Social intranets, as opposed to social media, are based solely on the company intranet, rather than web-based social networks. Whilst many may think that this decreases productivity as workers chat etc., they would be wrong, social intranets engage employees with the company, collaborate more with co-workers and therefore improve efficiency.
According to recent research from Gallup Inc., when an organization has employees that are disengaged, then this leads to a lack of moral, lowered productivity and higher staff turnover.
“The world’s top-performing organizations understand that employee engagement is a force that drives business outcomes,” the analysts point out. However, it seems that engagement levels remains dismally low in many organizations, with many reporting that the average employee engagement level is at an all-time low.
So what does this have to do with social intranets?
Social intranets make us feel like they are doing something that is recognized by the company. It can take many forms and should be handled by IT, on the server side, for simplicity of use.
Collaboration is one of the most powerful trends taking place right now, not only can a social intranet ensure that we can easily work with others, even those away from the office, who may be working from home or on the road can benefit from it, if they have permission to access the intranet remotely. This way we are always in touch with colleagues when something inevitably comes up.
- Collaboration – a powerful tool and one that is becoming more important in this ever-connected world we live in.
- Contribution – although some social intranets are more closed than others, it’s wise to choose a model into which everyone can place work into a ‘library pool’ without having to go through an approval process. This makes work streams more efficient and enterprise can “tap into the collective conscious of [their] employees”.
- Two-way conversations – just as a discussion can be held on a social media website, so too can employees and bosses alike hold talks about work processes and projects. Employers can even encourage workers to ‘like’ content as it passes through the social intranet therefore making their employees feel important and like they’re making a difference. Let’s face it, from a workers point of view, it’s easy to become demoralized when you never see or hear from the boss unless he’s giving you a telling off!
- Employee interaction: people work better together when they get to know each other and social intranets can certainly help out on this. Imagine you’ve just started a new job and feel that everyone is looking at the new girl – enter social intranet.
Any organization’s asset is its employees and those that have access to social intranets are not only more productive but feel they have more value. Imagine an enterprise which not only captures the ideas and intelligence of a collective, but allows workers to share and discover knowledge in a way not possible before social intranets.
Aspects of a social intranet
There are many providers of social intranet solutions of course, but how do you decide which is best for your business? Of course, it depends on the needs and size of your organization but in general will have the following:
- People profiles – just like with a normal social media site, you can set up profiles which allows you to share who you are within the organization. This is very useful for finding someone with certain skills with whom you can collaborate, as well as making new work buddies.
- Intranet Wiki – we all know what a ‘wiki’ is these days, imagine having one of your own that collates all of your employee assets and puts them into a wiki, which can be searchable, contain links to other information and more. That’s the power of an intranet wiki. This can be used by people within the organization, knowledge sharing and creating content that can be placed in the wiki, which is then referable to others in different departments.
By engaging people in this way, organizations can really make you feel that they aren’t just working for a faceless company, but are interacting, collaborating and all round improving the business.
This gives a feeling of empowerment, rather than feeling like just a day-to-day drudge around the office. This can be maximized upon by being inventive with content; run social polls about contracts or even how the workers feel about their job. Forums and discussion boards also help people to interact and gain knowledge from each other.
In short, savvy organizations know that the use of social intranets “actively solicit employees” opinions, foster discussions, and give employees opportunities to make meaningful connections,” according to Gallup.
Tracy Hutton, who managed an intranet during her time at Intrawest Placemaking says the impact of social on the organization was very positive for employees, who would tell her: “that’s amazing that you trust us to edit our own pages […] the intranet told them, ‘We trust you, we believe in you, we want your ideas’ – and for that reason, they felt encouraged to cooperate”.
In fact, as a part of the research carried out by Gallup, employees were asked if they had recently been praised for their work; where the answer is yes, Gallup established, this was because workers were more likely to be engaged at work.
Will it work for my company?
If implemented well, then yes. Organizations must ensure that it’s measured on a regular basis to see what type of content is being produced, how it’s managed and how well employees are engaged with it. CEOs should be the first to complete their profile and begin ‘getting to know’ their workers, they should get involved with forums, discussions and contribute content that can really engage their workers through learning more about the company and its leaders.
Think about it as LinkedIn where everyone on the site works for the same company and see how many more employees connect with everyone from the mailroom man to the boss. Allow people to set up their own work-related discussions and polls to ensure they really get to love working for you.
The best thing about social intranet is where once a worker may feel stuck on a certain aspect of a project, they can simply use a search function and find information on it, or even people who have or are working on something similar.
Another, important, reason to invest in a social hub is that according to a 2008 Aberdeen Group Research paper, those using social intranets including blogs, wikis and networking tools found that year-on-year, organizations who do use them experienced an 18% improvement in employee engagement than those who didn’t; the ones who didn’t saw a 1% development of engagement.
To sum up, the use of social intranets has proved to be a positive business tool that shouldn’t be ignored, especially by large enterprises. It’s proven to increase collaboration, happier workers who feel their voice is being heard at last and best of all, an increase in productivity and profits.