How would you describe your organization’s intranet? Archaic? Disorganized? A last-resort source of information for your employees?
Oof. The truth hurts.
If you’d describe your organization’s intranet using those words, you’re not alone. In fact, we hear this a lot. That’s why we’re working to reimagine the intranet to serve a new and improved purpose: employee engagement.
So if you’re about to Shift+Delete your intranet, think again, and stay with us…
Your organization’s employees are your most important audience. They’re your strongest voice for amplifying marketing messages because of how close they are to the mission.
But by accepting the intranet in its current state, which we’ll call “intranet 1.0,” organizations are doing their employees, and ultimately their brands, a disservice. So it’s beneficial to invest the time and effort in building “intranet 2.0” to keep employees informed and engaged — and to leverage the intranet as an employee engagement tool.
Why the Intranet 1.0 Isn’t Working
The intranet gets a bad rap but for no fault of its own. The intranet 1.0 isn’t working because of how it has been mismanaged and approached.
- The intranet is an undefined shared responsibility. In many organizations, it’s a murky mix among marketing, communication, human resources and IT. When responsibility is undefined, things tend to fall through the cracks.
- The intranet is approached as a “box check.” As in: “Do we have an intranet? Check. Did we post the pledge form for the ‘Dunk Your Favorite Doctor’ fundraiser? Check. Did we update the latest HR policy or new benefits form? Check.” Getting things done is great, but doing so just to check a box kills strategy.
We all know what happens when teams without defined responsibilities go crazy checking boxes: chaos resulting from a lack of strategic focus ensues. Over time, this lack of strategy has led to a couple of problems:
- Disorganized content: The intranet in its current state primarily serves as a repository of information. That’s putting it nicely. So let’s be clear: The intranet has become a dumping ground for documents such as policies and forms.
- Archaic look and feel: Between the time when intranets were developed and now, websites charged ahead from a user experience standpoint, and intranets have stagnated. Users have come to expect a welcoming web experience and won’t settle for less.
As the intranet 1.0 has evolved, it has strayed from taking its audience’s content needs into account and, therefore, has become less user friendly. Its disorganization and archaic look and feel has resulted in employees avoiding their organization’s intranet altogether. Sound familiar?
Eased Access to Open Enrollment Resources
We worked with a client whose intranet’s architecture and design served as a barrier to employees receiving information about open enrollment. So we built a separate dedicated landing page with simplified navigation and a clear linking strategy.
The client sought to transition 25 employees from a preferred provider organization plan to a high deductible health plan. With an easier-to-navigate landing page, the company exceeded its goal and transitioned 189 employees.
Introducing the Intranet 2.0: Social Intranets
Considering that the goal of the intranet is to educate and engage, it should offer social and emotional connection among employees and between them and their organization. An effective way to carry the intranet 1.0 into version 2.0 is to mimic the approach of the best engagement tool out there: social media.
Similar to Facebook, the intranet 2.0 would have:
- Newsfeeds front and center, where employees can receive quick updates that link to more information
- Affinity groups built around non-work related common interests to encourage camaraderie
- Tools the organization offers its employees to enhance their lives such as support groups and wellness benefits
Learn how to deepen engagement with your community on social media, and apply this information to social intranets.
Easy Tips for Upgrading Your Intranet
So how do you go about upgrading your intranet from 1.0 to 2.0? Simply apply the same healthcare marketing principles you use every day, and check out our tips:
Listen to what the data is telling you
Review your intranet’s analytics, and identify the least-frequently visited pages and least-frequently downloaded pieces of content. Find out if those pages and pieces of content are necessary and up-to-date. If not, remove them; it’s clear that your audience won’t miss them.
Separate internal communication from the intranet
Many organizations miss out on the opportunity to share stories externally all in the name of “internal communication.” Internal communication includes news stories about your organization’s people and their accomplishments such as their research and awards.
These are stories that your external audiences — patients and consumers — need and want to see, allowing you to kill two birds with one stone. This information isn’t appropriate for an evergreen blog site, but it’s perfect for a news site. So why not launch an external news site and move your internal communication there?
Launching an external news site makes it even more critical to keep your content strategic. For example, step away from the fluff that you’ve been pressured to promote such as bake sale fundraisers and other announcements. This information only applies to a small segment of your internal audience.
Staying strategic will also help you with mastering the chaos of healthcare marketing so you can drive success for your team and organization.
Interested in improving your hospital’s internal communication? Check out our tips.
Identify who’s on first, and collaborate
Is it marketing, communication, human resources or IT or a shared ownership? Join forces, and tackle the intranet together if you aren’t doing so already. You can also make the process of content creation more manageable by empowering staff to contribute.
Follow web best practices
Web best practices still apply:
- Consider your audience: Keep in mind that you’re communicating with employees who work different shift schedules. So your intranet must be mobile-friendly to ensure information is available to all employees at all times, including those who don’t work at a desk.
- Write for the web and mobile: Web users have short attention spans. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short — ideally less than 20 words per sentence and three sentences per paragraph. Use headers and bullets to make your content scannable.
- Vary content types: People like to see variation in content types, because it makes webpages more interesting. Take a multimedia approach by including written content, images and video.
- Embrace simplicity: White space and easy navigation are your friends. Keep your navigation to five or seven short but descriptive labels. Put your navigation in an expected location, at the top or down the left side of the page.
- Link out to other useful owned media: Link to your organization’s blog sites and social media accounts to keep employees engaged right along with your consumers. Remember: They’re not only employees and brand ambassadors — they’re consumers, too.
Start simple, start small
We know what you’re thinking: “Keeping our website up to date is challenging enough!” We understand. Begin with a fresh new site, and recognize that you’re going to build your intranet 2.0 over time. Start simple, and start small with a big vision of what it can be.
Ready for Intranet 2.0?
Interested in learning more about our vision of the intranet and how it could work for your organization? Ten Adams’ experts are waiting to help! Contact Jennifer Horton to find out how, firstname.lastname@example.org.