More and more organizations are realizing that their corporate intranet is an important vehicle for driving higher levels of employee engagement. However, not all intranets are designed to have the potential to make a positive impact on workplace happiness. When intranets are poorly designed, organically mismanaged, or left to decay without the required love and support they need, you will hear about it. Employees will say it makes their lives worse, not better. It takes a special combination of thinking outside the box — beyond the features and functionality and more into the world of what makes people tick.

Intranets, and for that matter successful corporate cultures that drive stronger levels of employee engagement, generally have some of the following ingredients in the mix:

  • Simplified access to everything
    We call it findability of information and experts, but people just want access to the tools they need to do their jobs and be effective. Access to tools like applications, information, or experts can be supported through a variety of ways. SharePoint has made the findability of people and expertise a central theme within the new My Site and Search experience. However, some executives are reluctant to encourage adoption because they think the social experience should happen outside the firewall in places like Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Community and social interaction
    Studies show that employees who have a best friend at work are happier and more engaged. A ‘best friend at work’ is someone who you can confide in and count on. A workplace where strong social connections can be made is a happier one. Social networking capabilities not only help people feel more connected but also help them be more connected and share ideas or provide help when someone needs it. Few things are more satisfying than feeling appreciated and recognized for one’s contributions.
  • Idea generation, discussion and feedback – fostering input so that opinions count
    A number one driver to becoming disengaged is feeling like your opinions and ideas don’t matter. If you aren’t respected, listened to, and making a contribution then it’s inevitable that you’ll feel like a replaceable piece in a puzzle. Organizations that understand this and appreciate the value of the ideas locked in their employees minds are turning to basic social features like discussions, commenting, ratings, rankings, and forums to fuel feedback loops into intranets to improve the content, gather innovative ideas and thinking, and to help a community form across like-minded individuals.
  • Clear and compelling communication
    Most communications professionals know that storytelling around mission, vision, strategy and direction to the company is critical to employee alignment and engagement. Communicating this in a vast sea of information is difficult. A good intranet will allow for both effective top-down strategic communications, but also give employees access to more reciprocal, raw just-in-time messaging. This requires not only a trained communication team, but also a great web publishing framework with thoughtful channel management from corporate to departmental to team to individual — with an increase in the more ad-hoc social networks.
  • Recognition
    Let’s face it, recognition feels good and there is a reason! Recognition provides feedback or acknowledgement to people that their efforts are appreciated and have made a difference. A well designed intranet allows recognition to show up either on a homepage or a My Site, which serves to help authenticate someone’s value proposition and expertise in a certain area. That may help them connect with others or be asked for help, which further reinforces their perception that they matter.
  • User experience
    People have an enormous tolerance for bad user experiences, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to waste their time. In fact, messy site structures, inconsistent navigation systems and poorly written content not only are the number one causes for employee disorientation (online), but they also reflect poorly on the company’s brand and leave the impression that the organization doesn’t have its s%#t together. The real secret to optimizing usability comes from a long-term dedication and investment from people who care about improving it. The design and implementation is your chance to start it off right, but the real value is gained once it’s live and has a chance to evolve. Some might argue that usability doesn’t drive engagement, but it clearly helps avoid disengagement!

Source: Habañero Blog

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