Intranet definition and how intranet software can transform a business
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We're often told that an intranet can help how an organization operates - but how? Businesses are confronted with challenges every day; how can intranet software overcome these often delicate and complex challenges? 

To answer this question, we must first look at what an intranet is and does. 

An intranet is a private enterprise network designed to support an organization's employees to communicate, collaborate and perform their duties. But this intranet definition doesn't really communicate the broad spectrum that it covers. Intranet software serves a wide range of purposes and uses, but at its core, an intranet is there to help employees.

Its role in a business is very much as a central hub of activity, discussion, information, and knowledge-sharing. It opens up accessible communication channels, provides visibility to every user, empowers employees to feedback, asks questions, and helps others. In short, an intranet creates a connected workplace. In an organization used to silo structures, limited communications with remote workers, and frontline staff with information in disparate areas, this can be revolutionary.

But like with any software, the success of an intranet lies in it being used and managed correctly. If you're using it solely to find company information, store personal data and hold contact details, you're not using your intranet to its full potential.

Your company's intranet can offer vital tools to improve productivity and aid problem-solving, making it a critical pillar in the business's infrastructure. So, what should your organization's intranet be doing?

  • Address challenges faced in multiple departments

  • Improve communication and employee engagement

  • Help promote your culture and company values

  • Be the touchstone for introductions, onboarding, and training for employees.

  • Bring together knowledge and expertise to become the place where people automatically go to find solutions to problems.

Most intranet software is defined by features and functionality, including many vital attributes such as search, directory, and dynamic homepages. However, an intranet shouldn't just be defined by its features list. When you're deploying an intranet, you need to look at your organization's objectives, structure, and processes, and uncover the important challenges that your intranet should be helping to overcome.

Communicating Change

As the saying goes, the only constant is change, so your business must have some plan in place to prepare for it - in whatever form it takes. But how do you communicate big change to your workforce? Many businesses suffer from communication problems, and when a change is on the horizon that could affect workers, it is important that it is designed, executed, and communicated correctly. Effective change management is vital to ensure the smooth execution of even the smallest of events.

Whether it's a merger or acquisition, new tech or even a change to office hours - making sure employees are kept up to date with developments and helping them adjust to the new status quo is vital to the company's long-term health.

Most businesses find that a lot of their people are resistant to change, and it can take several stages before any adjustments are adopted and embraced by the company as a whole. Luckily, your intranet is the perfect tool to help with change management.

The Employee Lifecycle

Recruitment is a significant expense for a business. But many companies overlook the importance of a warm welcome and fail to set up an employee with an onboarding process. Much research has gone into the business benefits of a proper introduction procedure for new candidates, which is where an intranet comes in. The software can play a vital role in welcoming new starters on board, even before they've officially joined:

Pre-boarding: Businesses can give new candidates low-level access to the intranet before their start date. This not only allows them to become accustomed to company culture, it also builds up excitement about their new role and allows them to feel welcomed before their first day.

Onboarding: Accessing an onboarding section on the intranet is incredibly useful for new recruits. Creating one point of contact for training, welcome blogs, people's directory, and essential company information is an excellent introduction to the intranet's role within the business and a convenient way for trainers to manage inductions. A personalized new starter homepage on your intranet, which pushes vital information for the first few weeks to readers, can be a powerful way to welcome and embed new staff.

According to Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D, president for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), new employees who participated in an onboarding program were 69 percent more likely to remain at a company for three years. When it costs around £30,000 to replace an employee (Oxford Economics), an intranet can be a valuable staff retention tool.

The Self-Serving Employee

One of the biggest challenges within a business is enabling the sharing and dispersing of knowledge. When it comes to information gathering, it can often fall upon one person (usually the longest-serving employee) to supply the answers. And if that employee should leave, the business faces huge issues.

While word of mouth may work in small set-ups, the bigger the company gets, the more information and insider know-how gets lost. Rather than rely on a human point of contact, a business should create an intranet that enables each and every employee to seek answers and information themselves.

By setting up FAQs, forums, an excellent onsite search engine, and other information-sharing devices, the intranet becomes an organization's go-to destination for finding answers and sharing knowledge.

Risk & Compliance

Every employee needs to be given essential information to empower, protect, and advance them in their day-to-day roles. Rules and regulations, policies, laws, and requirements all contain information that can keep the business and the workforce safe. The problem is that this information is fairly dry, and many workers may be resistant to reading them.

Making these 'mandatory reads' - a section employees have to read and then tick to complete, should be part of onboarding and yearly progress appraisals. This pushes the worker to go through the process of reading them and allows the employer to know the vital information is being given to every team member.

Organizational Culture

The pandemic and lockdown have had a significant impact on workplace culture. With remote work, high levels of anxiety, and a disconnect to the office, employees have been deprived of that intangible connection to their organization and to each other. Nurturing a positive company culture drives people's behavior, productivity, and employee satisfaction and should be a priority in a post-pandemic workplace.

Your intranet is an effective device for promoting this culture. Whether it is communicating your company values, reading up about new team members through personal bios, engaging employees with fun polls, or using it as the main communication device to speak to the workforce as a whole, your intranet can be a valuable tool in maintaining your company culture's momentum.

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Supporting the internal comms and HR departments, an intranet has the power to transform how your organization communicates, connects, and innovates.

Keeping the workforce up to date with company news, with access to the right type of information, a great onboarding process, and upholding a strong company culture are everyday problems that companies face. However, when you've created a proper implementation and deployment strategy, these issues will cease to be challenging and start to become just another feature of your intranet.

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