Normally when we work on an intranet it is to provide direct business benefits; to find effective and efficient ways to improve company profits. “Let’s publish more brochures to help win work” or “Let’s do a round of health and safety awareness to limit our liability”.  Studies abound, however, linking employee satisfaction with an improved financial bottom line. In the book, The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want, for instance, author David Sirota and colleagues draw on 30 years of research to conclude that enthusiastic employees consistently outproduce and outperform their less satisfied counterparts. The white paper Effects of Employee Satisfaction on Company Financial Performance links to further case studies and research.

So what are some key initiatives management can undertake to improve employee satisfaction? The Inc.com article 7 Ways to Improve Employee Satisfaction covers some of the basics companies can look to; following those principles here are some ways you can apply them on your intranet:

1. Give employees more control

Encourage feedback and discussions on the intranet by implementing a forums application such as VBulletin; allow users to change the colour scheme; do everything you can to ensure your intranet performs at lightspeed (every split second counts); or use your intranet to promote and run competitions.

2. Improve your employee’s commute

Use the intranet to set up a database driven car pooling system; and improve access to your intranet for mobile device users (for those who don’t use a car).

3. Stop wasting time

Archive or delete any redundant, out of date, low-quality or irrelevant content on your intranet; improve intranet usability by making the navigation/taxonomy as intuitive as possible (run user tests or card sorting exercises before rolling it out); and work on improving the relevance of search results (using, for example, weights, filters and best bets).

4. Improve social connections

Use discussion forums; have a directory that makes it easy to connect and find others with similar interests via communities or profile metadata or instant messenger links. Also, set up charitable communities of practice on your intranet so people can get involved in this sort of activity improving their satisfaction with work and raising your firm’s external profile.

5. Promote good health

Host a site on your intranet that helps people deal with health related issues; run a sport related competition on the intranet so teams of staff can compete against one another; link to health experts that staff can readily communicate with; or run surveys on the safety of user work environments.

6. Create an atmosphere of growth

Support learning in your organisation through an LMS on your intranet (like Moodle); promoting engagement in communities of practice; encouraging mentoring through a ‘mentors portal’; and linking to external professional bodies. You can also use your intranet to ensure the business decisions made by management are transparent to all employees; this will drive their engagement with the business and give them a sense they might be – or perhaps even prepare them for – making those decisions some day.

7. Break up routines

Use an agile, rather than waterfall, project management methodology when upgrading your intranet. Users will see a continuous stream of small improvements constantly letting them know their needs are being catered to and giving them those small ‘surprises’ that improve their experience of coming in to work.

This is a really exciting area to work in; our work on the intranet can make such a big difference to people’s attitudes which has knock on effects for morale and customer satisfaction.

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