The Intranet and the Outdated Communication Playbook
The intranet is the traditional repository of company information for employees. So, it long has been a key part of the communication playbook for organizations.
But there’s a problem.
Too often, intranets are black holes. They are where important content disappears – never to be seen by the people who need it most to be productive at their jobs. In fact, one memorable study conducted by Prescient Digital Media, found that only 13 percent of employees say they visit their company intranet daily and 31 percent say they never do.
“Intranets are the most hated thing by employees,” said Mark Ragan, CEO and Publisher of Ragan Communications. “Show me an intranet that employees love and I’ll give that communicator a Nobel Peace Prize.”
Yet organizations continue to treat them as a one-stop resource for critical company information. The expectation is employees will go find what they need. Intranets typically reside behind a firewall, safeguarding content that requires a level of security. And there’s no doubt that they have a role to play in any employee communication strategy.
The hard part, though, is simply getting employees to use the company intranet – or even acknowledge that it exists. That’s because the world has changed and intranets haven’t.
The intranet was designed for a time when knowledge-workers typically sat in front of desktop computers at offices. But today, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, 43 percent of employees now work remotely at least part of the time. Then there are workers who aren’t glued to laptops because they’re driving delivery trucks, working on factory lines, standing behind checkout registers, and so on. Oh, and don’t forget about contract workers who are part of the growing Gig Economy and might not have access to corporate accounts.
Don’t they all need information, too?
One topic explored in The Definitive Guide to Employee Communication and Engagement, which was recently published by Dynamic Signal, is how employees today have far different expectations about how they should receive information. This is especially the case for digitally savvy Millennials, who have spent their entire lives on the cutting edge of technology. They get frustrated when their employers aren’t keeping up.
“The pace of change is so great that we have better stuff at home than we do at the office,” explained Jim Cockin, the Head of Group & Employee Communications at United Kingdom telecommunications company Sky. “It’s a race for businesses to keep up.”
The concept of a destination model – going to an intranet to search for something – doesn’t
make sense for modern employees. They’ve grown up with a distribution model where news comes to them. They expect information at their fingertips – literally. And nine times out of 10, they will be accessing it on their mobile devices.
Organizations have to adapt. The answer is not to give up on intranets. What’s required is a re-imagining of the intranet. The focus should be on bringing the intranet to the employees – wherever they are and in the convenient manner they prefer.
That means having the ability to deliver relevant, snackable and shareable bites of information that prioritize what’s most important to help them do their jobs better. Intranets alone cannot do that.
“Employee behavior really is evolving, and it’s following the path we’ve seen with consumer behavior,” said David Armano, Global Strategy Director at Edelman, the communications marketing firm. “That was really the canary in the coal mine. Consumers have become so dependent on mobile devices. They are basically the dashboard of our lives. That’s now transferring over to the employee experience.”
That’s the way people communicate in their personal lives. Shouldn’t it be the same way in their work lives? It just makes more sense. And both organizations and employees can get what they want, and need, from the intranet.
Download The Definitive Guide to Employee Communication and Engagement to learn more.