2014-09-September-Donkey-Kong-Real-Life.jpgSince the early days of intranets, people-related processes and transactions have been one of the main use cases for the intranet. Employee self-service has helped to save real money with intranets improving processes, allowing employees to view payslips, book annual leave, select training and much more.

Too often, however, the HR section of the intranet feels more like a collection of links to other systems than a coherent and consistent digital experience. Leading organizations are now choosing a different path, by focusing on extensive integration with other systems to elevate the intranet user experience around HR processes and transactions.

This not only improves efficiencies and reduce costs, but also makes the employee aware of critical HR information around pay and benefits, recognition and more.

Several of the entries in this year’s Intranet Innovation Awards demonstrated the benefits of improving the user experience for HR intranets.

The Intranet Innovation Awards, organized by Step Two Designs, are global awards which celebrate innovation and new thinking in the intranet space which deliver value for organizations and employees. The Awards is different to other intranet competitions in that it celebrates highly specific innovative aspects of design, approach or functionality.

Running for the past eight years, this year’s global judging panel includes recognized intranet experts, such as James Robertson (Australia), Martin White (UK), Sam Marshall (UK), Ellen Van Aken (Netherlands) and Laraine King (US).

Integrating With Other Systems

The new approach to HR intranets evidenced in this year’s Awards requires a level of integration between the intranet and other systems which is sophisticated, ambitious and technically challenging.

Gold Award winner Deloitte LLP succeeded in achieving this with its “Talent on Demand” HR portal, available via the organization’s intranet. Deloitte LLP is a professional services firm, and the US member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

Talent on Demand gives a user-centered view of everything an employee needs to know and do relating to HR. There is integration with nearly 20 different systems including learning, HR system, telecommunications, time and expenses system, the firm’s social network, the recognition system and many more.


The ability to chat to an HR professional is incorporated within Talent on Demand. Screenshot courtesy of Deloitte LLP and Step Two Designs

The result is that employees can carry out a vast amount of HR processes from within the Talent on Demand area. There is also personalized information alerts, displayed prominently in a tile format.

What distinguishes Deloitte LLP’s HR intranet from similar environments is the extent of the integration and the attention to detail. In the first nine months or so since launch there were ten new releases with additional features and enhancements, and there is a consistent and easy-to-use structure.

The team have also worked hard to present content on different processes so an employee knows all the things they need to do for example if they get married and choose to change their name.

An additional innovative feature is the ability to chat with an HR professional via a tool in the page header from any page within Talent on Demand, ensuring that employees can ask a question exactly at the point they need to within the context of the information already presented to them.

HR Dashboards

Another direction of travel for the HR sections of intranets is to create a single personalized dashboard view of the key people-centered information across different systems. This not only saves time by surfacing pertinent data and acting as a launching pad for transactions, but also helps to create awareness of some of the lesser known HR systems and information which might get “lost” in traditional navigation.

Telstra is an Australian telecommunications and information services company with approximately 40,000 employees. The organization embarked on a project to create an HR portal to improve processes, deliver better employee self-service and create awareness of key HR services, benefits and information.


The top section of Telstra’s HR dashboard called the “Me” page. Employees need to click on “Show Pay” to reveal sensitive pay data. Screenshot courtesy of Telstra and Step Two Designs

The project team originally envisaged a hierarchical information architecture, but in the research phase concluded that a dashboard view would better meet their aims of reducing HR calls from employees and raising awareness of benefits information and HR services.

Telstra’s “Me” page -- an entry commended by the judges in this year’s Awards -- is beautifully designed and features information on pay, annual leave, timesheets, company shares, employee recognition and more. It even suggests other positions within the company to consider based on your role.

Telstra’s HR dashboard also included a couple of innovative details worthy of note. First, there's an integrated Yammer feed, an unusual feature on a dashboard view. Second, sensitive data which reveals an individual’s pay is obscured by default and the user needs to click on a “Show Pay” button to reveal it. This is so the page can be visited confidently in the open office environment where an employee may not wish to risk colleagues accidentally glimpsing this information.

Although it only launched in the Summer, Telstra reports that the dashboard is already proving a success with good adoption rates, a reduction to calls to the HR call center, and improvements to processes such as completing timesheets.


Another people-related process where the intranet can add value is through the onboarding process for new employees. The first few months when an employee joins can often be complex with many new things to learn. It’s also when an employee may be most likely to leave.

A clear onboarding process not only can help individuals get organized, save time and avoid being overwhelmed, but also feel connected with their new employer. Critically for organizations, it can also reduce employee turnover. Given the benefits of onboarding, it is surprising that more organizations do not focus their attention to this area.

NNE Pharmaplan, a global engineering and consulting company within the life science industry, is headquartered in Denmark and has approximately 2,000 employees. The organization won a Gold Award for its “Navigate” global onboarding solution, which is helping the firm achieve its ambitions for growth and in accelerating performance by both reducing employee turnover and getting new hires up to speed with new skills and knowledge. The solution design and its content is closely aligned to the firm’s strategic goals, and the firm are monitoring related KPIs to ensure Navigate’s success.


The control room for Mission 2 of Navigate, NNE Pharmaplan’s global onboarding system. Screenshot courtesy of NNE Pharmaplan and Step Two Designs

The onboarding solution presents three different “missions” for employees which are taken at different stages of an individual’s first 90 days at the company. Each mission has a number of themed modules featuring videos, written materials, e-learning, quizzes and other features. There is also an “exam” at the end of each mission.

“Navigate” features extensive integration with the intranet, LMS, HR system and also the corporate website. Not only is it rare to find a consistent digital onboarding delivered on this scale, but there is a mixture of local and global information. New hires also start Mission 1 before their first day by visiting an area on the corporate website.

Gentle gamification elements such as a mission “Control Room” also helps to create engagement and keep the tone fun and light.

What’s the Next Step for HR Portals?

We’re wondering what the next step for HR intranets will be. How will they adapt to the mobile environment? Will “big data” start to display more personalized information for employees? We’re hoping that the 2015 Intranet Innovation Awards will reveal the next generation of HR intranets and another set of innovations.

Title image by Janusz's Rumpelkiste (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC 2.0 license