Intranet Challenges Part 3: Increasing engagement on the intranet

Date Posted: Thursday, 19 December 2013 19:21
Posted By: Kerry Butters

Working culture has changed dramatically over the past decade and the intranet is all but unrecognisable compared to the days of being just a set of workstations, all able to access the company servers and send internal mail etc.


A big driver for this has been social media of course, and the way that it has changed the internet in general and then found its way further and further into the enterprise. This has led to a modern workplace that is interested in its employees and the morale and working culture that allows them to become passionate about their job.

Collaboration is a key driver too and this has been helped along by the cloud, not just for large organisations that have offices in various parts of the world, but for SMEs that can partner with others in order to get special projects done.

But what happens if you’ve read up on all this, recognise the benefits that a socially enabled intranet can offer, yet can’t seem to get employees to use it?

Engage with emotions

The problem in the above scenario is down largely to engagement. If you want workers to use the intranet to its full potential, then it’s necessary to give them some incentive. Engagement in general terms depends to a large extent on appealing to the user on an emotional level.

According to a Gallup study (back in 2002 no less), lost productivity as a result of employees being actively disengaged costs the US economy $350 billion annually.

Whilst this is a US example, it applies globally to those enterprises that fail to use intranets to their full, modern potential. A failing intranet costs, that’s the bottom line.

The same principles that apply to consumer-based social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, apply equally to the intranet. If what’s being posted isn’t interesting, useful to the employee’s job and doesn’t engage them on an emotional level, then it’s unlikely to work.

Effective emotions to appeal to include:

  • Amusement
  • Happiness
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Surprise

Of course, evoking a positive emotion is much more effective than a negative, especially in a business environment, so in this case amusement, happiness and surprise would be the key emotions to concentrate on.

Effective intranet content

In order to engage the employee, just like with social networking, a good mix of multimedia content will help. Perhaps a video of the CEO explaining his journey to the top, or the HR department posting memes that are relevant to the jobs of different departments. These can all be created internally and target the employees that they are most relevant to.

Branding the intranet is also important. This ensures that the employee knows on an unconscious level that the intranet is important to the company and so therefore, should be to them as well.

We talked in the past about the importance of getting everyone, including managers and CEOs, to create a profile on the intranet in order to allow people within the organisation to get to know each other better. Encouraging them to post regular content that’s relevant to their job is also important, to ensure that they are more ‘discoverable’ and can relate to others.

Get creative

Does the company have a ‘dress down Friday’ (or any other day, for that matter)? Then why not encourage workers to post pictures of themselves to see how different people interpret dressing down for work. For the intranet manager for each department, encourage them to get creative by:

  • Running competitions such as ‘blog of the week’
  • Create challenges such as giving something up for a day/week (chocolate, meat, something simple that a wide cross-section of workers will use/eat)
  • Post the best memes that are relevant to jobs
  • Encourage any employees taking part in a charity event through an intranet fundraiser
  • Favourite quotes
  • Caption competitions for images

Encourage thought leadership

This can be done by company executives, or employees at lower levels. Encourage adding to the department Wiki every time an employee finds new research to stimulate ideas. Reward employees that come up with new and interesting ideas by implementing an area where great, fresh ideas can be showcased.

It’s all about making sure that the employee feels that the intranet is of value to their job and so in turn, to them personally. Giving the employee a voice and a means to express themselves will encourage morale and in turn, productivity and a happier workforce.

This makes employees feel that they are valuable to the company and this is key to success. A worker that feels that they are valued is much more likely to give their best than one who feels that they are just a number on the payroll to the company powers that be.

Get people sharing – think viral

Again, think about how you can make content on the intranet more ‘viral’, just as you would for consumer social media. This means that the suggestions above such as caption competitions and great blogs should be easy to share across the intranet. Ideally, this should be done at an interdepartmental level to ensure the best chance of getting everyone engaged.

One of the main drivers for this can be the marketing department, as after all, it’s their job to come up with content for the company that is valuable.

Another idea is to create quizzes for each department, or even hold a weekly ‘company knowledge’ quiz to really get employees incentivised to look into the company more through the information that can be found on the intranet. If it’s well set up and there’s a good Wiki, as well as employee profiles, then this could prove to be a real success and it’s something that can drive productivity, so it needn’t be costly in terms of time.

Engagement through a social intranet is something that is necessary if you want to get the most from staff. Whilst it’s notoriously difficult to gain social engagement on the web, the enterprise has a much smaller audience and so this makes the job of engagement somewhat easier.

The returns, if the intranet is a success in terms of engagement, can be plentiful. Happier employees with the sense that they are valued, as well as knowing that they have all of the resources they need to carry out their job effectively through the intranet.

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