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Time to Update Your Intranet

Despite being one of the best ways to reach huge numbers of employees, company intranets rarely provide the information employees are looking for

Internal communicators find it understandably tough to get their firm’s message across to busy employees, who have to deal with exponentially more information – both outside and inside work – than they did even three years ago.

The key, as with so much in business, is to prioritize quality over quantity. As this series of posts shows (see the list to the right), comms teams are far better off concentrating their time and money on a few channels than blasting information at employees from all angles and hoping the message sticks.

One of these channels is certainly the company’s intranet home page. Out of 12 major channels available to comms teams – including email, leadership briefings, internal social media, and digital signage – intranets are the third most popular, according to CEB data from a survey of over 1000 employees.

Why You Need to Work on Your Intranet

There’s good news and bad news about intranets in the data. The good news is it has incredible reach — logically so, given employees usually have to go through that page to get anywhere else.

But the bad news is that most of the current attempts at designing an intranet page are failing. Survey results showed employees rated intranets lowest for how useful they found them out of the 12 channels tested.

So the data clearly show that, for most comms teams, improving their intranet could make a big difference to getting their messages across.

Ideas for Doing So

One way of helping employees get the information they need to do their jobs better comes from CEB data on how employees learn about strategy. Almost 40% of employees are “self-directed” in their learning, which means they actively seek out strategy information, stay informed on “big picture” market context, proactively discuss it with colleagues, and think about how it affects their work.

The intranet homepage is a great way to reach this segment. These employees are interested; comms teams just need to get them the information.

The comms team at a large aircraft manufacturer in CEB’s networks does this well, and focuses on two things in particular.

  1. Paring the site down: The intranet site is streamlined, helping employees to focus on the most important information.

  2. Taking out the puff: The reporting is objective. The comms team decided to focus on educating employees about operating and market dynamics to help them make real-time decisions about their work, versus feel-good company stories that focus on improving engagement. Those celebration stories can be shared through other channels.

Based on the data above, it’s clear that the decision to put information of substance on the homepage — so that it’s not just a directory to intranet portals, or a collection of stories of achievement — is a smart one.

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