Internal Communications and an Intranet: A Love Story

· by Brady Hammond

Brady Hammond is a certified Predictive Index Practitioner and CliftonStrengths Coach. She specializes in leading teams through assessments, team building, and leadership training.
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Internal Communications. It’s a big term. The scope of everything it covers can be both overwhelming and exciting. It’s an area within corporations that is being expanded upon more and more as its importance is being realized. So how does one begin to conquer such a term? Here at HTI, we began with a company intranet.

An intranet is a great first step in improving internal communications because it can accomplish so many different things. It can be a place for company news and announcements, it can be a directory for easy access to contact information, it can be a hub of corporate statistics and history, and it can be a place for employees to communicate instantly with one another when otherwise they couldn’t. There are so many ways an intranet can drive internal communication in the direction you want it to go.

So, I’ve talked you into having an intranet for your company. What now?

There are many components that go into making an intranet successful. It can be very challenging to install an overhaul in procedure and daily practice company-wide, and while time and persistence are probably the most important factors, I’m going to list out a few more.

Here is your ‘To Do’ list to make your intranet a success!

  • Get support from up top: I am lucky enough to be in charge of an intranet that was the idea of our company’s president, Herb Dew. He has been the biggest advocate and motivator for this project, and his support has been a HUGE factor in encouraging company buy-in. Which leads us to…
  • Build your intranet WITH your users: The only way an intranet serves any purpose is if the people you create it for actually use it. To attain this, you have to know what the people want! Before you even begin the task of building the intranet, make sure you know what your employees are interested in seeing. Send out a survey, visit all your company’s locations, interview a varied sampling of employees. Basically TALK to your colleagues, find out what they are interested in, and make sure to incorporate it!
  • Make communication all-inclusive: This intranet’s main purpose is to facilitate internal communication, right? So encourage that communication! Try to include a messaging application so employees in different branches can communicate instantly, have a social media aspect where employees can post whatever they want and comment on each other’s posts, encourage them to contribute to announcements and the sharing of company-wide information. Whatever kind of communication it is, make sure it can be done through the intranet!
  • Facilitate efficiency: Another big selling point of an intranet is the chance to make everything more efficient. If more information is driven through the intranet that means less distracting emails. If a process that normally took logging into 3 different sites can now be done from one that takes 1/3 of the time. If a form that previously was printed, signed, scanned, and emailed to 5 different people can now be automated so all approval is done online then that reduces time, effort, and paper! There are so many ways to increase efficiency and cut out distractions through your intranet.
  • Incentivize your users: You can continue to encourage buy-in through little incentives. Emphasize visibility of senior staff through a question and answer section or videos of them relaying important company information. Provide opportunities to win gift cards or time off in exchange for participation in the intranet. Utilize polls/surveys/forums to give your employees the chance to provide feedback that they know will be heard and acted on. Give them a reason to log on and get engaged!
  • Reinforce company culture: What better way to act on your mission every day than by infusing it into the one place that brings every one of your employees together? If your company is all about visibility then load your intranet with important corporate information. If it’s all about giving back then communicate opportunities to donate time or resources. If it’s all about being fun and relaxed then have a joke of the day on the homepage or a running funniest profile picture contest. Whatever your company is all about, your intranet should be all about that, too!
  • Assign a team/individual to oversee maintenance and constant updating of the intranet: This might be the most important ‘To Do’ on your list. If no one is in charge of keeping the content fresh and the information pertinent, will anyone have a reason to log on? Probably not. It’s absolutely crucial that someone be in charge of the constant maintenance so that it never goes stale. Whether it be one person whose sole responsibility it is to oversee the intranet, like me, or a team that divides responsibilities equally, just make sure that somebody will see it through the long-haul and make sure your intranet never goes out of style!

Now you know what it will take to make your intranet successful. It can be a significant commitment up front but once it’s up and running the benefits will far outweigh the costs. There are so many upsides to creating a company intranet, but mostly it’s amazing the flow of communication that can come from giving your colleagues a place to do it!

Good luck and good communicating!