Embracing the Power of Employee Intranets in Modern Organizations

Lisa Ardill

Content Editor at Workvivo

16 Aug 2023

Modern organizations need modern tools that streamline operations, productivity, and engagement – all in a user-friendly interface that employees actually want to use.

It’s a tall order, that’s for sure.

When you hear the term ‘employee intranet’, the first word that comes to mind probably isn’t ‘modern’. If anything, you’re picturing an outdated employee homepage or intranet portal, one that everyone knows no one uses. 

But modern employee intranets do things differently. They’re full of powerful collaboration tools and social features that deliver a completely new user experience – and drive powerful results for your business.

So try to shake off whatever bad memories you have of intranets from decades past, and let’s explore what a modern employee intranet can do for you.

What is an employee intranet?

An employee intranet is a private or limited web platform a company uses to host files, share information, and organize content for its employees.

A traditional intranet looks a lot like the internet, but it’s a smaller, more focused sharepoint that’s limited to members of your organization. It’s used for knowledge sharing, knowledge management, and document management.

Employee intranets typically serve as a centralized platform for accessing information exclusive to the organization’s members. By giving team members a central hub for knowledge, training, storage, and more, employee intranets enhance employee engagement, understanding, and knowledge. Which, in turn, improves overall efficiency and performance.

Curious about what employee intranets look like in action? Check out some of our favorite company intranet examples.

Traditional intranet vs. social intranet

A traditional intranet looks like a business-oriented website or employee directory. It tends to be an impersonal place where employees can find the information they need – and that’s about it. 

It may also be used for internal communications, company news, and employee contact info. Some employee onboarding programs for new hires are also hosted on a company’s intranet platform.

Social intranets do all of that, but they also add a key missing ingredient: social features. They offer an internal company social feed where employees can post updates, commend coworkers, and more. 

With a social intranet, businesses can share new posts and announcements in a fluid social context where employees are already spending time. But using a traditional intranet, that same post gets pinned on a boring announcement board located somewhere people only go when they need something specific.

Social intranets increase usage, which boosts employee engagement and employee education simultaneously.

Benefits of adopting an employee intranet

There are all sorts of reasons to adopt an employee intranet – especially a social intranet like Workvivo. Here are just a few reasons to consider.

Simple communication

Intranets simplify communication by providing real-time updates, instant messaging, and announcement features. We’ve all had the experience of literally missing the memo. That one key detail that got buried in the email avalanche or was at the end of an email that didn’t seem all that relevant.

The truth is, email just isn’t the best option for certain types of communications, like crucial announcements or memos that employees might need to refer back to.

By streamlining communication channels around a social intranet, your organization can accomplish quicker decision-making. You’ll also see improved employee engagement, as repeat visits to a destination employees want to use reinforces both the social and the informational side of your intranet.

Centralized document hub

Employee intranets also serve as centralized document repositories, ensuring easy access and sharing of essential files. 

Your business already has some kind of file structure or document-sharing solution in place, but access and version control can be big problems. By storing your documents on a modern intranet like Workvivo, you gain a better way to administer rights and version control is baked in.

Positive, collaborative work culture

Employee intranets foster a positive company culture by promoting transparency and inclusivity. When everyone can learn about each other using informative profile-style experiences, transparency increases.

What’s more, in addition to the employee directory, a modern intranet comes with accessibility and translation features. This means everyone can be included, regardless of different abilities, neurodiverse conditions, or primary language.

Key features that make employee intranets useful

Most organizations don’t build an intranet from scratch. (And most of the ones that do probably shouldn’t!) As you evaluate available intranet solutions, including Workvivo’s social intranet, look for these key features.

Employee engagement tools

First up is employee engagement tools. These vary quite a bit from provider to provider. Some traditional intranet solutions don’t offer much of anything that looks like employee engagement. More modern solutions might offer survey and poll functionality.

Social recognition features (such as a mechanism for sending congratulations or public praise to a coworker) can go a long way. So can an actual social feed, like the one you’ll find in Workvivo.

The right employee engagement tools will encourage active participation and feedback from employees, leading to improved job satisfaction and motivation. And don’t forget to follow intranet best practices for boosting engagement.

Customization options

With employee intranets, one size definitely does not fit all. Different businesses need different things out of their intranet, and so does each user. What makes sense in one department or for one individual might not be the best solution for another.

Look for an employee intranet that offers the right level of customization. Not so much that the core experience becomes confusing or muddled, but enough that employees can create the intranet experience they want.

Integration with other systems and media

Modern intranet solutions must integrate well with the other systems, tools, and apps you already use. At face value, this makes sense, but the significance goes deeper than you might expect. 

Your younger workers don’t just want the company’s tech to work well together – they expect it. And as many as 16% of millennial and younger employees have actually quit a job because the technology wasn’t providing what they needed!

The best solutions have these integrations already built in – and offer a range of APIs so businesses can build the connections and integrations they need. Workvivo streamlines integration with both of these solutions. We have a library of prebuilt integrations and a suite of APIs available to our customers.

Personalized feeds for employees

The best social intranets feature personalized feeds. These work a lot like a social media network (think Twitter or LinkedIn). 

Each employee’s feed is a personalized location where employees receive relevant news, updates, and content based on their roles and interests. This could look like receiving celebratory or congratulatory updates only on employees within a business unit or tailoring a news feed to include specific affinity groups.

By making the central feed more enjoyable and personalized, businesses can increase the amount of content employees consume and increase engagement at the same time. 

What to consider before setting up an intranet

Setting up an intranet takes time and careful planning. Make sure to work through each of these considerations as you get started.

Your intranet project’s scope and scale

First, it’s absolutely critical to define the scope of your intranet project. How many people will use it? Which departments? What specific business functions will migrate to the intranet, and which ones will stay in their current location?

Remember, one of the points of developing an intranet is to eliminate shadow departments and silos of duplicate or varied information. Defining scope is key to making sure the intranet doesn’t just become another one of these.

You’ll also need to define your implementation scale. Are you deploying this for the entire company or starting with a smaller pilot project (such as a single business unit)?

The goal of the intranet

Before you start the project, make sure to clearly answer this central question: What is your intranet going to do for your business?

If one stakeholder thinks of the new intranet project as a glorified FAQ page while another intends to migrate every last document, the project will be confused – at best. So make sure all stakeholders agree on both the goals and the scope of your intranet project.

Security measures

Cybersecurity awareness is more important than ever, and this is true for intranets as well. If your intranet is to become the home for all your documents, data, and policies, then it needs to be well protected so you can safeguard sensitive information and data.

Well-built modern intranet solutions include robust security protocols. For example, Workvivo includes these cutting-edge security elements:

  • ISO27001 and SOC2 certification
  • Application security
  • Mobile app two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • Password authentication
  • Biometric and passcode authentication

Employee training and support

When you implement a robust and wide-ranging social intranet, it’s going to change the way your team members interact with systems and information. Make sure you show them the way with plenty of training and support.

You’ll need to offer initial training, of course, but ongoing support is also vital. You’re not just changing out some software – you’re changing your workplace culture. That’s going to take some ongoing reinforcement of both how and why to use your new intranet effectively.

Budget and resources for an intranet

Last, be sure to establish a budget and allocate appropriate resources to your intranet project. The intranet software underpinning your new system likely isn’t free, but that’s not the only consideration. 

Consider both the initial setup costs (time, pay, cost of software) and the ongoing ones (licensing, maintenance, possible upgrades). This will ensure that the solution you select aligns with your budgetary constraints.

Workvivo: Your solution to an engaged, collective workforce

If your organization struggles to keep team members engaged and informed, then Workvivo is the social intranet solution you need. 

Workvivo’s powerful all-in-one employee communication platform can transform the employee experience by turning your corporate intranet into a modern tool that makes sense for today’s digital workplace.

The best way to determine whether Workvivo is the solution you need is to see it in action. Get your free Workvivo demo now!