9 Ways to Make Your Intranet Suck Less

The results of the employee satisfaction survey are in. And yet again, employees complain of not knowing their colleagues, what’s going on with the company or where to find important information, etc. You think indignantly, “How? This is all very clearly posted on the company intranet!

It’s not you. It’s your intranet.

As an internal comms pro, you know the power of an intranet. However, if you’re honest with yourself, you probably already know yours is lacking. There is hope! Here are nine ways to make your intranet suck less.

But first, feedback…

Before making changes to your intranet, poll your company for feedback and look carefully at the survey results. What did that survey and other forms of employee feedback tell you? Some of the most common intranet pain points include:

You know your company best. Identify a few areas for improvement and get to work!

How to Improve Your Intranet

Before you start changing things, keep in mind those driving pain points and pick solutions that get at the root of those pains.

Make Your Intranet the Default Homepage

This is an easy fix. By making the intranet the default homepage, you’re ensuring that employees will see the page every time they open their web browser. Sure, some employees may choose to change these settings, but most aren’t going to change the default. This means you have a chance to capture the attention of employees at least once a day.

Make Your Intranet the Portal for Accessing Work Tools and Documents 

One way to ensure employees use the intranet is to make it a portal for accessing important work tools and documents. Every department likely has applications they use to do their day-to-day work. By placing the login pages for these tools on the intranet, you’ll get more visitors to the page. You can also drive traffic to the page by using it as a repository for important documents and forms related to expenses, time off, company policies, insurance, benefits, etc.

Make it Easier to Navigate and Use

With a strategy in place for getting your employees to your intranet more frequently, the next step is making sure that the site is easy to navigate and use. If the page is cluttered with boxes and menus that don’t make any sense, then people aren’t able to use it effectively. A clear menu with nestled options can make navigating the site easier. Using graphics to draw attention to important information is another way to capture the users’ attention. It should be quick and simple to use or else your survey results will continue to be dismal.

Post Regularly

One strategy for engaging users is to post regularly. Welcome to Content Management 101. Post on a schedule or risk losing your audience. The posts can cover a variety of topics but should always be relevant to your company and industry. It’s helpful if you have at least one executive (monthly or quarterly) post something too. You may need to ghostwrite this content for the busy executive but attaching her or his name to an update is a sure-fire way to make employees take notice. Over time, as employees realize the intranet is an important channel for communication from the top, they’re more likely to pay attention.

Highlight Employees

Another effective way to engage employees is to talk about them. Everyone wants to be a little famous, right? Even if it’s just the company-intranet-famous. The first step is encouraging employees to complete their profiles. You can pre-populate this with their existing employee ID photo and some information on their work history. As with any social media, employees will want to present their best selves. If you include their (hilariously awkward) first-day photo when they were hired as an intern, they’ll likely engage in the site to correct this image. A kinder and more sustainable strategy, however, is to use the page to highlight employees’ accomplishments. These recognitions can come from managers or from other users on the site.

Build an Active User Base

Even if your company prides itself on being unique and independent, all humans are social creatures who don’t want to risk being rejected. As it relates to the intranet, most employees will need to see others using the intranet first before they chime in. It’s a catch-22, sure. One way to build an active user base is to take an influencer approach. Solicit a few key employees from various departments in the firm and encourage them to post and comment regularly. When the masses see the cool kids contributing, they’ll be more likely to jump in.

Encourage Dialogue

Your intranet is a great place for cross-department dialogue. You can set up posts to allow commenting and even include a separate forum page that is organized by topics. This will require a little more on-going effort from you or your team. There should be clear guidelines around commenting – i.e. the usual company code of conduct of no harassment, etc. applies here too – and you’ll need to monitor comments to ensure compliance.

Make Your Intranet Mobile-Worker Friendly

In this age, with remote and mobile workforces growing, it’s important that all company services are available on mobile platforms or over secured VPNs through which off-site employees access tools and documents. The intranet must be just as easy to use for these workers, or else they will never use the site. Simple as that.

Make Your Intranet Consistent with Brand

Another simple fix is to make the intranet consistent with the company brand. If the intranet has a different look and feel than everything else the company does, it’s unlikely that users will be keen to engage with it. They may think it’s an external third-party vendor and not realize it is actually part of the company.

You know your employees better than anyone. Keep trying new strategies and efforts to see what clicks with your team. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to your intranet strategy.