When you hear the phrase ‘content is king’, it’s often in reference to content marketing used to attract customers. However, content resides everywhere.
Organisation’s today are being driven by a digital workplace revolution that has upended virtually every area of operations. Now an endless amount of content is created and stored in digital platforms including intranets.
Intranet content best practices to consider
Intranet content is at the heart of what makes an intranet effective. There are best practices for your intranet content you should consider. When managed correctly, your content should:
- Meet your objectives for the intranet
- Support your user’s goals
- Be accessible to the right users.
Important intranet content types
There are several intranet content types you may want to include as part of your intranet content planning and management strategy.
Here are 12 intranet content ideas and intranet content best practices, to help you turn your intranet software into a truly engaging and valuable support tool for your staff.
1. Department Specific Material
At minimum, your intranet should host department specific material. Ideally, your intranet will be user-friendly enough to split publishing out to different departments to manage and update their own sections. For example, the HR team would add in new staff forms, time sheets and policies, whereas marketing would be responsible for uploading new campaigns and brand assets.
Tip: Some end users prefer to simply use the search functionality to find content. Enable publishers to tag content via format and department, so end users can easily search for (and find) relevant content to their needs.
Related reading: [Case study] Forty Winks Intranet Success Story
2. Team Specific Material
Given that business teams are getting more complex and geographically distributed across many industries, hosting designated online workspaces centred around teams on your intranet creates a formal, centralised place for team communications. A team area could include project documentation, timetables and deadlines, links to external resources, integration to third party systems pulling in data, FAQs and wikis, all of which can significantly boost workplace productivity and collaboration among team members. After the project is completed, select information could then be stored in a historical resource library, mentioned below.
Tip: Team specific material as its name implies, is only relevant to specific groups of users. Your intranet may be able to only show this content to relevant users, rather than all intranet users. This ensures your intranet doesn’t become cluttered with too much irrelevant information.
3. Training Material
Your intranet is a repository of documents, videos and other information designed to enhance and broaden the skill set of current employees – playing an important role in disseminating new training projects. How-to guides and videos are a great way to relay the same information to a mass audience and ace your intranet adoption strategy.
Tip: Choose an intranet with a learning management system (LMS) capability or the ability to integrate to a third party LMS. This way users can seamlessly transition from undertaking training courses, to finding additional information and resources on the intranet.
4. Commonly used Documents and Templates
As your corporation expands, a host of diverse creators will be producing and uploading a growing body of the content in various formats onto your intranet. One challenge that you will face is maintaining consistency in tone and appearance among all this content. To help solve this issue, you can provide your corporation’s employees with a library of standardised documents and templates that they can easily find, access and fill in. Your document and template library could include common policies, procedures, agreements, contracts, checklists, headers and borders, as well as intranet related templates such as new pages and blog post structures.
Tip: Intranets have built-in document management system features that enable you to easily manage documents and templates. These features such as version control and notifying users when a document is created or modified, helps ensure only the latest versions of documents and templates are circulating on the intranet.
5. Archived Content, Projects and Materials
Along the same lines as the documents and templates library, your intranet can be a repository of data, specs and reports on previous projects, corporate-sponsored research, product development data and other important historical material. All of this can be combined and organised to create a vast knowledge library. Employees can then perform searches on demand and use their findings to make informed decisions in the future – whether to build on past successes or to avoid past failures.
Tip: If you’re worried about this cluttering your intranet, but you know a piece of content has a date when it will no longer be of use – choose an intranet that enables you to add in an archive/expiry date. This way the content will automatically delete or archive itself without a publisher needing to remember to do so.
6. Company News, Updates and Announcements
Your corporate intranet can also act as a centralised news feed for internal communication through company-wide announcements and information. This can include corporate-sponsored events, important internal changes or policy adjustments, performance reports and highlights of notable employee achievements. Not only can a central news feed increase transparency, it can also help to bolster the corporate culture and encourage employee engagement. You could include positive feedback from management for teams.
Tip: This is one of the key areas you should consider personalising to each user and/or group of users. A common approach to intranet content personalisation is to segment news, updates and announcements by teams and locations.
7. Employee Profiles
On the surface, employee profiles give overviews of standard information and content details. But it goes deeper than that. Profile information can help your intranet system create a more personalised experience for the user such as areas of expertise, organisation charts and where they sit in the reporting chain, links to social channel profiles, their latest intranet activity such as documents they’ve updated and much more. To that end, encouraging employees to properly fill in their profile information should be made a priority.
Tip: If you have a dedicated section on your intranet for a specific department or team, consider adding the relevant portion of the organisation chart in that section. For example, if you have a team specific section, add in an organisation chart with all members of that team. This makes it much easier to see who is involved with that team and the right person to contact.
8. Employee Generated Content
Wikis, discussion groups, blogs, social posting and other social tools help employees have meaningful dialogue with each other, whether it’s in search of advice or simply to chat and interact with each other. These social tools can also be used for product and service development in order to locate errors, reduce problems and ultimately help staff perform their jobs. One side benefit is that both the questions and the responses they receive can be recorded, archived and referenced for future projects. It can also be used to encourage interaction between staff who don’t usually get to talk to each other in person.
Tip: Departments and teams often work in silos, with those outside unaware of what that department or team is working on. Consider setting up team blogs with news and updates on everything from successes, achievements and new projects, to charity work and baby announcements. This is a great way to not only generate content on your intranet, but to create a more open and transparent organisation.
Bonus tip: Some intranets offer structured authoring capabilities. This means users can fill in information via a form and a new page will be created based off both a pre-defined template and the form answers. This is a great way to create employee generated content that is consistent with the rest of your intranet content. It can also be attached to a workflow to be approved by an administrator before being published.
Related reading: [Blog post] The Power of Forms and Workflows for Intranets and Portals
9. Employee Guidelines, Policies, and Procedures
Whether you are onboarding new employees or wanting to help current employees act within company guidelines, having a searchable, easy-to-use repository of company-wide policies, procedures, and best practices is always a good idea. Again, this goes back to the issue of transparency and to giving your employees the information they need to get the job done as effectively as possible.
Tip: If you have mandatory policies and procedures your staff must read and acknowledge, consider hosting them on your intranet. Some intranets enable you to create new template pages that prompt staff, via a pop up or at the end of page, notifying staff they must tick and acknowledge the content in order to move forward. Administrators can then check who has and hasn’t acknowledged the content on the page.
10. Employee Recognition and Rewards
If creating a positive company culture is one of your key goals, then having a dedicated employee recognition and/or rewards section is great. There are several ways you can approach this. You can enable staff to nominate each other via a form on the intranet, with the winner receiving a prize and being featured on the homepage intranet. You can create a news feed dedicated to great customer feedback and tag relevant staff members. If your staff are competitive and like gamification, you could highlight the best performing staff of the week. You could create programs that enable staff to give points to colleagues for doing a great job, whereby staff then redeem these points for a reward. There are endless possibilities.
Tip: If you’re not ready or able to implement a full employee recognition and rewards program on your intranet, you can start with simply providing the ability for staff to create social posts with commenting and liking capabilities. Staff will appreciate colleagues showing their support in this small way.
Related reading: [Case Study] Vita Group Intranet Success Story
11. Interest Groups
One of the best ways to build a positive culture is to encourage staff to bond outside of work-related tasks. Creating sections on the intranet for interest-based groups is a great way to connect people who don’t work in the same department. Common interest groups include sports, health-related, arts and culture, childcare and more. Each section can display a list of members, events and meetups, related external resources, documents, social posts and more.
Tip: Here at Elcom, we’ve noticed out clients who have a large and diverse workforce, are adding classified sections on their intranet. This is achieving high engagement from staff. That is, they create a classified or goods and services exchange board for staff to post items they have for sale and provide their contact details.
12. Onboard New Staff
Along the same lines, your corporate intranet can also help onboard new employees by making the transition as painless as possible. Upon arrival, new staff can be assigned personalised intranet home page content that provides information about the company's values, mission, policies and procedures. To help with the social side, new employees could have access to special orientation forums and videos, FAQ pages and receive welcome messages, as well as status updates from both peers and managers.
Related reading: [Blog post] 6 Steps to Master the Employee Onboarding Process
Tip: You could create a section dedicated to new employee onboarding with all the common resources new staff need including forms to fill in, policies to read and consent to, documents to refer to, videos to watch, courses to undertake, links to third party resources and more. You could lay this out as a checklist to ensure staff complete all required tasks.
Your corporate intranet is more than just the digital answer to internal communications, employee engagement and team collaboration. It's really the thread that connects the fabric of your company together by supporting key business processes. As your business grows and develops, continually improving your intranet and pursuing the right intranet content strategy can help to ensure that all of your company's disparate parts are still going in the same direction.
We recommended you read the guide - How to Successfully Plan, Deploy and Launch an Intranet. This comprehensive guide will equip you with best practices and insights to properly plan, deploy and launch your intranet.
Only when you truly understand if your intranet and the content within it is helping employees do their jobs more efficiently, will you be able to create a thriving hub of activity and facilitate a high performance workplace via your intranet.