In Intranet Benefits for Human Resource Management, we highlighted the benefits that intranets could play for HR departments. Today we continue our discussion with some of the basic scenarios for HR leveraging an enterprise intranet and the benefits that are delivered.

1. Intranet as a Team Member

To begin with, the HR manager can really think of the intranet as an employee in his department. First, the intranet needs to be taught -- familiarized with daily routines, information about employee duties, and perhaps, how to automate some of them. This ‘training period’ quickly pays off, as it will no longer be necessary to tell employees individually how to arrange their next holiday or to explain how a recent paycheck was calculated.

Empirically speaking, the intranet reduces staffing costs in the HR department via the reduction of time HR staff spends advising personnel concerning routine activities, allowing them to concentrate on solving higher value tasks, such as screening new hires or enhancing corporate culture.

In practice, the intranet portal allows automation of all the typical scenarios of interaction between the HR department and employees. To arrange a business trip, fill in the ready-made form, to take a couple of days off, just sign the template of the pre-made declaration and it is sent automatically. Of course, sometimes staff will have to give individual attention to employee issues, but in most cases, enough information and interaction will be provided through the intranet -- a fact that will delight HR, as well as other departments.

2. Intranet as a Time Machine

The work of the HR department is not only to serve the needs of employees, but also, where possible, to increase their productivity. It is important to teach the staff the basics of time management.

Let’s illustrate the topic with a simple example. Imagine a hair salon with one stylist and two clients who walk in at the same time -- a young man who has just joined the military (a 10-minute job) and women who wants a perm (2 hours). The work at hand will take 2 hours and 10 minutes in any case, from the point of view of the stylist. But for the clients, the order in which service is provided will determine whether someone has to wait 10 minutes or 2 hours.

Many similar, though much more subtle, scenarios occur in any organization. Hours can be spent waiting for an answer to an urgent message when in fact the recipient is in a meeting with an important client. It is therefore essential that staff be informed about each other's schedules, vacations, sick leave, etc.

Intranets normally have a set of ready functions for time management. Sharing and synchronization among the company’s primary calendar, individual and group calendars and Microsoft Outlook allow employees to see the activity of their colleagues in real time and properly plan operations.

It is equally important that the intranet not only gather information, but also allow analysis. With a few clicks, HR managers can have an idea of how much time staff spends at their desks, in meetings, on business trips, etc. Ultimately, a better understanding of time usage allows more efficient business processes to be developed without forcing the company to make any significant financial investments.

3. Intranet as a Conductor of Corporate Ideas

A company can be thought of as a small, independent state. It has its own symbols, boundaries, and authority, and it is governed by its management staff. Like any state, the company creates rules for its citizens (employees), thus forming its own corporate culture. In this context, the task of human resources is to raise company spirit among employees, making them true patriots.

The Intranet can perform very important roles in this capacity, even being the primary tool for building corporate culture. Experience shows that if employees go to the intranet at least once a day, you can be sure that the news on the front page will not be overlooked. Using the intranet, it is easy to convey any information to all employees, even without an exact list of names and even if they themselves are never gathered in a single place.

Corporate culture can be advanced through the intranet in a number of ways. First, basic information about the company -- its history, mission and major accomplishments can be posted and available to everyone. This provides a common framework for understanding the company and its evolution among staff.

The intranet is also the ideal media for periodic content: corporate news, analytical materials and press articles. A highly effective tool in this vein is a blog kept by company management, which reduces the distance between the top and staff, increasing the motivation and involvement of the latter.