Nowadays, choosing the right platform for your organization can be extremely challenging. There are so many different options out there, and it’s tiresome trying to figure out if the features align with your employee’s needs.
After reading testimonials, product feature pages, and case studies, you’re left scratching your head trying to figure out if an intranet that worked well for X company would be just as good for yours.
So, what makes a good intranet? Is it the features, the time it takes to launch, or the participation rates? In my opinion, it’s the results—everyone at your organization feeling successful at work. An intranet with all the bells and whistles is great, but if those features aren’t delivering positive results for your organization (and the people using it), the intranet probably isn’t much of a solution. So, in this article, we’ll look at what makes a good intranet and if they’re the type of platform you should be using.
Before we even get started, you need to think about why your company is seeking out an intranet. If, for instance, you want to get your people more engaged, intranets often pose as a space for them to congregate and collaborate. But here's the catch: don't fall for the employee engagement trap. Simply trying to engage people and pushing them to contribute doesn’t do them any favors, especially if what you’re doing diverts them from doing their jobs rather than helping them. Often, social intranets that “engage employees” are often comparable to social media—the content blasts and spammy notifications just lead to constant distractions.
Instead of hurting your people’s focus and productivity, a good platform has all the ingredients to help employees succeed. Yes, people want to be engaged, and you should do your best to connect them. But have you also considered enablement and celebration as core strategic needs as well? A successful platform is one where everyone connects, communicates, and celebrates together. That’s really what it boils down to.
For something so critical to organizational success, you want to look for a powerful platform. One that gives employees a sense of belonging and enables them to find what they need and communicate easily without obstacles. One where they can be seen and recognized for their contributions to a thriving team.
To properly understand what makes any central employee platform “good,” let’s break down a few of the key outcomes you should consider.
Say you want to move conversation threads away from outdated and cluttered forms of communication, like email. Any internal communication tool should provide multiple ways in which your people can connect with each other. Modern intranets may claim to be the go-to tool for org-wide communication, but most only support top-down announcements. An ideal platform should open lines of communication that previously were blocked, disconnected, or absent. For example, in some companies, bottom-up communication is limited. A good employee solution creates an equal playing field where all team members are given a voice, no matter their job title.
To achieve organizational success, you first need to bridge the divide between teams by centralizing discussions and workflow. If not, a damaging silo mentality can form. Ironically, since intranets are just webpage building tools, that means each department ends up with its own subsite within it. These sites become information silos, where nothing is shared, and people are kept in the dark, left to figure out on their own what the latest news is on a particular project. This is where distrust starts to form. A good platform will make it easy for peer-to-peer, departmental, and organization-wide communication and collaboration to flourish.
Employee enablement is a relatively new concept. But it’s all about removing people’s blockers and allowing them to contribute without frustrations. Look for a good intranet (or an alternative) that can elevate access to tools, information, and the people employees need to do their job well. It’s that simple. Some examples of what good platforms provide to help enable employees include:
Besides keeping employees informed, an effective employee hub should also support celebration and appreciation. This is particularly important for hybrid or dispersed organizations, as a digital workplace is one of the only channels to recognize your people working remotely. Most intranet software lack features to socialize accomplishments across the company. Choose a solution that supports public Shout-Outs, where everyone in the company can chime in with social features such as like, comment, and share. Even better, recognition that ties in with company culture values can help demonstrate the encouraged behavior of employees. All these shared highlights and celebrations contribute to a culture of success across the company.
Your company’s intranet homepage shouldn’t be messy and confusing. Even though intranets have come a long way, most still deliver poor user experiences. Excessive amounts of widgets, notifications, and page structures all contribute to employee frustrations (which also threaten user adoption). And when they break, chances are you’ll have to invest a massive number of resources—time, people, and money—to solve your problem. Make sure the solution you’re choosing doesn’t clutter information so people can easily find who and what they need.
You're likely looking for an intranet solution to be the centralized hub for your organization. A place where employees can go for help and answers. This ideally should save time and energy but take caution that your intentions don’t backfire. Although many intranets operate as document repositories with pages, the reality is that they don’t make file searching easier or information more accessible. If the place where important documents and data live is a confusing maze, your employees will spend more time digging for the correct file. An intuitive library should be where any employee can learn about policies, procedures, and what’s happening at your company. A strong cloud-based solution makes it easy to consolidate your company documents in a single place and can easily sync with your existing tech stack like Google Drive and OneDrive.
A strong communication and collaboration platform helps develop, strengthen, and amplify your company’s unique culture. A centralized gathering place should be a game changer for improving onboarding, creating connections, and elevating employee experience. Through integrating leaders, employee groups, and culture champions, a successful platform should be a space where your values are firmly rooted and amplified.
Hopefully, by this point, you have a better idea of what makes a good intranet and what pitfalls to avoid. One thing’s for sure—look for a platform or a set of features that will help all employees be successful at work. Intellective, an Elite ServiceNow Partner that specializes in employee experience, has a tool called Wonder that allows you to build an intranet that makes it easy to implement the seven qualities listed above.