intranets, employee enagement, social business The adage “build it and they will come” has never rung true for intranets. Many intranets built with the best intentions fall into disuse for lack of employee engagement. But it does not need to be that way.

Intranets can be the vibrant social hub for organizations, particularly in today’s business world where many organizations need to collaborate across national and international locations. With the rise of telecommuting and an increasingly remote workforce, and with the omnipresence of social networking tools changing employee expectations, the intranet has never been a more important tool. Your business intranet should be the central community that informs and engages employees, while automating key business processes.

So the question is not whether to invest in an intranet, it is, how can you increase employee engagement within your intranet? While every organization has unique requirements, the following best practices can improve any enterprise intranet.

Measure It and They Will Come

If you are not measuring your intranet usage and defining a set of relevant KPIs (key performance indicators), you simply will not improve the intranet experience. While analytics and measurement alone will not improve your intranet, they will provide you the visibility to understand the current usage and to track your progress as you roll out new content and services.

Some key metrics to track include:

  • Percentage of employees visiting the intranet weekly
  • Total number of visits
  • Duration of visits
  • Devices accessing the intranet
  • Most popular pages and documents

Editor's Note: Also read: How Analytics Can Support Intranet Management

Engage Outside the Walled Garden

You should not only expect employees to come to the intranet; you should make the intranet come to the employee. By syndicating information and notifying users, you can encourage more participation in the intranet.

Email notification and activity roll-ups are a great way to reach out to employees. By allowing employees to follow different topics, work areas, or documents, and then sending a notification when these items are updated or changed, employees become much more engaged. You can also generate activity roll-ups sent weekly by email. Similar to the email you may receive from LinkedIn and other social networks, these weekly roll-ups communicate what is new and relevant to the employee in the intranet.

Enterprise Search

Intranets demand utility. People come to the intranet to find information or to execute a business process. While information architecture and design are critical to making information discoverable, search is a key tool that employees use to find information in the enterprise. 

Intranet search should provide the following capabilities:

  • Search web content and documents showing relevant keyword matches and highlighting text
  • Federated search across external databases, file systems, and websites
  • Filtered search results based on employee access level and permissions
  • Faceted search to narrow and expand search results based category, content type, age, and other metadata

Gamification and Leader Boards

Who are your intranet heroes? Which people deliver the most expertise and contribute the most often? Gamification provides strategies to allow users to earn points or badges for their intranet activity. Leader boards provide positive feedback for employees that gain the most points, or contribute most frequently. Beyond social analytics, gamification also allows organizations to surface subject matter experts across the organization and expand internal knowledge management by capturing those employee insights within the intranet application.