How to use your company intranet to keep your team connected
In this time of physical distancing, the internet is alive with tips and tricks for remote work and virtual life. Focusing on how to work better, smarter, faster, etc., is not the new normal -- it has just gone digital.
Although there are many perks of working from home, there are also some losses that people often fail to consider. Socializing at work is an often overlooked part of employee satisfaction and communication. Say goodbye to watercooler chats, pre-meeting banter, and comparing who has the best food during the lunch hour. But how can you keep everyone connected when we’re all relegated to our homes?
Now is the perfect time to dust off that underutilized company intranet and recreate those social spaces -- online. For those who aren’t familiar, an intranet solution is a website that is built completely for an internal audience, controlled by an organization. Intranet solutions are often helpful to increase interaction between staff of an organization.
Tips on how to increase engagement
Teach Staff How To Use It
If you’ve recently launched a new intranet, and/or you’re having a hard time getting your team to participate in the experience, it could be a simple matter of educating them on how to do so. Articulate how your members should be using the intranet. This might include creating step-by-step instructions to teach staff how to contribute content of their own. These instructions need to be fully searchable and grouped by a tag that allows users to see all the How To items available.
We also suggest adding an FAQ section. You can also create challenges that involve posting in a forum, poll, or group topic area to encourage quick adoption of the intranet across the organization.
Lead By Example
You're not going to get what you're looking for if you don't practice what you preach. It could be useful to dedicate a specific place for messages from your organization’s leaders and make sure they actively participate in your company's intranet. In our case, not only does our core leadership team commit to posting content, but we have a dedicated page called “Andrew’s Thoughts” which populates a listing of posts by our president. These posts are also enabled with notifications that let all our team members know when a new post appears.
Use Sliders And Images
Admittedly, as a general rule, we don’t typically advocate for sliders. However, there’s a case to be made for sliders on intranet solutions where a visual display of the most important updates (as long as they are few and accessible) can help employees digest information more quickly.
Say "Thank You" or "Congratulations"
It’s important to think of your intranet as a virtual office. Rather than saying thank you in a meeting, say it online! Instead of quietly congratulating your colleague on their recent certification or promotion, make it public on your intranet so your whole team can be aware of their new accomplishment. Not only is this a nice thing to do, it helps keep your team aware of others’ new qualifications and can encourage others to keep learning too.
Offer Training Courses Online
If your intranet has an integrated learning management system (LMS), create courses that help new team members get oriented with your organization and/or provide new training opportunities for other team members.
It is probably as simple as creating a ‘course’ using content from your written company policies and procedures manual. Move to online onboarding of new team members based on their role, along with a host of other courses that help a team level-up their skills. You could even offer rewards to employees who complete a certain number of courses.
For many organizations, the intranet is a social hub -- the virtual break room. It’s only fitting that your intranet includes spaces where its members can interact on a more personal basis. Our intranet has a Social page dedicated to this very activity. This page hosts team event postings, discussion forums, a monthly birthday listing, a wellness breaks calendar, and a section for employee recognition. To make interactions even easier, quick link buttons help employees post different types of content.
Ideas I can think of off the top of my head:
- Recognize birthdays or hiring anniversaries.
- Photo contests: Pets, baby pictures, hobbies -- it could be (almost) anything. Social media themes like #ThrowbackThursday or #PhotoFriday can work great for intranets too.
- Question of the week. This could be social or work-related, anything from “What brings you joy?” to “What tools do you use to stay organized at work?”. For extra participation, have employees send in questions to choose from.
- Industry article of the week. If you want to be social but keep things more focused on work, have employees submit their favourite work-related articles and collect them in a forum or page on the intranet. Use this to offer some quick knowledge sharing for your team to help keep everyone in the organization at the forefront of your industry.
- Weekly employee spotlight. A weekly "Hey...haaaave you met Ted?" section where we have an employee of the week chat about themselves - their likes, dislikes, a little about them - something that we don't already know!
- Post clips or recordings of Zoom company social hours or photo galleries.
Collaborative Space to Share Ideas
If this week brought some good news, it is that it’s looking like public health measures are helping slow the spread of COVID-19 and governments are developing plans to gradually reopen more services and businesses once it’s safe to do so.
I do believe though, that the strength of a good company intranet will live on in its usefulness. Something once lost in an email chain between one team or a couple of employees can be shared with everyone. New projects/ideas/ways to work better and smarter can be encouraged when colleagues share what they're currently working on. The list is endless.
There are many ways to improve employee engagement with your intranet. Put in the effort, and watch your business grow.
Read More In Our Intranet Blog Series