How Can You Keep Employees Engaged in an Intranet?

Business laptopAfter a lot of planning, testing and integration, you’ve had a successful launch and your employees were excited and enthusiastic about their new intranet.

An initial flurry of content was added and features were heavily used, but then activity in the intranet decreased.

Too often with intranet projects, employees lose interest over time. The shininess of a new system wears off in the employees’ daily grind, and the intranet becomes a graveyard.

Content stagnates, becomes out of date, irrelevant, or even false, and this discourages employees from checking for new information, or referring to existing information.

Having spent a great deal of resources developing a great intranet, you don’t want this to happen!

So, how can you keep their initial enthusiasm for the long run?

There are many ways to encourage engagement. Choose activities appropriate for your employees – not all workplaces are filled with people who love football, photography, writing or cooking!

Provide incentives and recognition?

There are a great variety of incentives as shown by Hazel Hall, Director of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University in her useful presentation “Devising intranet incentives”. Rewards don’t necessarily need to be financial.

We agree with author Dan Pink, traditional (monetary) incentives don’t motivate. In fact, when completing tasks that require thought and cognitive skill, extrinsic rewards like money, actually demotivate workers. It is heavily discussed internally at //SEIBERT/MEDIA, whether it is possible to motivate employees (at all).

Featuring a group’s achievements (recognizing their good work), running a social event, or providing small physical prizes, are all good incentives that work and should not externalize what needs to be intrinsic motivation.

A variety is best, because everyone is motivated by different things.

You can give small rewards or recognition to those who complete their profiles and project pages, contribute to departmental areas, post regular and relevant content to blogs, create the best templates and documentation, and so on. But please do not reward with money at all.

Keep content fresh, correct and relevant

One of the biggest problems with intranets is that content is rarely updated. Intranets quickly become overloaded with out-of-date, redundant, and irrelevant information.

Add-ons can help by automatically displaying similar content to prevent duplicate work, archiving old content, or flagging content to be revised on a schedule.

The Atlassian marketplace has a wide variety of add-ons for Confluence intranets, and //SEIBERT/MEDIA has developed many to help stay on top of content: Duplicate Content Defender prevents redundant work, Microblogging enables fast-paced social collaboration and content sharing, Enterprise News Bundle makes corporate news attractive to employees.

In addition to this, you can hold content-audit events with prizes, or give recognition to employees who regularly update and prune content.

Feature employees or projects

Providing recognition or featuring employees and their work within the intranet is one type of incentive that works well for most employees. It can give exposure to projects that may otherwise remain hidden, allows for better connections between employees,  encourages participation, and through these connections, fosters collaboration and innovation. All good things for a company!

This is especially useful in distributed workplaces – employees can get to know colleagues from offices located around the globe or from traditionally strictly separated departments.

An intranet with built-in features for liking and sharing content internally is a great way to track the popularity of new and existing content, and reward its creators.

Hold contests

Most people love the chance to win something. Contests can be used to maintain enthusiasm for an intranet. Refrain from competitive contest with rewards for people, but instead focus on the task or goal. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Vote on the most outdated, irrelevant piece of content found.
  • Run a yearly treasure hunt within the intranet’s content.
  • Hide ‘Easter eggs’ throughout the pages – fun facts, jokes or silly cartoons. Give prizes to those who discover the most.
  • Hold an ‘event’ to find and fix changes, keep a departmental tally of pages changed, and celebrate the ‘winner’ with cake or a barbeque.
  • Take a photo of something within the workplace, preferably abstract or partially hidden, and get employees to guess what it is.

What types of contests do you enjoy?

Include social content and features

An intranet doesn’t have to be used solely for work-related activities. In fact, social intranets like our Linchpin are becoming extremely popular, especially in distributed workplaces.

You should include non-work content to bring your employees closer together, improving communication and collaboration within your company.

  • Run a photography or short video competition.
  • Hold a football tipping competition, or whatever sport is most popular in your workplace.
  • Post photos and videos from social events allowing employees in distant locations to feel closer to their colleagues.
  • Publish a daily or weekly recipe on the microblog.
  • Post fun trivia on the microblog, hold polls for upcoming social events, include cartoons from artistic employees.
  • Advertise events in which employees are participating outside of work hours (art installations, musical performances, sporting competitions, etc.)

Use it often

Some intranets are used just for reference – storing policies and procedures. Others purely for corporate communication. These types of intranets don’t get used much by employees, and probably can’t justify their high price tag.

Instead, you can integrate the intranet into your employees’ work days, improve productivity, and often reduce the number of emails and meetings.

  • Use it as a tool to onboard new employees. They can learn about the company and its culture, read up on projects, get to know and interact with their colleagues (especially in distributed workplaces), keep in touch with a mentor, and help make the intranet better by pointing out unclear and expired content, or misleading categorization.
  • Document meetings in the intranet, not in email. A prepared agenda, a quick meeting, and a summary with tasks that attendees need to complete can all be recorded in the intranet, cutting down on back-and-forth, time wasting email. Meetings will be shorter, more focused, and probably fewer in number because of this.
  • Incorporate digital processes within the intranet. Leave requests, travel expense claims, performance reviews – all of these can be completed within the intranet itself, cutting down on context switching and physical paperwork.
  • Use an event add-on to organize and publicize events. This cuts down on the email RSVPs and requests for further information.

Most importantly …

Ask your employees how they currently use the intranet, what they enjoy about it, and how they would like to use it or improve it in the future. Perhaps with an intranet survey or poll.

And then implement their suggestions (at least some of them!)

How can we help you?

//SEIBERT/MEDIA are experts in all aspects of intranets, collaboration and company communication. Whether you considering or starting a new intranet project, relaunching or expanding your existing intranet, we’d love to support you. Please do get in contact with us!

Further information

All //SEIBERT/MEDIA’s add-ons in the Atlassian Marketplace
Encouraging employees to use a social intranet
Why do intranets grow old so fast?
Better meetings with an intranet
Onboarding with an intranet

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