Posted on August 20 in Communication Tools

Intranets and Engagement

How to Grab Your Employees’ Attention—and Keep It

I’ve been thinking a lot about corporate intranets lately, as I’m hosting an upcoming event to spotlight innovative Atlanta-area portals at the end of August. The event, Cocktails and Intranets, is sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the internal communications of different companies.

At similar showcase events, I’ve been blown away by the creativity shown by some companies while others simply displayed uninspired blocks of information and messaging on their platforms. Every company that makes the investment in creating online communities for its employees seems to struggle with the best method of bringing people together. It begs the question: what works on corporate intranets as opposed to a company’s public-facing website? Should companies treat them the same way? Or are they both completely different? Well, it depends.

It’s ironic that even intranet experts can’t agree on what makes an intranet good, or how many “must haves” an intranet needs to be considered “good.” I think “good” is in the eye of the beholder, frankly. They definitely have to be catchy and hard to ignore.

A 2014 study found that we each get an average of 121 non-spam emails a day. That’s a lot of noise and clamor for your attention at work when you are already juggling phone calls, meetings and client requests. Your intranet has got to do some heavy lifting to make itself relevant as a platform for communication in an already-hectic day.

Intranets are a great tool to keep employees’ eyes on what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what’s in it for them—and their companies.

So what goes into the best intranets I’ve seen? It’s very much like what you’d want on your own external website:

  • You welcome feedback of every stripe. You ask questions and want—and publish—answers. Those can come in the form of polls, surveys, contests, or simple requests for feedback.
  • You understand that good visuals help tell a story in a shorter time, more interestingly. There are so many tools to create infographics and meme-type image icons, why wouldn’t you use them on an intranet if they’re so popular on the internet? Some great tools to consider include Canva, Easel.ly and Piktochart. Sarah James offers an array of great infographic-creating tools, too. Spoiler alert: Piktochart and Easel.ly are on here, but there are eight other great ones.
  • You help people do the math. James takes the double-dip sting away by offering another great thing for both intra- and inter-nets: data visualization tools. You know how sometimes it’s just hard to visualize a billion of anything? Not anymore, thanks to James’ curated list!
  • You allow peer-to-peer learning to take place. Workarounds, tips and tricks always are engaging—and appreciated.
  • You introduce employees to real people within the compay. There are all kinds of ways to do this. One is to post content in recognition of good work and achievement, either by a specific individual or through a team’s efforts. Or you describe a corporate initiative and illustrate it with photos. Or you demonstrate your employees participating in community events. All of these examples drive readership because people like to see themselves and friends in the news.
  • You give leaders a voice. Important information about the company written by leadership. A good example of this can be found here, which tells leaders what they need to share rather than letting their PR department do it for them – or, worse, not doing it at all.
  • You use your intranet as a way to keep employees informed during a major crisis. Keep employees up-to-speed with rapidly changing information that they can share. Sometimes employees are your best way to get the facts out, and the intranet can also help keep morale up during a crucial period for your company.

Finally, be sure to create an intranet using responsive design, so employees can get and use company information on their computers, tablets or phones. Make it easy and engaging to use, and your intranet will shine.

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