With websites, email, social media and more, it may seem like the last thing you need is another communication platform for employees.
However, an internal website – an intranet – offers a suite of tools to ensure employees are in the best position to succeed.
What are the benefits of an intranet?
The first and biggest benefit of an intranet is increased productivity. McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) reported that “by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals—by 20 to 25 percent.”
And enhanced productivity can be measured in dollars and cents. MGI went on to say that in looking at four sectors, consumer packaged goods, retail financial services, advanced manufacturing, and professional services, that improved productivity could potentially contribute $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value.
Here’s how: According to MGI’s report, employees spend a quarter of their work week managing email and another 20 percent tracking down information or help from colleagues. By using a user-friendly and well-designed intranet that time spent on low value activities can be reduced by as much as 35 percent. Tasks get done more quickly using a centralised hub of communication and information.
Benefits and advantages of an intranet in detail
Productivity is the biggest benefit, but there are other benefits an intranet brings in communications, collaboration and feedback. Among them:
1. Company updates mean transparency
A central interface of all things company-related adds to company transparency. Providing information to employees empowers them with knowledge and creates a culture of trust and alignment with the company’s goals, and empowered employees are engaged employees. Studies show that transparency is the number one factor in employee happiness.
Company updates can include the company’s mission, vision and values, internal changes, community involvement, quarterly reports – or even the company bowling team’s trophy win.
2. Communication tears down silos
Teams that work in silos don’t share information, which leads to misinformation, wasted time locating information, disconnect of goals, and a lack of understanding about company strategy. Work is duplicated, deadlines are missed, and employees are unhappy, resulting in lost productivity.
When everyone understand that the intranet is the single source of truth for certain resources and for communication, feedback and information sharing, silos are brought down and collaboration skyrockets.
3. Satisfied employees leads to happy customers
When employee input is valued and employees aren’t afraid to share, employees are empowered. A flatter organisational structure elevates the employees' level of responsibility in the organisation, removes excess layers of management, and improves the coordination and speed of communication between employees.
But it has a secondary effect that’s just as valuable. When your employees feel nurtured and valued, productivity rises and interactions with customers become more positive and uplifting. That leads to happier customers and makes employees a powerful part of your marketing strategy.
4. Central information equals fewer distractions
Email occupies 23% of the average employee’s workday, and average employee checks his or her email 36 times an hour. And it takes up to 23 minutes to refocus on a task after an interruption, according to a University of California at Irvine study. People compensate by working faster, but that leads to more stress, higher frustration, time pressure and effort.
By having, information, communication, collaboration and feedback in one place – a place the employee is already at - means less wasted time and ultimately, less wasted money.
5. A place for person to person communications, too
While an intranet allows for company-wide communication, it also allows for private person-to-person communications as well. Those communications are in real time and allow for faster responses and feedback.
6. Employees’ accomplishments get recognised
Everyone likes recognition. Some 85 percent of workers whose employers recognise employee’s accomplishments are happier, prouder at work, and satisfied with their jobs. Using the intranet to share employee awards, pass on customers’ kudos, and recognise work-related accomplishments, helps improve morale and workplace happiness.
7. A place for housekeeping tasks
When an employee wants to go on vacation, record a sick day, submit expenses or even sign up for insurance, the intranet can be a clearinghouse for all those instructions and forms that are critical to day-to-day housekeeping tasks. Making it easy to find the forms and understand the processes takes less time from the work day and makes it less stressful on the employee.
8. It’s not all business
An intranet doesn’t discount a little fun and games. Employees can have a place to share memes and gifs as well as personal achievements, such as a picture from a 5k marathon or even a new pet. Corporate doesn’t have to mean boring.
All of this comes with a caveat: An intranet is only effective if has the right features for your business, can change with changing business and employee priorities, and is regularly reviewed and updated. If documents aren’t uploaded, forms aren’t changed with updated policies, or the company news hasn’t been updated for a year, an intranet is no use to anyone. It is strongly recommended you create an intranet strategy and management document to formalise these guidelines.
An intranet should be easy-to-use and useful to employees. They need a reason to go there – with communications, information, and document management in one place, the user experience must be better than using than all the separate tools employees are used to. The system must be functional and allow for easy feedback and sharing between not just employees in a department, but within different departments, and with management as well. It should make it easier for everyone to do their job and create a central collaboration point for everyone.