11 Intranet Best Practices to Boost Engagement

Anthony Cotter

Creative Director

17 Feb 2023

Not everyone loves their employee intranet. 

Perhaps you can identify with the frustration of having spent thousands on legacy intranet setup and support, only to have your employees ignore it. Unfortunately, adoption is one of the main challenges companies face with their intranet software. Many end up sitting on the shelf collecting dust.

But that doesn’t mean intranets aren’t useful – far from it!

The key is to find a modern intranet that’s easy and fun to use, and then make sure employees are actually using it.

If you’re struggling with an inflexible, unintuitive intranet, it may be time to change to a modern social intranet solution. In this article, we’ll outline 11 best practices to help you get the most from your intranet by using a modern solution that delivers results.

1. Make it modern

Our first tip is simple: make sure your intranet is up to date.

Early intranets were little more than lists of links. A 1996 article in BusinessWeek describes a company intranet consisting of “more than two dozen corporate databases that employees can traverse by clicking on bright-blue hyperlinks”.

In today’s world, though, intranets include more features like document management and corporate bulletins.

The most forward-thinking intranets are built for an increasingly remote and hybrid workforce that is only getting younger, coming with a social experience where users can like, share, and comment on content.

Crucial features for any intranet today are:

  • Social media-like aspects
  • Modern design
  • Seamless user experience

An intranet needs to have a modern interface that looks like other technologies employees interact with regularly. Common complaints about legacy intranets include ‘poor user experience’ and ‘stale, outdated content’. Most employees do not want to use dated software, so they avoid doing so when given the chance. In fact, a full 16% of those in this cohort have actually quit a job due to inadequate employer technology. 

A modern user experience built with the end user in mind is key to increasing intranet adoption.

Besides being easy to use, a modern intranet should be flexible enough to meet the needs of your specific company (no matter how quickly or drastically those needs may change).

A startup or SMB will have different needs and requirements than a larger organization. Modern intranets should also be designed to meet the needs of remote workers – namely, ease of remote access and security. More on that below.

2. Use the right platform

‘Make it modern’ is the right place to start, and we’ve explained some of our vision for what ‘modern’ should look like.

But even if you eliminate from consideration all the legacy intranet solutions (and the new-ish ones that are stuck in the legacy mold), your choice in platform still makes a massive difference in your intranet experience.

Intranets vary in their ability to deliver true collaboration. Every platform fosters and encourages communication in its own unique way. As a result, their usefulness for disseminating important news varies, too.

Remember: if 90% of your people aren’t checking the intranet, then they aren’t seeing the news that gets posted there.

Workvivo strikes the optimal balance by delivering a social intranet experience.

Your team can still access the information they need when they need it thanks to:

  • Comprehensive search
  • Clear areas for documents
  • Spaces for initiatives of all types

But they also gain a social feed of company news, employee achievements, accolades from peers, and more. It’s an intranet experience with social elements that keep your employees coming back and increasing their engagement.

If you’re ready to cut to the chase and start exploring the best social intranet platform out there (in our humble but accurate opinion!), request your Workvivo demo today.

3. Develop an intranet strategy with realistic goals and milestones

Developing and deploying a truly effective intranet will never happen overnight.

It’s a process that takes time and absolutely must be directed. Building a roadmap of your goals and milestones helps your business craft a plan to get from where you are today to where you want to be in terms of intranet strategy.

What those goals and that timeline should look like is unique to your circumstances. 

But to help get you started, here are some questions to ask that can help define those goals in your own context and culture:

  • What do you want your intranet to accomplish for employees? Is it just for knowledge acquisition, or does it need to encompass social elements, training and onboarding capabilities, collaboration tools, or anything else a modern intranet can deliver?
  • What steps can ensure your intranet is reasonably future-proof? Some solutions are inflexible and outdated at the moment of install. Others, like Workvivo, grow and evolve with you.
  • What does delivery look like? When do you hope to go live? Will everything migrate all at once, or will you work in phases?

4. Apply best practices to your intranet homepage and navigation

The homepage is the first part of your intranet a user will see. It should immediately draw them in and encourage browsing. The user should get a high-level, compact overview of only the most relevant information and most recent news and events. 

A successful intranet will do all of this with excellent usability.

So resist allowing your homepage to become cluttered with unimportant information.

Many legacy intranet solutions have a cluttered homepage that overwhelms the user when they first log in. If the user is not immediately engaged, they’re unlikely to continue using the software. Modern intranets need a ‘smart homepage’, customized to the individual user and engaging them with social features.

On the Workvivo platform homepage, users can immediately see:

  • Updates from their colleagues
  • Company news
  • Upcoming events

Navigation and the layout of the rest of the intranet is just as important. It should be immediately clear what each page is about, and what you can do on that page.

For example, in the Goals section of Workvivo, you can browse all the organization’s goals, create a new goal, or search for a specific goal. The copy on each of our pages is short, sweet, and to-the-point. It guides the user through the software with little effort on their part.

If your intranet is currently outdated and difficult to navigate, it could be time to update it too. Users need to be able to find their way around your intranet with ease. 

This means having a search function that works well, and an intuitive structure that doesn’t need a lot of training to figure out.

Using a social intranet resolves many of these challenges. Users are ‘fed’ information automatically via a newsfeed, without the need for excessive or convoluted navigation around the site. If your staff knows how to use social media, they’ll be able to use software like Workvivo.

5. Optimize your intranet for remote work

Remote work is no longer the future; it’s happening right now. And it isn’t going away anytime soon. The COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst, but it’s clear that remote and hybrid work is an expectation for many in the knowledge economy, not a perk.

Given these realities, an intranet that’s geared toward on-premises, physically proximate employees no longer makes sense.

Instead, an intranet that’s optimized for remote work is essential. The first place to start is to make sure the software is easy to access without the need for a corporate device. Cloud-based (SaaS) software like Workvivo enables employees to access your intranet anywhere, from any device.

Your intranet’s design should meet the specific challenges of remote teams. Many of these are communication-related. Some remote employees report feeling ‘Zoom fatigue’ (exhaustion from many video-based meetings). Others may be grappling with worry, sadness, stress, loneliness or anxiety.

Bottom line?

Many of the tools we rely on just weren’t designed for today’s remote and hybrid workplaces. They still allow people to get stuff done, but they don’t help them to flourish.

To thrive in a digital-first workplace environment, companies must find a way to keep everyone informed, engaged, and connected to the company culture, values, goals, and to each other, wherever they are.

A modern intranet can help you deal with these challenges. When used as the digital office where communication flows through, the asynchronous nature where people can consume at their own pace builds deeper connections with less distractions.

6. Choose an intranet that’s mobile-friendly

Given the transitions we’ve all gone through in the last half decade, organizations should find an intranet that is not only mobile-friendly but also offers a dedicated app.

Being mobile-friendly is no longer optional.

More web traffic comes from mobile devices than desktops. People aren’t tied to their desks anymore; sometimes not even to their workstations.

If you want your intranet to be used every day, meet your employees where they’re at and make sure they can access it on their phones and tablets. Go one step further and choose an intranet with a dedicated mobile app, just like your employees check Facebook or Instagram via an app rather than a mobile browser. 

You want them to think of their social intranet as an experience or destination, not just something to log into when they need a knowledge base article.

Employees can access Workvivo using an Android or iOS app.

Rather than just a mobile version of an intranet designed for desktop, the Workvivo app is truly mobile-first. Your employees will be able to chat with their colleagues and view important announcements anytime, anywhere.

7. Build a healthy work culture using your intranet

An intranet can do great things for your company culture with the correct implementation. Intranets are all about communication, and healthy communication is one of the cornerstones of a strong corporate culture.

There are many different ways you can use your intranet to supercharge your culture. Everyone in your company will stay informed through consistent posts on the intranet.

But it can be so much more than information sharing!

Once you have your workplace communication in good shape, the next step in building a great place to work is to focus on boosting engagement.

You can (and should) use your intranet to:

  • Organize group activities
  • Create interest groups
  • Grow micro-communities
  • Foster a sense of connection and belonging in your company.

Not only that, but modern intranets that are built for the hybrid workplace have the ability to facilitate peer-to-peer kudos to make public employee recognition a cornerstone of your culture.

Recognition is an important factor in employee engagement and building trust. People simply do better work when they feel appreciated.

Workvivo has a unique feature that can help strengthen your culture by associating content you post on the intranet with specific company values. This gives you a tangible way to show how team members are living your values each day.

8. Use it as the ‘go-to’ channel for company communication

The old game was where companies used to have intranets and internal communication as two separate tools (and two separate line items in a budget). It was the right call for the time, because ‘complete’ employee communication hubs just didn’t exist. You had to go with point solutions to make sure you got the job done. 

Enter the new game.

The all-in-one employee experience platform that caters to both and more; workplace comms, workplace engagement, and a modern intranet all can live under one centralized roof.

What’s not to like?

Streamlining all different types of internal communication alongside classic intranet content and use-cases in one place results in a communication experience that’s easier to manage, easier to use, and simply works.

Want to know the secret to ensuring your employees read company-wide critical communications you post on your intranet?

Make sure it sits at the core of everything they do.

That means making sure it seamlessly integrates with your existing tools. The Slacks, Teams, and Zooms of the world. Build this unified experience, and you’re going to make your intranet the beating heart of your digital workspace.

9. Make it social!

Old intranets were top-down broadcasting tools only. They never facilitated bottom-up communication, where a bi-directional flow of comms could amplify all the good things happening in the organization.

The workforce is only getting younger, and they expect a familiar consumer-like experience where they can like, comment, share, and do all of the things they normally do on social media.

They don’t want to use old clunky intranets. They just won’t buy into platforms that don’t create a good user experience.

This is why social intranets are key. Employees naturally engage with the social, consumer-grade experience. That means intranets are not only able to facilitate the top-down communication you’d expect, but can enable a more democratized, flat approach where silos and barriers are completely broken down.

Lastly, by choosing a platform built for the 2020s of work and not 20 years ago, your CEO and senior leadership team are going to thank you.

Know why?

Because they want a direct line of communication to every employee without having to jump through hoops to get a message across. With no barriers, they get authentic interaction that paints a true reflection of their company’s work environment.

Social first intranets are the future of internal communications. Everything else is doomed to shake across the desert like a tumbleweed.

10. Aim for secure and scalable communications

In the past, some professionals saw cloud-based software as riskier than on-premise software, but these assumptions are changing.

Just as important as security is scalability: an intranet that cannot scale is an intranet that you will inevitably outgrow.

Workvivo is ISO27001 and SOC2 certified. We always track our security position and have conducted extensive testing to make sure our software is safe. Safety and scalability are top priorities for us.

Choosing a social intranet is also a smart decision for privacy reasons. Keeping communications within the intranet (rather than on a broader social network) helps employees set a boundary between work and home. This will make them feel more comfortable and encourage more participation.

11. Measure employee engagement

Employee engagement is one key way to measure the health of your company culture, but what metrics do you use?

With a modern social intranet, gauging employee engagement is nearly automatic.

Workvivo is the perfect solution for gauging employee engagement: its familiar social experience is easy and inviting for employees. Workvivo helps you promote a culture of peer recognition via public shoutouts for individuals and teams.

Workvivo also supports social common interest groups:

  • Do you have a lot of people biking to work?
  • Hiking on the weekends?
  • Interested in a particular niche like podcasting or digital marketing?

Common interest groups allow like-minded team members to find each other and engage on the topics they’re passionate about.

Why is this important?

Because that next workplace disagreement looks a lot different when the two parties have regularly bonded over their shared love for mountain biking or green living or video games.

Engagement matters. And Workvivo is the place both to foster it and measure it.

Why organizations choose workvivo

Organizations looking to ensure success and engagement with their intranet are turning to Workvivo for a new approach to the social intranet. And it’s working for them.

That’s because intranet best practices are baked into the design and functionality of Workvivo.

Workvivo has dedicated teams for every part of the customer journey, and our customer success and customer experience managers have been described as an extension of our clients’ own teams.

What’s more, the customer experience teams in Workvivo continue to work with customers after their platform has launched. Our CX agents regularly send out updates, news, guides on how to use particular features, and more.

During times of crisis or critical communications, features like push notifications help organizations get the most out of the platform as a reliable tool for company-wide updates. Workvivo also offers a wealth of integration capabilities that simplify your tech stack, making your workload easier to manage and giving teams a user-friendly digital experience.

On the lookout for a new intranet?

Transitioning your intranet to a modern social intranet solution delivers results. It helps employees engage, learn, and grow – on the device they want to use and in the ways they want to use it.

Not only that, Workvivo can directly boost ROI. By improving engagement and morale, you’ll reduce turnover, increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism. These have direct cost benefits.


Ready to implement these best practices using a better social intranet? Workvivo is ready when you are. Request your free demo now!

11-Intranet-Best-Practices2 (1).png