Intranet (n): clunky internal website designed your company set up in 2004. Infrequently updated and seldom checked by the wider workforce.
Sound familiar? If so, your company is missing a trick.
The time has come to stop ignoring your intranet and turn it into your HR team’s secret weapon.
A well-designed and well-maintained company intranet helps create a happy, engaged workforce. If part of your workforce is mobile or works remotely, an intranet is also essential for getting key info across without leaving anyone out. It’s the key to successful communication in an organisation.
What’s more, you can save your HR team a boatload of admin by using your intranet to offer HR self service to employees, so they can get on with the activities that require a truly human touch.
Ready to revolutionize your internal comms? Here are 15 uses for intranet that can help:
Still relying on a noticeboard to get key messages across to your staff?
If so, you’ll no doubt be frustrated about how hit-and-miss this tactic can be. Particularly in workforces that aren’t tied to a desk all day, you’re relying on a trickle-down approach - Brian from housekeeping sees the announcement that there is a company meeting scheduled for Friday, and spreads the word.
There’s no guarantee of the message spreading, however, and this approach is annoying for employees that can’t check the noticeboard easily (drivers out on deliveries, for example) - no-one likes finding out that they have an event to attend with no prior warning. Other missed announcements might have more serious consequences.
One of the most common uses of intranet is to serve as an internal communications software, so it’s even better if that intranet is mobile accessible with push notifications so that remote and non-desk workers are always in the loop.
“But that’s what we have email for.”
...and that may be fine, if your workforce is entirely office-based.
Obviously, you do have the option to try and persuade your employees to receive work emails on their personal phones, or to provide everyone with a company phone instead—but the latter is expensive and the former will be an uphill struggle that makes your employees resent you.
There are lots of advantages to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy if you implement it correctly. Part of this is having an easily-accessible database of company contacts so that employees can resolve queries quickly on the job.
Look for an intranet with inbuilt instant messaging and chat to speed this up further and improve teamwork in the workplace.
Quite a general one here, but very useful nonetheless.
Think of how useful social media sites are for small communities. Local Facebook groups, for example, help people fundraise for charity events, find lost property and raise any issues they’ve noticed around the area.
Think of each of your business sites as one of these small communities. HQ might be running a charity bake sale that it wants to advertise. Someone might have found a wallet in the cafeteria at one of the other sites and wants to find the rightful owner.
Providing a company message board on your intranet, or better, opting for an intranet designed to look like a consumer social media feed provides an easy, peer-to-peer way of dealing with these issues. Instead of simply handing that wallet in and hoping for the best, the finder could post:
“Wallet found on cafeteria floor with small amount of cash, handed into kitchen staff. To claim it as yours, let them know what color it is and what’s on the photo inside.”
Your intranet should be a one-stop-shop for all key housekeeping services your employees need.
This includes easy reporting procedures for when things go wrong. Whether that’s requesting replacement equipment from IT, filing fault reports for vehicles and machinery or reporting a workplace accident, your intranet should allow your employees to do it remotely and securely, as soon as it needs to be done.
It’s not the most glamorous uses of intranet out there, but having these processes immediately accessible to all your staff helps everyone stick to protocol—if your team can file reports remotely there’s more chance they can do so immediately, rather than waiting until they’re next in the office or forgetting it altogether.
A simple point, but such a time saver for employees.
Use your intranet to provide cloud storage for all key company docs. Uniform order forms, manuals for key bits of tech, key risk assessment documents...if your employees need it, put it on there and save them tedious hours of paper chasing!
Make it super easy for your employees to figure out when they’re working by putting all shift rotas up on the intranet. If you invest in a mobile solution (again, we can’t emphasize this enough for a modern workplace), you could even set push notifications up to let teams know when next month’s rota is available.
Those staffing issues due to someone not catching an updated rota in time? All gone.
Make it easier still by letting your employees file shift swap requests online—either directly to their manager or by pinging the rest of the team a ‘would anyone like to swap shifts with Susan?” message via chat.
Another fairly run-of-the-mill use for the company intranet, but an important one. Making the time off request process simple and accessible will do wonders for employee perception of HR, so why not integrate your HR system with your intranet, or better, set up intranet with this functionality as native, available from within the intranet dashboard?
It’s also easier for management to have one single stream of time off requests, so that they can plan work accordingly and hire temps if needed. Seems like a simple enough idea, but you’d be surprised at the number of companies with different processes for different teams (and very unsurprised at the chaos this can create).
Would your workforce benefit from e-payslips that they can access 24/7?
If you have a large mobile workforce, you bet they would. It’s so much more convenient than having to collect a paper version from HQ or wait for it to be sent in the post, particularly if it’s needed urgently for various bits of life admin.
Setting your intranet up as your employees’ go-to place for checking payslips is a good idea—whether you choose a solution you can integrate with your timesheet software or native functionality.
This lets your employees login, check their past payslips (which are all on file) and print them as and when they need. It’s fast, convenient and will save a few trees in the long run (not to mention the printing cost and the time needed to mail the paper payslips out).
Use your intranet to speed up recruitment and keep things transparent, for both internal and external hires.
If you advertise vacancies internally, having a virtual jobs board on your intranet site is an easy way to make sure that everyone can find out about new opportunities from one central location, rather than relying on email or word of mouth.
As the HR team, it’s on you to make sure that your colleagues complete all their mandatory training.
Whilst at times it might feel all your “please complete your GDPR training” emails are being fed into a vast and unfeeling void, there are steps you can take before standing behind the main offenders watching them complete it, armed with some of the more threatening pieces of office stationery.
First of all, how easy to find are your e-learning modules? Make sure they are stored in one central place within the intranet.
Secondly, having read and acknowledge receipts on select messages is one of these steps and a great use of intranet. If you simply email e-learning courses over, it’s far too easy for them to get lost in busy inboxes—or to not be seen at all by non-office staff who don’t have time to check their work inbox (or maybe don’t even have one).
The relationship between employee recognition and workplace performance is well-documented. 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts will be appreciated and 41% of companies that use peer-to-peer recognition have observed an increase in customer satisfaction as a correlation.
So chances are, your organisation has some form of employee recognition scheme—whether that’s an awards program, performance-related bonuses or something different.
All too often, however, employees don’t know how to nominate their colleagues for these awards, and aren’t aware who’s won and why. It’s easy to miss posters, email announcements and the like when you’re busy, particularly if you’re not office-based.
Run your nominations through your intranet to make this easier, and when you’ve decided who you’re going to recognize, give a summary of their job, how they’ve gone above and beyond and (crucially) what they’ve won. Keep it pinned at the top of your news section, so that:
- Your superstars get the recognition they deserve from their colleagues.
- Everyone else sees that good work gets rewarded - and that there are material prizes to go with this recognition.
As an extra, encourage employees to use the peer-to-peer social network we’ve discussed above to call out everyday good work and acts of kindness. This helps to create a culture where people feel appreciated for what they do 🙌
It’s good to have all the key dates in one, easily-accessible place. Parties, charity bake sales, activity and awareness weeks, family fun days...whatever your HR team are putting on, make sure it’s captured on the intranet so people can find babysitters, reschedule calls with suppliers, or make sure they have enough flour to bake those brownies everyone loves.
If your workplace is large enough, you might have clubs that meet on a weekly basis too. Providing specific channels for this conversation helps people keep on top of when these happen so they can join in.
On top of this, why not send out push notifications so no-one forgets on the day? It’s an easy way to make sure no-one misses out!
In case you haven’t heard, the annual feedback questionnaire is dead.
There are many reasons for this:
- Giving employees one chance per year to air their grievances results in employee satisfaction taking a nosedive.
- They’re a huge effort for your HR team to run.
- You can’t possibly respond satisfactorily to a whole year’s worth of complaints from everyone in the business at the same time.
What’s clear is that smaller, more targeted ‘pulse’ surveys are becoming the norm, and that employee intranets are a great way to get them out to people and encourage responses.
There are a variety of ways to do this, so have a think about the ways your workforce would respond best to—even if that’s just a quick, single-question pop up:
How satisfied are you with the amount of parking offered at HQ?
Rather than emailing everyone a clunky form, look for an intranet solution that you can integrate with survey software like Typeform or Survey Monkey.
As HR, improving your colleagues’ work environment should underpin everything that you do, so don’t limit feedback opportunities to survey responses.
If you use your intranet to encourage 24/7 feedback, you might just be surprised about how much of a positive impact it makes. Survey responses (as you’ll well know) skew negative, but offering unrestricted, everyday feedback options removes the temptation to get all your complaints in whilst you can.
The result? A more laid-back, as-and-when attitude to workplace feedback that focuses on innovation.
It also helps create a sense of pride in your joint space—your workplace could become better organised, livelier and more environmentally friendly due to the suggestions people make. Everybody wins.
Generally, employees like to be reimbursed for expenses within a reasonable time frame. Nothing creates a sense of bitterness quite like shelling out money for key company activities and waiting months to be reimbursed.
Make the reimbursement process easy for everyone (including your team, who have to deal with these requests) by integrating with easy-to-use expenses system on your intranet. If you’re going mobile-friendly, it’s particularly helpful to let employees upload smartphone photos of their receipts—much quicker and easier than making people find a scanner!
Whilst we’re on the topic of money, other popular uses of intranet include as a hub for funding and grant applications. If your workplace offers grants towards skills development or to offset some of the cost of social activities, it can work wonders for employee engagement—so make a big deal of it by including a straightforward application process on your intranet site.