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How to get your Staff to use the Intranet?

A common question we hear is “How can I get more of my employees to use the Intranet?” Here are a few tips to help with this issue.

Use Social Tools to encourage Employee Involvement

When managers hear the words Social Intranet they start to smirk. Visions of employees chatting away about Saturday night and posting pictures of their cat come to mind.  Of course this isn’t what Social Intranet means.

The term Social Intranet, in our opinion, is really just an Intranet that is taking advantage of popular social consumer applications and readapting them for a corporate environment.  This creates a familiar function that the staff can understand, since most use them in their own person life. Social Intranets encourage interaction and engagement by creating an environment where people feel they are a member of the site, not just a user.

Make an Exceptional User Navigation

In most cases the user interface is the last thing companies think about when deploying an Intranet. However, it should really be the first thing to consider. If you want your staff to spend part of their work day within the Intranet, the user interface has to be intuitive, and easy to use.  Also keep in mind that attractive design and intuitive navigation are two very different things.

Create New Content Daily

Many Intranets contain information that is outdated by the time it’s posted. Think of your Intranet as a daily newspaper for your company.  Make sure that the news is up to date.  Your staff will disregard the Intranet if you don’t keep the information current.

Find out What they Want to Know

Not only does the content have to be timely, it also has to be relevant. Cover the topics that people are interested in.  How can you figure out what people are interested in? Ask them! Many intranets have survey and polling capabilities built in. Use these features to find out what people want to know or what users feel the Intranet is lacking.

Power to the People

The company’s web master can’t possibly create and post all the data that should be on the Intranet. In many cases, this is the main reason why Intranets fail.  By the time the webmaster posts content to the Intranet, the information is out dated.  To resolve this issue the content creation must be decentralized so that people throughout the organization with information that would make interesting and valuable reading, can post it themselves. Of course, each department will need to set permissions and establish procedures for posting content.

Build a Social Network

A major worry for companies is that too much fun means not enough work.  However, the most successful Intranet deployments are the ones with the most employee interaction.  People need to feel connected with their colleagues.

Companies should create a place for each department’s social network. Here employees could post birthdays, recognize service awards, introduce new hires, and even have monthly photo contests. This will create an Intranet that is alive rather than static.

Be Transparent

If you want employees to use the Intranet, truthful information is important.  No one will come back to a site that is a whitewash, except maybe to ridicule it. Be direct and forthright in your communication, and people will respect and appreciate it. That may mean posting the bad news as well as the good.

Post Important Information only to the Intranet

Frequently, a company will create an informative white paper or report and post it to the Intranet. The problem is that it may have also been sent via email to the entire company, removing any motivation to visit the Intranet. You can change this dynamic by developing a new habit.  Post the document only to the intranet site and then notify people that it’s there. This will encourage employees to visit the Intranet site more regularly and alleviate the burden of excess email attachments.

Notify Users about New Content

Set up an automatic email notification system to let your staff know when new content is published.  Even better, allow the staff to choose what they care to be notified about, and when they wish to be notified.

Create an effective system for showing “What’s New”

It’s important to have an effective “What’s New” page that lists all the new information that has been posted to the site in the last 24 hours. It will become a great time saver for your staff and provides a better user experience.

Monthly information searching contests

Our company and many of our clients hold a “Monthly Information Search Contest”.   A piece of information is hidden somewhere inside the Intranet.  It could be a graphic, a chart, a word file or anything else that can be stored on the Intranet.

The first person to locate the information is awarded a prize. What usually happens as a result is that while searching for the target, staff members get caught up in reading other information, become more familiar with how to use the Intranet, and discover useful information that they will go back to later.  This is just one example of how companies can encourage employees to interact with their Intranet.