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In this guest post, Kim Jones outlines how to use your intranet to maximize the skills and expertise already available inside your organization (internal crowdsourcing), reduce staff attrition, loss of corporate knowledge and valued skills, and empower your workforce to get involved in projects that interest them.

In our personal lives, we look for flexible and cost-effective online services in which to engage, like and share what we need at that moment.

As Pew Research Center explains, most of us now use these platforms, without thinking about them, to connect with “excess goods or capacity – …, space in the passenger seat of someone’s car, a room in someone’s home, a parking space, …”. As 79% of US job hunters now utilize online resources in their most recent job search, it is imperative that we also ensure that our organization’s intranet provides our employees the same online access to internal career opportunities.

As a former head of marketing and investor communications for a global financial services organizations, I’ve learned that the organization intranet has moved beyond an internal corporate and social communication tool to being a strategic tool linked to the organization’s business plan and performance systems. So before you start organizing contractors to do project work or you reach your Full Time Equivalent (FTE) limits, don’t forget to look at what is right under your nose and use your organization intranet as one of the most effective ways of accessing real-time information about your organization’s talent.

We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can engage with our employees so that we:

  • Meet our future targets by identifying and matching internal skills, knowledge and experience from across the group
  • Strengthen the creativity and diversity of teams
  • Engage a broader range of bottom-up as well as top-down ideas and solutions, as well as
  • Delivering cost-effective and timely outcomes.


Digital technology trends in organizations

According to McKinsey, companies are becoming more porous and are able to assemble teams with specialized knowledge. Kraft Foods, for example, has invested in a more powerful social-technology platform that supports microblogging, content tagging, and the creation and maintenance of communities of practice (such as pricing experts).

Benefits include:

  • accelerated knowledge sharing
  • shorter product-development cycles
  • faster competitive response times

A new way to manage expectations, staff turnover and related costs

  • For employees, the intranet is no longer just a platform for communication and engagement but a place for them, instead of LinkedIn or external recruitment sites, to put their hand up for project work or new career opportunities, and
  • for management, when we are meeting our objectives for the year, we also want to source employees who are available within a set timeframe and have the best fit of hard and soft skills for the project.

How intranets help solve the skills shortage

Legacy selection options

In the past, we tended to select the ‘Golden Girls and Boys’ who were recommended or identified by a line manager for team work or competence with a skill however this strategy limits a healthy and nurturing culture to find the best match for your project.

If you never look for employees with appropriate or even better attributes, you may miss the opportunity to develop a fresh depth of knowledge, diversity, skills and experience across the broader group.

The already identified small group of employees with repeated exposure to opportunities poses an increased risk of being head hunted, whilst also limiting their chance to be considered for other projects.

Challenges

Matching intranet functionality to those of the organization

Growing organizations need to find a robust intranet that reflects their needs, including functionality to allow employees to post their availability, passion and attributes needed for different project teams.

Customizing an existing intranet
Apart from the regular rationalization and maintenance that is needed so that there is only one organization intranet that addresses the parent organization vision and objectives for it and its entities, an intranet should provide each employee their own personal page that’s linked in real-time with posts or information about:

  • his/her feedback
  • her/his location
  • work preferences
  • style and availability, as well as highlighting
  • his/her ideas and interests
  • skills
  • knowledge
  • project experience, and
  • project team members with whom they have worked (with links to their personal pages).

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Filter and build that perfect project team

Team Workspaces of like-minded people can be filtered for a specific project’s needs that relate to, for example:

  • specific skills,
  • timeframe availability,
  • level of competence,
  • preferred work scenarios 

Then you can identify employees from regional locations across the world that match the needs of the project.

I used this very successfully with a merger and acquisition (M&A) project team that included an IT member in Edinburgh Scotland responding overnight to tasks that would be picked up the next morning by the legal member in Melbourne.

Encouraging management to use the Intranet

It is critical for successful implementations that:

  • management encourages its line managers, as part of their KPIs, to select project teams using the intranet skill seeking collaboration tool rather than relying on word of mouth endorsements, and
  • project team leaders respond to daily project team matching reports from the intranet.

Encouraging employees to use the Intranet

To ensure employees update their information on the intranet, all marketing and communication links to job vacancies and new career opportunities should exist on the employee’s personal page filtered to match her/his skills, preferences and attributes.

Today’s workforce is used to online platforms and it’s our job to ensure that the functionality of the intranet includes being an online career marketing tool for management as well as for employees.

Doing this minimizes loss of talent and re-directs employees into new career opportunities within the organization.

About the Author

Kim Jones is an independent non-executive director on private company, government and not-for-profit boards. Kim has experience in a range of industry sectors including financial services, global asset management, institutional funds management, superannuation, health, youth and education. During her executive career, Kim was a superannuation trustee, investor relations and communications specialist with ASX100 institutional fund managers and financial services companies. The earlier part of her career was spent as a marine scientist and teacher, and promoting new technology at the University of New South Wales.

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