7 reasons employees aren’t using your employee intranet

Are employee intranets actually hurting your employee engagement? Read on to learn why your employees actually aren't using your intranet - and what they'd rather use.

What we'll cover

While some things from the 90s are coming back into style - extra baggy jeans, cardigans, bucket hats -  there are also some things that never went out of style that should have, like your employee intranet. In this era of digital transformation, old school intranets are having an (often negative) impact on employee engagement from the office to the frontlines. 

For most HR and Comms teams, relying on a traditional intranet system that came out at the same time as the Playstation 1 to fuel their employee engagement strategy won’t cut it anymore. Let’s dive into the reasons why and what to look for when searching for a better alternative. But first…

What is an intranet?

The advent of a computer and internet-powered workforce in the 1990s made working faster with global teams a reality, but it introduced a new problem: how do you make information accessible to employees without relying on the nascent, unsecured web?  

The intranet solved that problem by giving companies a local, private network for employees to store and share information. Traditional intranets are secure and cost-effective ways to manage sensitive company data, but it comes with many limitations and disadvantages for today’s workplace.

Traditional intranets are sprawling digital file cabinets. With so much information, from policies and benefits packets to corporate updates, it can be hard to find and keep things updated. And because most are relics of a different era, mobile access for frontline employees can be difficult, if not impossible. In short—traditional intranets aren’t doing HR and Comms teams any favors when it comes to getting critical information out to the entire organization.

We’ve broken down the advantages and disadvantages between traditional and modern intranets if you want to learn more. But since you’re here, it probably means you’re familiar with many of the challenges with a traditional intranet because you’re seeing the end result: employees aren’t using it. 

To fix that problem, HR and Comms teams have to understand what’s driving the (lack of) behavior. Then, you can properly search for a solution that addresses the root of your employee engagement challenge. 

7 reasons why employees don’t want to use your intranet

The intranet was designed to be the end-all-be-all source of information at every organization. Over the last three decades of digital workplace transformation, that perception has changed. Now, according to our research, nearly one-fifth of employees don’t use their intranet and a worrisome two-thirds of those are not even sure how to log on. 

With emails and instant messaging tools dominating communications and employees relying on dozens of SaaS-based apps to do their jobs, even the HR and Comms employees who are using the intranet aren’t keeping it up-to-date. There’s just not enough time to manage everything, and oftentimes this means the intranet becomes an afterthought. 

Here are the 7 key reasons that your traditional intranet is no longer living up to your employees’ needs and expectations. 

1. Lack of user-friendly design

Ask your employees to describe your intranet and you’ll probably hear words like clunky, frustrating, and useless. In fact, research shows that nearly half (47%) of workers find their company intranet difficult to use

When held up to the standards of modern business tools, traditional intranets fall short in every category. Everyone, from Boomers to Gen Z, is frustrated by the confounding search function, the not-from-this-century navigation, and the top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to organizing and presenting information.   

As a result, users are choosing friendlier, more siloed options whenever possible and leaving the intranet behind.

2. Irrelevant or outdated content

Whether you’ve had an intranet for three years or thirty, it is likely filled with an immense amount of content. And most of that content is not relevant to most people. Keeping your old intranet up-to-date is a monumental task, but it rarely belongs to any one person or organization in particular. As much as HR and Comms teams try, some information must remain there for historical or compliance reasons, further complicating efforts to provide a good information experience. 

However, since traditional intranets struggle to deliver a good search experience for documents and lack the deep personalization of modern apps, many employees skip the intranet and instead just ask others for help finding the information. Or, if the content is able to be found, it can result in redundant work being done.

3. Lack of mobile accessibility

Mobile devices are now a staple for any worker to stay connected and productive. In fact, 87% of companies have policies that encourage personal device usage for work activities. Traditional intranets, however, are not designed — let alone optimized — for smartphones. 

For frontline workers who often rely solely on mobile devices to stay connected, this can mean accessing and using the intranet while at work is impossible. As more work gets done on mobile devices, traditional intranets will fall further out of use in your organization. 

4. Insufficient training and onboarding

Many organizations are caught in a vicious cycle when it comes to user adoption for traditional intranets. As the old intranet becomes less useful for employees in your organization, it becomes less of a focus during training and onboarding, making the intranet less useful for a new round of employees who will then train…. Ah, you get the idea.

Since the clunky interface and search make it difficult for employees to just pick up the intranet on their own, training and onboarding are more important for it than more user-friendly, modern tools. But in reality, that time is being spent on training elsewhere now on other, more relevant things.

5. Limited integrations

At one point, the traditional intranet was the pinnacle of connection in the enterprise. But, as every company has added dozens (if not hundreds) of apps to their tech stack, your old intranet is no longer the center of the corporate information universe. HR, IT, and Comms teams now rely on a variety of tools where employees can access critical information and functionality. 

Without deep integrations with these tools, the intranet becomes just another — even less useful — tool for employees to remember their login for. 

6. Lack of engagement and social features

If an intranet is going to have an impact on employee engagement, it needs to be equipped with features that actually promote engagement. Traditional intranet solutions lack chat, social feeds, and surveys. Without those integrated alongside the content, employees will stick to the channels where they can actually collaborate with peers and stay engaged with leadership. 

The further behind traditional intranet solutions fall behind modern communication apps in engagement and social functionality, the less useful it will be for employees, HR, and Comms teams. 

7. Poor leadership endorsement

Executive teams are driven by high-level goals and KPIs. As the intranet becomes less useful and relevant to everyday life, it becomes less relevant to those goals and KPIs. That makes getting executives to buy-in and endorse using the intranet more difficult. 

It’s the final nail in the coffin for any technology. But a new era of intranets is changing the perception of the technology for employees and executives alike. 

What’s happening in the new “era” of intranets 

The business needs behind the traditional intranet haven’t changed — companies still need a way to securely share information and collaborate across different headquarters and work sites. In fact, the challenge is even greater now as more and more digital content is being created across the organization. Since traditional intranets can’t keep up with the need, they’ve fallen out of favor and into disrepair. 

Without a modern intranet to replace the traditional intranet, employees will find a more fractured information landscape, with documents and information stored in different apps and accounts — if it is accessible at all. In many organizations, email has become the lowest common denominator place for HR and comms teams to share information. But for organizations with frontline workforces, many employees lack a corporate email, which makes sharing sensitive information and corporate updates even more complicated.

The expectations for critical business tools like the intranet have evolved. Traditional intranets were purposely siloed away for security, but workers today expect their digital tools to be easy-to-use, connected, and be accessible anywhere. Most importantly, it should feel like an integrated part of their digital workplace, not a relic or an afterthought. 

Despite the power of today’s digital solutions, employees are increasingly disengaged at work. According to Gallup’s State of the Workplace Report for 2023, just 23% of employees are engaged on the job. Modernizing the intranet experience for your employees is not the only solution, but it is low-hanging fruit if you want to reverse that trend.

Delivering a modern intranet solution that is engaging and accessible to the entire organization is exactly why there are employee apps like Blink. The new era of employee intranets is not only aiming to solve the information problem of yesteryear — it is solving the challenges of the modern workplace. From working remotely on mobile devices to simplifying the number of digital tools needed to do the job, employee apps are revitalizing the intranet as a true, one-stop-shop for communication and collaboration.

What to look for in a modern intranet solution

When selecting an employee app to replace your aging, traditional intranet, there will be some familiar functionality to look for (how content is stored and searched for). But there will also be new features and functionality to consider that make an employee app more relevant to frontline and office-based employees. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key areas to consider when choosing the employee app to improve the impact of your employee engagement efforts.


Often overlooked, a good design can seriously boost engagement. In particular, the design can make adoption easier, ensuring the initial onboarding phase goes smoothly at launch and in the years to come. 

The design of your modern intranet solution should be:

  • User friendly: can everyone from the most to least tech savvy employees use it?
  • Familiar: is it customizable with your brand look and feel?
  • Easy to learn: can anyone pick it up and successfully navigate, search, and engage with others?


One of the biggest challenges of traditional intranets is the clunky content experience for producers and consumers. Your replacement should make it easy for HR and Comms teams to keep content fresh and up-to-date without becoming overwhelming. On the other hand, the employees reading and watching the content should only see what’s relevant to them. Make sure your employee app allows for personalization of the content experience by role, location, etc.


Every employee app needs to be designed for mobile access. Whether you have a frontline workforce or not, every employee should have access to the intranet. If your new intranet solution requires a desktop to use fully, the adoption and engagement rates will suffer as more people access work content and apps on the go. 


For something as important as an intranet, ease-of-use needs to be a top concern. Your employee app should be intuitive enough that anyone can use it. Apps that cater to tech-y power users can be fun, but everyone from the Gen Z cashier to the semi-retired Boomer bus driver need to feel as confident in using the employee app as the head of IT.

If your future employee app requires a lot of training on just how to use it, it may not be the right fit for a dynamic workforce. 


Let your new employee app be a cure for app fatigue. In the SaaS era, employees are being asked to use and remember logins for too many tools. With deep integrations and secure single sign-on, your employee app can be a one-stop-shop tool for everything they need — from the content in the intranet to payroll, timekeeping, benefits and IT tools. 

We call this the “digital front door,” because everything employees need to be successful can be housed in one app. This approach not only makes your intranet adoption skyrocket, but it also boosts the usage of all those other tools as well. 


Your company has unique needs, so your employee app should be flexible. For those with frontline organizations, having features like secure group and individual chats, social-media style news feeds, and built-in surveys gives HR and Comms teams many more ways to engage and inform workers who might otherwise not have access to email or other communications tools. 

The flexibility also allows employees to interact with and engage others in their preferred ways — whether that’s through likes and comments on posts or individual messages to peers. 

Executive buy-in-ability

Replacing something as ingrained as an intranet will need executive buy-in and sponsorship. Your new employee app needs to deliver greater ROI than a traditional intranet to justify the investment and the change in their eyes. (So make sure your next employee app features powerful analytics to measure adoption, engagement, and other KPIs.)

If you’re looking to improve the employee experience by upgrading to a modern employee app, we’ve put together tips to get leadership onboard. Download “The essential guide to executive buy-in for frontline employee experience” now.

Trade in your old intranet for a modern employee app

The intranet still matters — employees still need to securely access and share content internally — but traditional intranets are clunky, siloed relics of a bygone era. Neither employees nor the content are being set up for success today. What was once intended to be a source of truth is now just a source of frustration.

Blink’s modern employee app gives the intranet a new lease on life. With a mobile-first, user-friendly design, everyone from the frontline to the boardroom can access it anytime. By pairing the intranet’s functionality alongside social features, integrations with other tools, and single sign-on security, Blink simplifies the digital employee experience into one app with one login.   

For HR and Comms teams struggling to keep frontline workers engaged and informed, Blink makes staying connected easier than ever. See it in action with a demo today.

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