Your intranet is a content-killer. It’s time to return the favor.
The intranet is dead. It should've died a long time ago. 5-10% adoption is not worth the effort.
For years, communicators, HR departments, and anyone who was looking to engage their staff were frustrated by content going unread on their intranet. Most employees never use it and certainly don't read corporate communications on it. The intranet served a purpose ten years ago, but it was never did communications content justice. So why are some still banging their heads against the wall trying to use an engagement approach that has fundamental, unsolvable issues?
On inception, the intranet was ill-suited to be the place for a winning employee engagement program. It was never even the ‘more effective online bulletin board’ that was first hoped for. Here are a few inherent flaws that simply won’t go away with another reboot:
It's a destination, not a service. The first barrier to Intranet engagement is simply getting to it. The Intranet is a destination that must be navigated to from a desktop. It requires a login that’s often subject to arcane security policies, like VPN-only access and other methods that slow down the service and frustrate the user. Think about how you check your social media presence or read your news. Are you sitting down at a desktop and logging into a service that slows down your device? Statistically, it’s likely you are being prompted by a notification on your phone and navigating directly to the content you’re looking to consume.
The typical Intranet is built on a newspaper concept, often replete with a “front page.” This is the same philosophy for building website ‘home pages’ in the first generation of the internet. That was 25 years ago. Intranets are still here; newspapers and catch-all homepages aren’t. All other technology you use today is service-oriented.
It's incapable of “personalization” as we know it. Despite having to personally identify themselves to log in, employees don’t get a personalized experience on the intranet. If you’re required to verify your corporate identity as John Smith, it’s not that hard to provide an experience that tailored to John Smith. Yet communicators settle for an experience that is both cumbersome and impersonal.
It’s key to note that personalization extends beyond information curation – ie, making sure the news and documents you see are relevant to you. That’s table stakes. Today, “personalization” includes prioritization, alerts, and smart suggestions. If there’s a corporate deadline you’re about to miss – like for benefits enrollment, or security policy compliance – you should be alerted in an appropriately aggressive way (if the deadline is super-important, you get a push notification, etc). If there’s a piece of news that your peers are engaging with, it should be prioritized for your reading; the presentation of news content should be dynamic.
These are all common features in other software. It’s an expectation people have of their consumer market services. Why do we tolerate intranets’ inability to do any of this?
It doesn’t maximize potential readership of communications content. As a medium for corporate communications and content meant to engage employees, intranets miss one critical philosophical imperative: employees don’t go out and seek nonessential corporate content. Sometimes they don’t care about what the communications team is writing; sometimes they only care about getting their jobs done. This attitude is OK. The communications professional’s job is to create content that will grab their attention and make them read; the intranet’s job is to get the employees’ eyeballs on the content so they can be enticed in the first place.
Consider this: if an employee knows the intranet as the place she has to go to find corporate news and some HR info, she doesn’t have a compelling reason to go there. If the intranet were a place that helped prioritize their work, let them complete small administrative tasks quickly, and prompted the employee with stuff they needed to do – wouldn’t they be much more likely to log in? And then they’d see the great content that comms pros were making?
This is the nail in the coffin of the intranet: it fails to get people in the door and wastes the efforts of the communications team. Why bother creating anything worthwhile or engaging when it’s dead on arrival? If you’re asking your comms team to create more video content on the intranet this year, ask them to print out and post screenshots of the video on a poster board. It’ll make the same impact and waste less time.
Post-intranet engagement plans
Removing the intranet as the medium of choice for communications content leaves a void. We still need a place to engage employees. Over last few years, communicators have figured out that personal mobile devices are the medium that’s giving their content the best shot. A mobile employee app seems to be the remedy for most of the issues we’ve detailed about the intranet, from greater personalization to engaging deskless/email-less workers and showing staff you care about employee experience. The right mobile employee app is ready to step in and do what the intranet couldn’t – get people engaged with your content and make real progress on employee engagement.
If you’re ready to join the mobile revolution, let me know. Otherwise, for the love of your content: kill your intranet!