Office worker, angry at corporate intranet, punching through laptop monitor
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Anyone with a few years in corporate under their belt has heard this tale before. The company has brought in a modern, user-friendly, socially-enabled intranet solution, and corporate comms management has ensured everyone it will help bridge the gap between departments, break down silos, allow intellectual capital and assets to be transferred across business lines, and be generally liked and adopted as well as Facebook, but within the company.

You, as a good soldier and supportive employee, followed the links to check it out on launch day, sign in, upload a work-appropriate picture, set up some interest and expertise tags, and wait for the influx of thousands of employees to begin this new experiment in a socially-connected corporate environment.

Trouble is…it doesn’t happen. You check back in a few days, then in a few weeks, then in a few months, mostly to find that holiday schedule you keep losing, and for all those contact numbers for your sales team. But you never see all those employees there, talking, sharing, connecting, in the way the solution was intended for them to do.

So what is going on? Intranets have come a long way since they were little more than a place to house HR material and find phone numbers. Just look at Fuse from Catapult, and others like them, which offers service-oriented intranet solutions, providing a unified front-door for Office 365 that make for a quick-to-install, user-centric solution.

This isn’t just about internal corporate optics, it’s important to the business. In fact, McKinsey found that by improving communication and collaboration through social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent.

What can you do to ensure broad adoption of your intranet solution that you spent so much time, money and effort creating? What are some of the reasons employees are not adopting intranet solutions you put so much work into? Here are six tips to ensure you get the most return on your investment.

Employees Don’t Know It’s There…(and they don’t know or understand it’s value)

Roll-out day is not the only day that people in your company should hear about your intranet solution. Consider onboarding new employees with a tour of the application on their first day. What employees really want to know is not just that the software exists, but how the technology can solve a problem or clear a roadblock for them. It’s important to share with employees how they would benefit from the intranet and how will it make their lives/jobs easier to use.

Information is Outdated

How often have you seen company databases, search solutions, and internal wikis that are out of date and not maintained or scrubbed? For many, it’s a regular occurrence. Maintaining the intranet from day one, keeping phone numbers up to date, scrubbing old and bad data from it, are all very important parts of ensuring employees buy-in to the platform and demonstrate that it wasn’t just pushed into the corner after roll-out day.

Poor Search and Navigation

Have you heard? Home pages are dead, navigation is secondary, and everyone finds everything through search. In fact, McKinsey found that employees spend 9.3 hours every week searching for documents. Ok, we’ve all come to accept that search is primary now, but what if your internal search solution isn’t cutting it?

A robust, intuitive, easy-to-use search app is foundational in all good intranets. Oh, and if for some reason the search isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, navigation still matters. Don’t skimp on making information findable for your employees.

Lack of Executive Ownership

Let’s face it, nothing major gets done, adopted or integrated into a company without someone high up the food chain behind it. Having consistent executive presence on your intranet is critical to showing the organization the collaboration tool is a priority that people are expected to use.

It’s also worth the effort to try and get employee advocates involved in the solution as early adopters, perhaps people with more social media and digital background, which can help populate and promote the technology along with senior management.

Generic or Poor Training

There are all different types of employees, and all different levels of comfort and skill with social media and digital tools. Some people will take to it like a fish to water; others will find your Intranet just as annoying as Twitter. It is important to customize training for different segments of employees, based on job type, skill level, and with people broken out into appropriate groups, so more experienced employees don’t become disinterested.

Lack of Timeline for Launches, Updates

Whether you are launching the whole package in a day, or have more of a stepped launch process, you want a public timeline that people in the company can see the changes that are coming. This will allow people in turn to start to rethink their own processes, how the Intranet can enable them, and feel more connected and have more ownership of the platform when it does go live.

Intranets Impacting the Daily Workflow

The intranet should be the front door for all employees within a company, a place where they log into daily, and log out of every night. A place to find company news, share ideas, share assets, make connections, dissolve silos, and empower your employees to enhance their productivity. And it can be all those things, if organizations don’t fall prey to the common trappings that accompany the bringing in of new enterprise software or setting up new corporate-wide processes.

Nothing can replace good communication, planning, ownership, training, maintenance and user-centric functionality. Don’t let all that time, money and installation effort be undermined by not paying attention to the things that will actually enable success and company-wide adoption.