Low Intranet User Adoption: Address It Once and For All

You’ve built it, so why aren’t they coming?

When it comes to the intranet, just having one is not a guarantee that staff will actually use it. If you’re struggling with low user adoption of your intranet, then read on.

From what I’ve observed, there are only 3 main reasons why employees either don’t use the intranet at all, or don’t use it to its fullest.

Too hard

A complex intranet user interface is the number one killer of user adoption. Even with training, if the UI is not intuitive, simple, and easy to use, then your staff will simply avoid using the intranet. Related to this, your intranet’s navigation may not be the easiest to use, either.

Conduct some user tests to see how employees use the intranet, what the choke points are, and how you can improve the interface. Read this post to get several ideas for how you can assess the usability of your intranet, using traditional methods and one simple, inexpensive but insightful method.

Sometimes, staff have the perception that the intranet is “hard,” simply because they’re resistant to anything new. They might resist using the intranet instead of email, for example, only because they’re accustomed to the latter and refuse to learn how to do the former.

This resistance to learning something new is natural and to be expected. These same employees probably resisted email when it first came along, too. Address this situation by demonstrating the superiority of the intranet compared to the “old ways” of doing things. And make sure staff receive adequate training and support to use the features of your intranet.

Anything you do to reduce user frustration will pay off in the end.

Irrelevant content

Employees won’t use the intranet, if its content is not relevant, compelling, or necessary to their jobs. Integrate common business processes into your intranet. This includes finding the most recent policies and procedures documents and contacts databases. Transform paper forms into electronic forms employees fill out and route on the intranet. Post the latest company news and job vacancies ONLY on the intranet. If staff don’t check the intranet then they miss out.

It takes vigilance and diligence to keep your intranet content up-to-date and fresh. Read this post to learn more about ridding your intranet of obsolete content.

Unsupportive corporate culture

Today’s intranets with social features assume employees are allowed to communicate freely with each other and express themselves in your organization. If the corporate culture is one of fear and distrust, then no matter how user-friendly your intranet’s interface is, no matter how excellent the intranet content, employees will still not maximize the social and communication features of the intranet.

Does your top management use the intranet themselves? Do they encourage staff participation and self-expression? Are diverse opinions welcomed and respected?

If corporate culture is the reason for low intranet use, then you’ve got a big problem in your hands. You will not be able to change your organization’s culture single-handedly. See if having intranet authoring guidelines will help management relax a little. Otherwise, you’ll just have to wait until things change. Meantime, advocate for more communication, more sharing, and more self-expression in your workplace.

Read this if you want more ideas for encouraging intranet user adoption.

Which of these reasons prevent your staff from using the intranet more? What can you do to overcome them?


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