Companies routinely spend thousands of dollars setting up custom employee intranets because of the widespread assumption that setting up an employee intranet is a long, tedious process best handled by tech experts.
Why? Because too many employee intranet systems are overly complicated and require set up and support.
Now, more companies opt out of older model intranets and choose employee apps (see the employee portal app) that function like mobile intranets. These apps can do as much as your old employee intranet, are easier to launch, more user-friendly and customizable.
In this post, we show you how to use intranet services with Blink and dive into steps you can take to make adopting a new employee intranet like Blink, smoother and less stressful for everyone at your workplace, whether they are office workers or frontline workers.
What is an employee intranet?
First things first! An employee intranet is a private network your company uses for internal communications. Typically, access is restricted to current employees. The system is a centralized hub where your workers can access Human Resources, document files, collaborate on current projects, log time sheets, check invoices and automate specific business processes.
Ideally, an intranet should enhance internal communication and make it easier for employees to accomplish work.
As mentioned above, large enterprise-level companies have traditionally built their own branded intranets while smaller firms tend to rely on cloud-based intranet software that requires minimal or even no coding whatsoever to implement.
However, this trend is changing with many enterprise organizations taking advantage of the many benefits that buying and then customizing a modern employee app can deliver. These include cost savings and other efficiencies and while internally built apps tend to be static, one-off projects, here at Blink we ensure our product is always evolving and meets the latest data safety requirements.
How company intranets are changing
Old school intranets got the job done when it came to centralizing information but did not inspire employees to start their days by logging on.
Today, there are employee app-style intranets that are changing the way in-office and frontline employees use intranet systems.
These platforms can reach employees in the field because they are designed for mobile settings. They do a lot thanks to robust integration and automation. These features are personalized for users to keep them engaged. Another plus is they are much easier to launch than older employee intranet systems.
The keys to setting up an employee intranet
Let’s look at how to set up a company intranet, step by step, from choosing a system to rolling it out.
1. Decide what functionality you need
What are the internal communications strategy goals you would most like to solve? Maybe your goal is to create functional collaboration spaces for employees who do not get a lot of facetime. Or you need a way to keep frontline workers engaged and in the loop throughout the day. The question is: how robust does your employee intranet need to be?
As for those must-haves you may be forgetting about, they are customizability, ease of integration, a centralized info hub, and communications and collaboration tools. Blink is an information repository like SharePoint, a messaging tool like Slack, a place to store and sort data like G Suite, and an HR kit, but it also does a lot more than each of those tools can do individually. It’s a communications system, but that is not all it is.
2. Figure out what functionality you want
Now is the time to look beyond what you need to do so you can figure out what kind of extras or special features would be nice to have. For instance, when your employee intranet looks like a social media platform, workers may be more likely to use it. When it can be integrated with the other apps you already use, you will be able to automate business processes. Before you even start looking at your intranet options, make a list of your wants.
3. Consult with your workforce
Your employees are the ones who will be using whatever system you choose, so why not involve them in the process? Ask them what features and tools they would most like to see in your company intranet. Their answers may surprise you!
In addition to traditional intranet tools, Blink has workforce-friendly engagement features that you can use to motivate your employees, help them grow in their roles, show your appreciation and make communication a two-way street. Blink allows for custom micro-apps that help you resolve employee pain points and digitalize processes that were previously paper-based.
4. Choose the best intranet software
There are several options out there with different features, from custom-built options to cloud-based solutions. There are department and industry-specific plug and play intranet systems. For example, Blink was specifically created for companies with frontline workforces who often don’t even have a company email. That means that our platform is mobile first rather than static and desktop-based. We are perfectly suited, for example, for companies in the transport, logistics, healthcare and retail sectors as well as many more. Some platforms are minimalist, and others on par with your favourite entertainment websites.
Do not rush this step! Give yourself time to check out your options and assess each based-on user-friendliness, functionality, security, cost and support.
5. Develop a usage policy
It is a good idea to keep as many important documents in your employee intranet as possible because software switching wastes time and having to chase down information is frustrating. Make sure you have a clear policy outlining what types of information can be shared in your company intranet. A review of old communication challenges will help you determine what absolutely needs to be in your employee intranet app moving forward and what should be stored elsewhere.
6. Decide who has ownership of what
Do you have an intranet manager? If not, look at who oversees your internal communication strategy. This person should oversee content sharing and restrictions in your employee intranet app.
When using a platform like Blink, you can give local managers and team leaders some degree of ownership over certain content. HR handles scheduling and benefits. Everyone has a chance to collaborate right in the app.
It is important to know who is responsible for publishing and maintaining the areas of your intranet, so content is up to date.
7. Create a launch pad
Have you decided how you are going to launch your new intranet? If you had a previous system in place, take baseline metrics and set new adoption and engagement targets. Make sure that on-site managers are on board and that they will champion the use of the new modern intranet system for their workforce. Consider traveling to regional centres and holding a training session for line managers.
8. Roll out your employee intranet
You do not need your system to be fully fleshed out to launch it. To start, it is important your basic functions are up and running. Upload the published content into the system and let your employees start poking around.
9. Add access controls as needed
Some areas of your employee intranet need to be restricted so confidential or sensitive information is only searchable and viewable by the people who need to see it. As soon as you identify areas that should be locked down, lock them down.
10. Show employees how to make the most of your intranet
Make sure your workforce knows how much your intranet can do and how to use it. In Blink’s feed, employees can request leave, receive and acknowledge high-priority alerts, check the office calendar, see updated project outlines, celebrate a sales win, give you feedback on a business update, and find everything they need to get the job done in a single location — and that is only what the app can do right out of the box.
11. Customize your intranet
Most company intranet systems allow some degree of customization.
In some cases, you may need to hire a developer to handle them, while other platforms give managers drag and drop controls.
Blink allows for a higher degree of customization than other systems because you can also build your own micro-apps right into the system.
For instance, you can create micro-apps that do things like access and use payment card systems, report unplanned absences via a bot, streamline project reporting, automate timesheet management, or update a database. Building mobile apps in Blink is ten times faster and easier than building native applications and you can convert existing internal web apps into mobile apps.
You can also create custom Zapier zaps that automate workflows, from sharing emails and tweets with your team, posting and promoting calendar events, getting new Expensify reports, updating the appropriate teams with information about new or ongoing PagerDuty incidents, accessing Xero Accountant bookkeeping information, or putting training materials into the hands of new recruits.
12. Talk up the benefits of your intranet
Your employees are asked to learn to use a new software system, so make sure they understand they are the ones who will benefit from it and how to use it. Once you have done that, model the behaviour you would like to see in your workforce. Check into your employee intranet several times a day to answer questions, acknowledge feedback and praise employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. Remember, if you are not using it, your employees are not going to use it and employee engagement begins with communication.
Once your employee intranet is up and running, be sure you are tracking usage and responding to feedback. Chances are that if one employee is having trouble adapting to or using the system, there are other people in your organization who are having the same difficulties but have not spoken up. If people are not logging in daily, find out why and fix the problem. If workers are not using your company intranet for some tasks, make sure they know the functionality is there or design a micro-app that makes those tasks easier.
These tweaks can take some time — and may become an ongoing part of your internal communication strategies — but eventually you will have a system in place that keeps employees more engaged and more productive as a result.
Are you ready to try a new kind of employee intranet at your company? Request a Demo