Intranets are highly versatile channels that carry out various roles within an organisation. These include keeping employees informed through communications and messaging, as well as ensuring everyone can get things done more efficiently by finding the right information more quickly. A third key role is to support employee engagement, and the wider employee experience.
Employee engagement is a term that has perhaps some baggage; it used to produce a lot of debate about exactly what it is. Many teams now prefer to talk about employee experience, which is a more holistic term that takes in more aspects and touchpoints between employee and employer. Even if you regard employee engagement as a subset of employee experience, most intranets encompass content and features that are engaging, and often interactive. The advantage of this type of content is it not only supports employee engagement and the employee experience, but also helps with intranet adoption.
In this post we’re going to explore how to make your intranet more interactive and engaging. We cover how an intranet supports employee experience, some of the key approaches to ensure your intranet is an engaging place to visit, and finally some specific content ideas.
How does an intranet engage employees and support employee experience?
An intranet engages employees and supports the wider employee experience in a number of different ways.
Communications and campaigns
Intranets remain the principal digital communications channel for many organisations. Senior leaders and Internal comms functions use intranets to distribute messages and execute campaigns which help to engage and inform employees, highlighting awareness of the company’s purpose, success and people, as well as key initiatives in areas such as learning, wellbeing and DE&I.
Supporting community and connection
Intranets support a strong sense of community and connection by helping connect employees with each other through features such as the employee directory, but also through different communities, and social tools. Content can also highlight the contributions of different parts of the organisation. Intranets can also help foster a sense of pride with a company, through reporting on initiatives such as supporting volunteering and giving back to an external community.
Reflecting the culture
Modern intranets should be lively and dynamic channels that reflect but also nurture the positive elements of organisational culture and its people. Generally, there has been more focus on how to support culture using digital channels since the pandemic and the scaling up of remote work.
By establishing dialogue and listening
Intranets are two-way channels that provide excellent opportunities for dialogue, offering the chance for senior leaders to listen to employees. When employees are able to express themselves and provide feedback and input that influences decision-making, and they feel that their voice is being heard, it can have a significant impact on engagement.
By lightening everyone’s day
Sometimes intranets can include content and interactions that make a stressful day that little bit lighter. This might be a people success story, a fun item or even access to a community dedicated to a non-work area. You might even be able to find cat videos! Intranets don’t need to just be about completing tasks and reading news.
What are some of the essential approaches to creating an engaging intranet?
There are several approaches that are essential to create an engaging, modern intranet.
Personalization is a critical element of any modern Internet. It is particularly necessary for any complex and global organisation with a highly diverse workforce, spread across different locations, countries, divisions and roles. Personalisation ensures that content and experiences are more targeted and relevant to an individual user.
Interactivity is another key feature of an engaging intranet, ensuring users can contribute and interact with content and features, for example through commenting, discussions and other social tools. This not only elevates the experience for the user, but also increases the value of the intranet, for example allowing leadership to engage with a dialogue with employees. More interactivity usually ensures the intranet gets more adoption.
Another ingredient of an engaging intranet is having content that is well written and structured, and focuses on topics that are going to be of interest to employees. Long, dreary articles with dense text and no images are less likely to engage your employees; a well-written article with engagement in mind makes all the difference.
Having user-generated content from different sections of the workforce also ensures the intranet is not just viewed as a corporate top-down channel, but is regarded as a wider, more engaging channel that mirrors the diversity of the people in the organisation. Seeing contributions from users also encourages participation and adoption.
Good user experience
Any engaging intranet must have a good user experience to be engaging. Usability is very important and having a poor and outdated interface can drag content and features down, impacting engagement and adoption.
Surface engaging elements
Intranets have many roles to fulfil and include a lot of features and content. To make your intranet support employee engagement and an interesting place to visit, it pays to ensure the more engaging features are prominent and easy to find. Surfacing some of the more popular elements on your homepage is a tactic that many intranet teams follow.
Ten intranet content ideas to make your intranet more engaging
There are many different types of content that can really help lift your intranet. Here are ten popular content types that are often deployed on leading intranets. Some of these are dependent on particular features.
Creating a personalised greeting in the header of your intranet carries out the basic function of allowing a person to know that the intranet recognises who they are and they are logged in. However, it can also help create a less formal and corporate tone for the intranet too, even if it just says something as simple as “Hello Alex”. Some organisations have chosen to vary the greeting, for example depending on the time of day and even reflecting events and holidays.
One of the most valuable social tools are communities where groups of people come together to have discussions and share content around a common theme or purpose. Communities can be based around a professional community of practice, a common interest such as sustainability, a working group, an employee affinity group and even non-work-related hobbies and interests. Some organisations also have company-wide groups with a comms or engagement focus.
Embedding discussion threads from communities into your intranet experience is an excellent way to make your intranet more engaging and bring it to life with user-generated content and social updates. For SharePoint intranets, it is very easy to embed Viva Engage (formerly Yammer) threads as a web part into your homepage.
3.Polls and surveys
Snap polls and surveys are a great interactive feature to include on an intranet homepage to gain a snapshot of employee opinion or a pulse check on how they are feeling. They can be used for both light, engaging topics that are more fun, or more serious subjects. As with most online polls, employees should be able to view the results so far after they vote.
4.Blogs and vlogs
Blogging and video blogging (“vlogs”) remains one of the most popular formats for adding content that is more personal, authentic and engaging. It’s a good vehicle for more informal leadership communications but also for subject matter experts to support knowledge-sharing, as well as for people to share more personal, inspiring stories. Blogs and vlogs provide a good counterpoint to more formal, internal-comms focused content.
Asking employees to contribute photos is a good way to build up user-generated content that is also popular and reflects the diversity of the workforce. Some intranets have a photo of the day or photo of the week, while other teams have held photo competitions on a theme, or encouraged contributions which are used as brand assets on internal and external channels.
6.People-focused stories and items
Having news or content items that focus on people and what they have achieved or are doing can often have better numbers than drier news items. For example, there might be a news item about teams volunteering or a story about a person who has done something interesting outside work, such as appeared on a TV talent show. Some comms teams have content formats that also profile senior leaders, new starters or random people across the business, helping people get to know the person behind the job title.
7.Opportunities to contribute
An intranet is a channel for dialogue, so a good intranet should offer opportunities for employees to contribute their thoughts and ideas. This can come in various different forms including ideation platforms, invitations to feedback about strategic initiatives and more. The important element here is that employees feel they are being listened to, and leaders are able to leverage the valuable insights of the workforce.
8.Peer to peer recognition
Peer-to-peer recognition feature provide opportunities to offer praise, thankyous and shout-outs to their peers for great examples of work. This helps to create a sense of community, highlights company values and provides a feel-good feed that celebrates success. Sometimes recognition is categorised by company values or specific areas such as employee milestones or example of great customer service. Some intranets provide this recognition feed on the homepage and also offer opportunities for other employees to add comments to each item.
9.Benefits and offers
Intranets often feature HR information available on a self-service basis to relieve pressure on busy HR support desks. One area where HR teams are often keen to drive awareness is the benefits and offers that are available to staff. This is something that employees want to know about, so adding information about shopping and hotel discounts, or how to get your gym membership, can also work to support engagement.
Classified advertisements from employees with items for sale and related requests is another feature for intranet that supports healthy adoption.
11.Gamification and competitions
Competitions are also a popular way to drive engagement and make the intranet more attractive to visit. Some intranet teams choose to use a treasure hunt format when launching an intranet to encourage teams to explore the content. Contests can also involve initiatives involving gamification; for example, a fitness challenge with teams occurring points with a leadership board available to view on the intranet. All these are things which help support wellbeing, culture and adoption.
Making your intranet more engaging
There are many things that teams can do to ensure their intranet continues to support employee experience and is also well adopted. At the heart of this is taking a people-centric approach that ensures content is both engaging and interactive and mirros your organisational culture.
If you’d like to discuss how to make your intranet more engaging, then why not get in touch?