can improve your search and navigation significantly. Read a few easy ways to boost search and navigation.
3. People don’t know useful things are on your intranet
Unfortunately, perception is everything. If employees can’t find useful items or can’t use the intranet from their smartphones, they assume good information doesn’t exist on your intranet.
That’s why it’s important to educate your employees when they’re new hires and give them reminders as they continue with your organization:
- Tell employees what’s available and how it can help them. Some of the most useful items include items that relate to people’s health and financial wellness: benefits, payment information, PTO requests, etc. Also, think about what makes employees productive: org charts, links to systems they use weekly or daily, organizational metrics on goals and more.
- Communicate when you have new or updated items.
- Include intranet training in other training. For example, when employees are brand new, have them use the intranet to get to new hire information – from W-2s to company policies. As you continue to provide them training, ask them to use the intranet to find those resources – security training, harassment training, etc.
- Identify super users. For every online system, there are people who know how to expertly use them. The same is true for the intranet. Your super users will probably include employees you’ve asked to update their department and project information. Get them to communicate the virtues of your intranet and share when they’ve updated information.
- In all-employee meetings, ask leaders to navigate to the intranet to show some of the information they discuss in the meeting. When the meeting is over, add the video to the intranet as well as the slides used in a well-known area.
- Ask people to provide their favorite intranet tips and give prizes for good information. By making it interactive and fun, you’re increasing its popularity and usage as well as buy-in.
- House important and useful things on your intranet. If you haven’t already, think about what you can store on your intranet that people use regularly and make it easy to get to.
- Embed social in your intranet rather than spend money on a separate solution – enabling people in a page to communicate and collaborate.
4. People don’t trust the information on your intranet
Again, perception is everything. It may be that just a few pages are outdated. But if people see information that’s clearly out of date – old brand and logos, dates that go back more than a year, etc. – they’ll make assumptions about more of the intranet.
- Have a governance plan. This includes who’s responsible for which pages, how often people should update and how internal communications will audit information. It wouldn’t hurt to have that information easily available and communicate about it once a year. This gives people confidence you’re ensuring your intranet is accurate.
- Communicate when there’s change on your intranet. If it’s a small departmental change, leave that up to the employees making the change to determine whether to notify employees.
- Include a place on every page of your intranet that’s easily visible where people can submit corrections or note issues. You can create a mailing list that goes to your internal communications team and the people responsible for intranet pages.
- Alert employees why changes may take a while to complete as well as how people can receive information in the meantime. For example, if two major departments merged, ensure people understand how long it’s going to take to merge the pages and when to expect correct and accurate information. Let them know how to get information they need – who to talk with or which phone number to use. You don’t need “under construction” visible on your pages.
- Consider adding the updated date to the bottom of pages. If the content on the page is evergreen, or changes infrequently, you can remove the updated date or communicate on the page how often the information is updated. Many organizations add “new” to pages; that’s not a best practice as it could go out of date quickly.
- Make your intranet easy to update. If it’s not easy to update, no one will ensure it’s updated, despite having governance plans.
Your intranet is worth salvaging. With just a few small changes, you can transform your intranet into a powerful communications vehicle. Metrics will improve. Employees will use it, thinking of it as a productivity tool. And you’ll be saving your organization money and time.