What is the best way to boost intranet adoption?
This a perennial question that intranet teams, digital workplace professionals and internal communicators keep on returning to. Good adoption is regarded as an essential prerequisite for intranet success. In order to get the full Return on Investment (ROI) on an intranet and to experience benefits such as increased efficiencies and effective internal communications, then having good adoption is key. There is not much point in having an intranet if nobody is accessing it or not enough people are using it in ways that drive value.
Unfortunately, good intranet adoption is not a given and intranet teams spend much of their effort on activities and approaches that support good adoption. To further complicate matters there are also no hard and fast rules, or “ingredient X”, that guarantees good adoption. In practice, a mixture of approaches and tactics are needed to successfully move the needle.
Over the years we have seen many clients successfully adopt strategies that have contributed to good intranet adoption. Here are ten ways to consider boosting intranet adoption.
1. Define what successful adoption means
Adoption is actually quite a loaded term and can mean different things to different people. For some teams, it can purely be about getting numbers of unique visitors, particularly when an intranet has just launched. For others it may be to do with the level of transactions that are being completed, or the number of contributions, or even the proportion of employees who have configured their homepage for personalisation. If collaboration or social tools are threaded into the intranet, you may have a different view of what successful adoption is. It may also be more important for different groups such as managers to particularly adopt the intranet.
The point is to try and define what successful adoption means to you; when you have an idea it means you can start to design the tactics, change management interventions and targeted approaches that will help you get there.
2. Use your communication channels for a campaign
It is obvious, but it is important to get the message out about an intranet and its value. One advantage that internal communications teams have is that they usually own the digital communication channels. From email to social networks to the intranet itself, it pays to design a traditional communication campaign to help drive intranet awareness, and therefore support adoption in the long term.
3. Use a champions network
A tactic that consistently works to drive intranet adoption is a champions network that leverages the enthusiasm and energy of an army of volunteer evangelists to promote the new intranet to drive peer-to-peer adoption. Not only do champions boost the power of small central intranet teams to spread awareness of the intranet across a large workforce, but champions also present the benefit of an intranet in terms of the value that is has for specific divisions, locations or teams. Champions talk about the everyday value for specific roles and activities. This frame of reference gives the case messages about intranet use more value; hearing a recommendation from a peer can also sometimes have more impact than central communications.
4. CEO and senior leader involvement
A great way to drive adoption is to have a highly visible and engaged CEO (or similar senior leader) who is actively promoting the intranet and uses it regularly to communicate and interact on social channels, as well as explicitly telling people to use the intranet. Not only does this spread awareness and position the intranet as something that employees should be using, but it also encourages other managers to follow suit and behave similarly. This can have a “trickle down” effect and drive adoption across other layers of management. Using the intranet for essential leadership communications such as broadcasting town halls is also an effective tactic.
5. Have an attractive and intuitive design
When your intranet has a beautiful design and is easy to use, it is much easier to drive adoption. A modern, attractive, and contemporary design that is intuitive, easy to access and removes significant barriers to adoption is what you need to achieve. It is much harder to get employees to use a platform that is confusing, cluttered or looks dated; many teams find themselves surprised at the difference an attractive interface can make to adoption.
6. Focus on use cases that have value
One of the secrets of good intranet adoption is making sure that the intranet helps employees get things done and supports them in their working day. Internal communications and news are important, but they are hardly ever the main reasons employees visit and use an intranet. Therefore, it is key to focus on use cases such as completing tasks, HR self-service, finding essential information and Learning & Development that mean employees will keep coming back to the intranet.
7. Use personalisation to make the intranet relevant
A well-adopted intranet must make sense to a diverse workforce who want to see useful and relevant content and experiences. This can be challenging when you have a workforce that is diverse in terms of roles, locations, primary languages, needs and cultures. Using personalisation and content targeting is an important tactic in driving relevancy; when an individual can see content targeted to their individual needs and preferences based on their profile, then this can help drive more sustainable healthy adoption levels.
8. Make the intranet the front door to your digital workplace
An important role of modern intranets is to be the front door to the wider digital workplace, either through to links to other applications but also specific integrations. For example, when you are using a Microsoft 365 or SharePoint Online intranet you can easily provide a gateway to other tools like Microsoft Teams and Yammer. Having a single, digital front door is very useful for your employees and makes an intranet essential. This really helps drive adoption in the long term and is also why an intranet should always play a significant role in your wider digital workplace plans.
9. Ensure good content and findability
A strong intranet is always based on strong content and the ability for employees to find what they need. To keep on getting employees to return to use the intranet they must have content that they trust and is easily discoverable when they have a particular need. We could write an entire book on the approaches you need to put in place to ensure good content and findabilty, but they include content governance with standards and publisher training, automated author reviews, possible tagging and user testing any information architecture. Whatever you do on your intranet, make sure good content and findability are achieved as these are must-do items on the intranet agenda.
10. Use measurement and feedback to continuously improve
Continuous improvement is a great foundation for a successful intranet. By keeping on making improvements to capabilities, content, findability and the user experience, you can drive adoption; employees are more inclined to use a platform that keeps on getting better and better. Continuous improvement is not always easy to implement; but starting small and then getting into a process of improvement is the way to start. Using measurement to find what works and what doesn’t is at the heart of continuous improvement, as well as using valuable user feedback to see the real-world use and impact of the intranet. Defining what “good adoption” means makes continuous improvement easier as you can target your efforts.
Keep on working on adoption
We have only just touched upon some of the tactics that intranet teams can use to help drive adoption. We did not even talk about the importance of driving a good mobile solution, having naming contents, ensuring the intranet can be used for non-working communities and more.
At the end of the day intranets need to deliver value to employees, and that is the main prerequisite for successful adoption. Teams also need to work to spread awareness about the intranet and why people should use it. Many of the above approaches we have mentioned cover either one of these approaches. Another important principle is to keep on working on adoption – there is always more you can do; an intranet’s team’s work is never quite finished. If you’d like to discuss how to improve the adoption of your intranet, then get in touch.