Intranet (n): clunky internal website your company set up in 2004. Infrequently updated and seldom checked by the wider workforce. And almost never checked by frontline workers.
Sounds familiar? If so, your company is missing a trick. It’s time to stop ignoring the technological capabilities available to you and understand the different uses of an intranet.
A well-used company intranet can help create a happy, engaged workforce. If part of your workforce is mobile or works remotely, an intranet can also spread key information without leaving anyone out. Not to mention the instant access to company-wide services and benefits that it can provide.
What are the applications of an intranet?
An intranet goes beyond publishing and consuming content. It can provide a ton of other features and benefits. Let’s see the best uses of an intranet.
Still relying on a noticeboard to get key messages across to your staff?
If so, you’re relying on a trickle-down approach that’ll frustrate you. Not everyone in your organization walks up to a noticeboard on a regular basis, especially those working on the front line.
For example, you may hope that Brian from housekeeping will see an announcement for a company meeting and spread the word in his department, it’s wishful thinking at best. Even if he tries to spread the word, he can’t reach everyone, such as drivers out on deliveries.
No one likes finding out that they have an event to attend with no prior warning. On top of that, there can be other announcements that you absolutely want your workers to see. And you can’t rely on a noticeboard for these either.
The alternative? Share company announcements and updates via your intranet. Leveraging this intranet feature is faster and more convenient than a noticeboard. In fact, today there are intranets such as Blink that also offer a mobile app and support push notifications. These solutions don’t require the employees to come to the source of information, but help you reach workers where they are.
Instant messaging and employee directory
“But we have email!”
First, who’s “we?” Are you saying everyone in your organization has email? Maybe the desk-based workers do, but what about the frontline staff?
Second, 49% of American workers say that instant messaging enhances collaboration, according to a ReportLinker study. For example, if an employee needs to access an important document urgently and his login credentials have stopped working, instant messaging can sort of lot of back and forth communication faster and much more conveniently than email.
Not just that, instant messaging supported by an employee directory makes it a breeze to get in touch with someone instantly. Compare this with looking up someone’s email address, writing a thoughtful subject line, typing your whole message, and clicking send.
This is not to say that email is dead, but instant messaging has its own special place that email can’t take. So another advantage of an intranet is the built-in instant messaging and chat to improve teamwork in the workplace.
Employee social network
Think of how useful social media sites are for small communities. Local Facebook groups, for example, help people fundraise for charity events, find lost property and raise any issues they’ve noticed around the area. Creating the same type of channels is another benefit of an intranet. For example, HQ might be running a charity bake sale that it wants to advertise. Or someone might have found a wallet in the cafeteria and they want to find the rightful owner.
Intranet solutions that support communities like the ones on social media can be an easy, peer-to-peer way of dealing with these issues. Continuing with the wallet example, the worker who found the wallet could simply post an update such as:
“Wallet found on cafeteria floor with a small amount of cash, and handed to kitchen staff. To claim it as yours, let them know what color it is and what’s on the photo inside.”
And voila! Problem solved.
Your intranet can be a one-stop-shop for all the key housekeeping services your employees need. Intranet uses relevant to support may include:
- Easy reporting procedures for when things go wrong.
- Requesting replacement equipment from IT.
- Filing fault reports for vehicles and machinery.
- Reporting a workplace accident.
Your intranet can help employees not just perform these tasks, but also carry them out remotely and securely. And having these processes immediately accessible helps everyone stick to protocol. If your team can file reports remotely there’s more chance they can do so immediately.
Document sharing has a high place in the list of intranet applications. 49% of US workers face difficulty in finding documents, as per a Nintex survey. An intranet can solve this problem by providing a single, shared cloud storage space for all key company documents.
Uniform order forms, manuals for key bits of tech, key risk assessment documents… if your employees need it, put it on there and save them tedious hours of paper chasing!
Remember those staffing issues due to someone not catching an updated rota in time? One of the key advantages of an intranet is making these issues go away.
It lets workers view their shift rotas at any time and from anywhere. By investing in a mobile solution, you can even set push notifications up to let teams know when the next month’s rota is available.
Want to make it even easier? Let employees file shift swap requests online. They can send those directly to their manager or pinging the rest of the team with a message such as “would anyone like to swap shifts with Susan?”.
Time off requests
Making the time-off request process simple and accessible can do wonders for employee perception of HR. So why not integrate your HR system with the features of your intranet?
You can also set up this feature right inside your intranet if your intranet system supports it. Blink, for example, has micro-apps to set up HR services that include time-off requests.
It’s also easier for the management to have one single stream of time-off requests. This way, they can plan work and hire temporary staff if needed. Chaos averted!
Access to e-payslips
Whether to file taxes or apply for a loan, there are situations when workers need their payslips urgently. So having instant, electronic access to payslips is something every employee would appreciate, especially if you have a large mobile workforce.
It’s possible to set up your intranet as the go-to place for your employees to view and download payslips. One way to do that is to pick an intranet solution that gives you the benefit of integration with your timesheet software or provides native functionality to obtain payslips.
This way, your employees can check their past payslips and print them as and when needed. It’s fast, convenient, and even helps you save a few trees in the long run (not to mention the printing cost and the time needed to mail the paper payslips out).
Internal recruitment and employee referrals
Another use-case for an intranet is to speed up recruitment and keep things transparent, for both internal and external hires.
For example, if you advertise vacancies internally, consider having a virtual jobs board on your intranet site. It’s an easy way to make sure that everyone can find out about new opportunities from one central location. So they won’t have to rely on the workplace grapevine.
As the HR leader, it’s probably on you to make sure that your colleagues complete all their mandatory training.
If your “please complete your GDPR training” emails are falling on deaf ears and no amount of sticks and carrots are getting the job done, it’s time to consider applications of an intranet in training and onboarding.
First of all, how easy to find are your e-learning modules? You can make sure they are stored in one central place within the intranet.
Secondly, enabling read and acknowledge receipts on select messages can go a long way in ensuring compliance. And modern intranets such as Blink come equipped with this nifty feature.
Simply emailing e-learning courses over and over is not the solution, as it’s far too easy for them to get lost in busy inboxes. Besides, the non-office staff members don’t even check their inboxes often (or maybe not even have emails).
Recognition of good work
82% of employees think recognition plays a significant role in their satisfaction at work, as found in a study by SurveyMonkey and Bonusly. And chances are, your organization already has some form of employee recognition scheme — an awards program or a performance-related bonus.
But all too often, employees don’t even know about these affairs, let alone nominating their coworkers for awards or other recognition. They are also not in the loop about who’s won and why. And who can blame them! It’s easy to miss posters, email announcements, and the like when you’re busy, particularly if you’re not office-based.
The solution? Run your nominations through your intranet. Then once you have decided who you’re going to recognize, give a summary of their job, how they’ve gone above and beyond, and (crucially) what they’ve won.
Next, if the advantages of your intranet include a news feed and a pinning functionality, leverage these intranet features to ensure that your superstars get the recognition they deserve.
You can also encourage employees to use the peer-to-peer social network we’ve discussed above to call out everyday good work and acts of kindness. This helps to create a culture where people feel appreciated for what they do.
Social event calendar
Just like important internal files and documents, your key events could also benefit from an intranet, specifically from using an intranet as a single, easily accessible location for event dates.
Whether your team is putting on any parties, charity bake sales, activity and awareness weeks, or family fun days, make sure it’s captured on the intranet.
Having this knowledge in advance will help workers make time for the events. They can find babysitters, reschedule calls with suppliers, or make sure they have enough flour to bake those brownies everyone loves.
If your workplace is large enough, you might have clubs that meet on a weekly basis too. Providing specific channels for this conversation helps people keep on top of what’s going to happen and when so they can join in.
On top of this, why not send out push notifications so no one forgets on the day? It’s an easy way to make sure your events get ample participation from around the organization!
Integration with survey software
In case you haven’t heard, the annual feedback questionnaire is dead. Here’s why:
- Giving employees one chance per year to air their grievances results in employee satisfaction taking a nosedive.
- It’s a huge effort for your HR team to run.
- You can’t possibly respond satisfactorily to a whole year’s worth of complaints from everyone in the business at the same time.
So what’s the alternative? Smaller, more targeted ‘pulse’ surveys. Instead of putting out a lengthy survey, a pulse survey could be as short and simple as asking employees to rate how satisfied they are with the office parking space.
And a useful application of your intranet is to get these pulse surveys out to people and encourage responses. Rather than emailing everyone a clunky form, look for an intranet solution that you can integrate with survey software like Typeform or Survey Monkey.
Virtual suggestions box
As HR, improving your colleagues’ work environment should underpin everything that you do. In fact, two in three workers think it is really crucial that their managers pay attention to their feedback.
But don’t limit feedback opportunities to survey responses. If you use your intranet to encourage 24/7 feedback, you might just be surprised about how much of a positive impact it makes.
Survey responses (as you’ll well know) usually skew negative. But offering unrestricted, everyday feedback options removes the temptation to get all your complaints in whilst you can.
The result? A more laid-back, as-and-when attitude to workplace feedback that focuses on innovation.
It also helps create a sense of pride in your joint space. Your workplace could become warm and better organized due to the suggestions people make. Everybody wins.
Expenses and funding applications
It’s no secret that employees like to be reimbursed for expenses within a reasonable time frame. Nothing creates a sense of bitterness quite like shelling out money for key company activities and waiting months to be reimbursed.
Your intranet has the potential to make the reimbursement process easy for everyone (including your team, who have to deal with these requests). Even better if your intranet is mobile-friendly. Because then employees can just upload smartphone photos of their receipts — much quicker and easier than locating and using a scanner!
And whilst we’re on the topic of money, other popular use of an intranet includes processing of funding and grant applications. For example, if your workplace offers grants towards skills development or compensation to offset some of the cost of social activities, you can handle applications via your intranet.
Intranet Uses FAQs
How useful is intranet in a company?
An intranet can be an incredibly useful resource to have for a company. An intranet can help store and manage important documents, help employees stay connected and integrate business-critical apps. All of which will help employee engagement and productivity.
What are the uses of an intranet?
The main use of an intranet is internal communication. Providing a platform for employees to view the latest company updates, access important documents and communicate within the business.
Setting up an intranet is a significant investment but the benefits outweigh the costs. If configured well, an intranet is a powerful communication tool that can streamline the way workers interact and get things done.
Even if a majority of your employees are remote, an intranet can lead to a tremendous positive change in all aspects of work, including internal communications strategy, employee engagement, culture, and productivity.
The better you can configure your intranet to meet your employees’ routine needs, the more time you will save on admin gruntwork. You can then channel this saved time to play a more strategic role in your company’s growth and make a bigger impact.