Intranets and the importance of internal communications for developing skills.
At a time of a national skill shortage when competition for employees and new talent increases how you recruit and retain your best people is increasingly important. Central to that is communication.
In most cases the first thought is to ensure your EUP (employer valuation proposition) is as strong as your company USP (unique selling point). But while you’re developing channels of communication with prospective employees are you maximising your conversations with current staff and ensuring you keep talent within your company?
How you communicate internally with your staff and other key stakeholders in your business is just as important as your external communications but can often get overlooked. Good internal business communication is vital and can affect a company’s ability to operate effectively and efficiently, maintain and improve staff morale and help build a skilled, well-informed workforce.
A company will use many tools to communicate internally, from simple electronic messaging and emails to newsletters and face to face meetings. But as a business grows in terms of its number of staff, different sites or even countries, communication becomes a hindrance to the business and there is a growing need for a much more substantial internal communications tool such as a dedicated intranet.
“The less people know, the more they yell” Seth Godwin
According to a Harvard Business Review study, 71% of business leaders rank employee engagement as being highly important to the success of their business, however only 24% think that their employees are engaged.
So how can you ensure your business is working, learning and talking together?
As an integral part of the modern workplace toolkit, used effectively, the intranet can unlock a range of benefits including increasing employee satisfaction, skillsets, staff morale and productivity to name a few.
Communicating your vision
A destination is easier to reach when you are supported along the way. An intranet is a great place to communicate the business’ mission and values, sharing that one vision across the workplace and encouraging employees to engage and to join you on your journey.
Communicating your business’ future goals and aspirations reassures employees that they are a vital part of the team and the company journey, increasing engagement and employee satisfaction.
With many businesses operating across a number of locations and even continents, and the development of increased flexible working hours, an employee’s time interacting with the business isn’t always centralised around core hours. Therefore, you need a communication model to work around their working lives, allowing them easy access to information where and when they need it.
Hub of information
It’s important to think of your intranet as the key communication channel for the whole business – not a bolt on.
Keeping employees up to date with what is happening across the business is vital to enhancing employee engagement. Open and honest communication encourages conversations within the team, increasing engagement and driving a one-team mentality.
A great intranet acts as a centralised communication hub, allowing employees access to a range of tools at their fingertips. From blog posts and business updates, to viewing training documents and communicating company values, the intranet is an online font of knowledge.
Information enhances skills, helping employees feel knowledgeable about business products, services and updates, increasing confidence and buy-in.
Not only is the intranet an integral way to keep employees informed on business activity, it is also a great place to give encourage two-way communication by asking for open and honest feedback.
Designed effectively, an intranet can create that open door policy between management and employee, allowing a comfortable place to share their opinions openly, without judgement. For example, by using a survey tool you can create an online forum for feedback, showing employees how their opinions matter and how they’re an important part of the organisation. Don’t forget to update your employees on the survey results and any changes made on the back of this, reinforcing the messages of trust.
Designed for maximum engagement and interaction, the intranet can be used by managers and leaders as a platform to celebrate success. By shining a spotlight on achievements through the intranet, from going above and beyond for customers or colleagues to long-service recognition and training qualifications, staff feel that hard work is acknowledged, in turn making them feel valued, increasing morale and engagement within the business.
Know your users
Your audience will fall into three camps – occasional and regular contributors and …lurkers. It’s known as the 1% rule. That is that only 1% of users within an online community will be actively contributing, 9% will contribute a little and the other 90% will be observers. So when it comes to measuring the success of your intranet, focusing on activity isn’t always the best measure, because while people may not be overtly active they are still very much consuming information and knowledge. More beneficial is to concentrate on understanding your different audiences. Identify what is motivating your active users and what are the barriers to engagement for others – which could be a lack of familiarity with social media formats and forums, time or when and where an employee has access to the intranet.
Constantly add value
Root your intranet into business operations so that it is the ‘go to’ for important documents, operational processes, training and skills updates, business insights, company information and announcements. In short, your intranet should become your business’ primary internal resource. Encourage all sectors of the business to contribute to this. Elements can include regular insight or business outlook articles from the SMT and a training hub which is a home for how-to videos and step-by-step guidelines and a portal for any appraisal process.
As the focus and need to address UK skills, recruitment and retention shows no signs of decreasing – it’s vital as businesses that we keeping the conversations going – creating and maintaining relevant, responsive and recruitment ready companies: working, learning and talking growth and strength.