We’re firm believers in vibrant intranets. More than a place to put an office directory and HR documentation, intranets have the capacity to help you communicate better with employees, and measure the effectiveness of that communication to communicate even better with employees, and measure the… you get the idea. What’s so great about intranets? To start with:
• Your employees are busy (we hope). By posting information to an intranet, you’ll unclutter their inboxes by at least one email. No employee doesn’t like that. It might not be easy to transition from emails to an intranet, but with a little practice they’ll get used to, and may even prefer, checking for information they need, rather than being interrupted by information on next week’s fire drill.
• Unlike standard email or printed newsletters, you can actually track the information people seek out on the intranet. You can determine what content employees consume and how often they check back for updates what communications - in other words which reports are effective and widely-read, and which ones can and should be discarded altogether. As a manager at national restaurant chain Panera puts it, “we have an initiative to reduce the number of reports we produce.”
• Social networking isn’t just for teenagers. New utilities like Socialtext (a wiki-intranet hybrid) are facilitating a way for employees to communicate at and about work on their own terms. The intranet can help you keep the pulse of your organization, give you access to employees’ ultroneously-generated ideas, and build a sense of shared purpose and collective ownership from the C-suite to the front lines.
It takes thick skin and a commitment to honest exchange, but it works. A certain dash of realism is required – after all, your intranet is competing with the internet at large. But the potential efficiencies, learning opportunities, and community-building aspects can make it worth the effort to create an intranet that’s as engaging and useful as your website should be.