Intranets were once static one-way channels for sharing company news. Modern intranets are interactive, dynamic, personalised and offer much more than just news. We explain how a modern and social intranet can boost employee satisfaction.
The modern intranet: social, interactive, effective
Some ten years ago, intranets seemed doomed. Now that intranets have become social, interactive and personal, and can be integrated with all kinds of other business applications, the intranet concept is alive and kicking again.
First of all: what do we mean by an intranet? In technical terms, it is a private network within an organisation that is used to give employees access to information and services from internal systems. Usually – as well as in this article – it refers to a platform such as Microsoft SharePoint with functionalities such as news, contact information, centralised access to documents, collaboration possibilities, calendars and planning systems.
Function and functionality of a modern intranet
The modern intranet, if properly designed and used, fulfils an important function within the organisation. It provides employees with access to all the files, tools and resources they need to work quickly and intelligently. It is, as it were, a gateway for cooperation, communication and information provision. It streamlines business processes and connects applications, business processes and employees, filling in the gaps between other systems and platforms.
- Important functionalities of a modern intranet include:
- Providing relevant and up-to-date information
- Tools to connect with others within the organisation
- Social functionalities such as posting, sharing and liking messages to increase engagement
- Search possibilities
- Integration with productivity tools such as Microsoft 365 and links to other business applications to access data
- Personalisation options
- A flexible design.
Intranet and employee satisfaction
Various surveys have shown that employees who are satisfied with the intranet also have a high level of employee satisfaction. This is, as we will explain later, because the intranet can facilitate and stimulate, among other things, job satisfaction, challenge, career development, learning and personal development.
Now you may think: why is employee satisfaction so important? Well, because employees who are satisfied are usually also very committed to the organisation. And that ensures that they are productive and committed, deliver higher quality work, call in sick less often and are more likely to recommend the company to others as a good employer. Moreover, with a high level of employee satisfaction, you have important assets in hand for retaining existing staff and attracting new talent.
With companies massively moving to hybrid working, ensuring employee engagement and satisfaction has become more challenging. To illustrate: 45 per cent of people working from home do not feel involved in the organisation. The benefits of a good intranet listed below illustrate how such a tool can significantly increase employee satisfaction and engagement.
How the intranet promotes satisfaction
The following eight reasons can make an intranet a source of increased employee satisfaction.
1. Communication and information exchange
A modern intranet provides you with one centralised system for communication and information. Employees can post messages themselves, learn new things, share knowledge and get to know both the organisation and their colleagues. As a result, they are better informed, feel more involved in the ins and outs of the organisation and contribute more to its success.
Clear communication also leads to faster decisions and less frustration, making it easier for employees to focus on their core activities. As a result, employees enjoy their work more and feel more satisfied.
2. Appreciation and recognition
Recognising and valuing employees is crucial for employee satisfaction. With an interactive and social web, you can ensure that employees feel welcome and acknowledged. For example, you can share success stories, put employees in the spotlight and explain what each department is currently working on.
3. Making work easier
Tools, communication, information: a modern intranet brings everything together. As a result, employees can work efficiently and without frustration, partly because they can find and share business-critical information quickly. This leads to greater job satisfaction and therefore higher employee satisfaction.
4. Social interaction
A good modern intranet is above all also a social intranet. The social component is essential for employee satisfaction: 60 percent of employees even consider colleagues to be the most important factor for satisfaction. The intranet can stimulate social interactions between employees and involvement, for example, through functionalities such as an activity calendar, microblogs and a photo gallery.
5. Stimulating learning and development
The intranet can be your hub for learning and development. Not only can you bring together all relevant information, you can also post training courses and announcements for courses and other development-related initiatives on it.
6. Strengthening the corporate culture
A good corporate culture is an important driver of employee satisfaction. Your intranet is a powerful tool for this, especially if part of the staff works remotely or a hybrid version. On the intranet, employees find social tools, they can easily collaborate and you can announce events, birthdays, news and policies. You can also use it to ask for feedback, register complaints, organise polls and questionnaires, based on which improvements can be implemented in the organisation.
In this way, the corporate culture is strengthened, involvement increases and the establishment of long-term collegial relationships are facilitated.
7. Management transparency
Transparency from the leadership of the organisation is an important factor for employee satisfaction: Employees like to be kept in the loop. On the intranet, managers can share blog posts in promoting their vision and explain what is going on, publish company figures, set out expectations of performance and explain the goals of individual departments.
8. Onboarding new employees
When it comes to onboarding new employees, the opportunities are endless: only 12 percent of employees feel that onboarding at their company was effective. An intranet with accurate and up-to-date information – to which new employees have access before they actually start working – ensures a soft landing.
On the intranet, you can bring together all the information that is relevant for new employees, for instance a company handbook, checklists, FAQs and news feeds. It is also possible to set up a special section for new employees. There, they can connect with peers, ask questions and find out who has expertise in certain areas in a safe environment.
This is how the intranet damages employee satisfaction
An out-of-the-box or poorly designed intranet can actually be counterproductive in terms of employee satisfaction for the following reasons.
1. One-way traffic
This is a common mistake: the intranet is only used for publishing news and other static information, possibly arising from the need to fully control the information flow. This usually results in employees not feeling heard, involved and valued, and – in the absence of interactivity – not having a trigger to visit the intranet.
2. Information is outdated or fragmented
Without proper attention, information on the intranet quickly becomes outdated or fragmented. For example, the information is no longer correct, several articles are devoted to the same subject or links no longer work. Result: a single source of truth is missing, work becomes more difficult and more tiring, and frustrations mount up.
3. Not user-friendly
The complaint is often heard: the intranet is particularly complicated or confusing. In some organisations, training is even required before employees can get to grips with it.
The lack of user-friendliness can have multiple reasons, for example, a poor visual user interface (UI), mediocre search results, content that is siloed, non-intuitive navigation and long loading times. As a result, employees get annoyed and don’t use the intranet at all.
4. Not focused on the organisation or user
An out-of-the-box solution may sound nice because it is cheap, but for an intranet that almost never works. The more the intranet is geared towards the organisation and the user, the better.
Organisations that opt for a customised solution also often go wrong: the search for the right platform and design should start with an inventory of the users’ needs, not the required functionalities.
5. Focus on head office or office workers
Often, the communications department is primarily responsible for the intranet, sometimes resulting in too much focus on the head office, while a significant part of the employees may work in branches.
What we also see a lot: the focus of the content is very much on office workers, whereas many people within the company actually work in factories, warehouses, with customers or anywhere else in the field. To entice these people to use the intranet, a 100 per cent mobile-proof platform is required.
Bring it all together in one adaptive workspace
The line between intranet and digital workspace is increasingly blurred. After all, both offer tools to do your work optimally, so it is logical to bring them together.
Workspace 365 unites everything you need: from intranet, communications and documents, to information, applications and more.
With different intranet elements, you can easily scale according to the needs of your organisation. Consider for instance a message centre, Yammer, RSS-feeds and the address book. It is also possible to integrate an entire existing intranet.
Is your social intranet integrated into your digital workspace? If so, this will stimulate interaction between employees and departments, everyone will work more efficiently and effectively, employee involvement will improve and – last but not least – employees will end their working day much happier.