8 Reasons Why Intranets Fail to Engage Employees

Stuart Sinclair - September 27, 2019

Are you ready to face facts? The traditional intranet fails to deliver in the light of modern expectations. They’re desktop-based systems, whose primary task is to store documents. But today’s workforce operates in a more connected environment. One that expects internal communication to engage them in a way that makes for a meaningful experience.

Intranets fail because they can’t reach most employees. This leads to poor (and sometimes non-existent) user experiences. People don’t want to have to be tied to a desktop to connect to the intranet.

And when they get onto the intranet, they’re frustrated with poor user interface, confusing menus and bloated, inflexible systems. If you can’t deliver a meaningful and pleasurable user experience through your internal comms, employees feel disconnected.

Successful internal communications come down to strong connections

Connections mean engagement and engagement shows that staff aren’t just absorbing information, they’re acting upon it. Unlike intranets, modern employee communications applications specialise in creating connections and reinforcing engagement.

Here are 8 reasons why your intranet fails to create those connections and engage employees:

1.     Your business is agile

67% of small businesses offer some form of flexible work arrangements. It’s also a popular perk within enterprise-level operations. This is because flexible working is proving to be a more productive and satisfying option for the modern workplace.

But, in adopting this new way of working, the traditional tools start to lose their efficacy.

Flexible and remote workers often struggle to access and engage with their intranet because they’re in the office less of the time.

Businesses who take advantage of flexible working, or whose operation requires remote workers, need an internal communications solution that’s accessible anywhere.

Unlike the traditional intranet, employee communications apps are native to smartphones and similar devices. This makes them more accessible to staff on the go.

2.     Your internal communications strategy lacks some key elements

Creating an internal communications strategy helps your organisation speak with a consistent voice. It also makes sure that employees have a clear view of the business vision, its direction, and their role in that journey.

If your employees are failing to engage with your intranet, it’s a telling sign that your strategy is missing some essential elements:

  • A means for measuring results
  • A forum for sourcing employee sentiment and feedback
  • A system of reviewing and updating content

These three aspects have one thing in common: data. And acquiring and interpreting data (whether that’s employee opinions or intranet page views) costs time and money.

Many intranets lack the means to effectively collate this data at all, let alone present that information in a report with actionable insights.

And if they can, these features may be being overlooked. This means these crucial elements are often left out of an internal communications strategy.

Without tracking trends and success, it’s hard to judge whether your staff are engaging with your content. You also can’t make changes that will improve the user experience.

The result? An intranet that’s totally out of touch with your staff.

3.     Budgets are holding you back

Intranet upgrades are an investment in time, money, and resources. And, since many senior-level stakeholders don’t understand the link between internal communications and profitability, that budget isn’t coming any time soon. The older the intranet is, the more intensive the work becomes.

Developing a solution that allows your intranet to become relevant to your employees is often a huge undertaking. At the rate at which consumer tastes change and technology advances, it could turn into a project that never ends.

Before investing, communicators need to thoroughly research the benefits of developing new functionality against a new communications platform that includes a suite of modern features.

4.     Intranets don’t play well on mobile

The main problem with an intranet is its inability to operate in the modern age. And in a world where user experience is more important than ever, the delivery method of internal communication is crucial.

A 2017 Gallup survey revealed that 43% of employees work remotely at least part of the time. This number doesn’t even include the number of freelancers and contractors that help support so many businesses.

Many intranets have tried to adapt to mobile by creating responsive websites. But being responsive to mobile devices is not the solution. If you want to get the best engagement, you need a platform that is designed and built to be natively mobile.

Imagine your intranet as a fruitcake. It’s large, dense, yet full of tasty morsels of information. Accessing a traditional intranet on a mobile device is like trying to eat a fruitcake whole.

Now imagine a way to slice up that cake. This is what a lean-back approach to content delivery does.

It takes the vast amounts of information on an intranet and delivers it in bite-sized chunks, ideal for the mobile experience. A lean-back environment is the knife you need to enjoy the fruitcake of information in a pleasurable way.

You can leverage all the other advantages these devices provide. From push notifications and instant messaging.

Book a demo and discover how our modular internal communication app can  increase employee engagement at your company.

5.     No one knows how to find anything

Employees lose interest in an intranet that’s confusing to navigate. Intranets designed by IT people are likely to be logical, but logical is not the same as intuitive. In a world where we are all technology-rich and time-poor, intranets can’t afford to be unintuitive.

Large organizations have an especially hard time with intranet adoption, as not all companies give staff members a tour of the intranet. If your onboarding processes can’t pick up the slack, your comms platform needs to be intuitive at least and have automated tutorials at best.

6.     They aren’t a true reflection of your brand

A consistent brand identity is essential to employee engagement. From the first click, your internal comms platform needs to be branded for your business as it is today, not how it was 10 years ago when you built your intranet.

Modern internal communications platforms allow you to update your brand colours, logos, and dashboard to personalise the experience.

When employees log in, they want to know they’re part of a dynamic, interesting work environment. If the front page is always the same, what does that say about your business?

7.     There’s no personalisation

People are more engaged in things they have a stake in. Intranets that lack an element of personalisation remain distant to users. Imagine a phone you can’t change the background of or add your own apps to. It becomes a dull tool, rather than an expression of your personality.

The ability to personalise the experience to user needs also makes finding information much easier. Employees can set up dashboards that show them information they care about most. When you can add your own stamp on something, you naturally feel a closer affinity to it.

8.     Intranets fail to encourage two-way communication

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is failing to consider the needs of their employees. An intranet should aim to make two-way communications easier, more transparent, and to provide rich, engaging content.

However, some companies focus on delivering dry corporate communications. They talk at their employees, and they forget that their intranet is supposed to be used as a tool to inspire.

This failure to use the intranet to engage is often a problem with functionality, as well as management and strategy. The result is an intranet filled with top-down communications, with nothing to engage and no means for employees to do so even if they wanted to.

Intranets aren’t a great fit for companies who want to engage everyone. Even their remote workers

Choosing the right internal communications platform is a serious challenge. You can’t just judge the features of the platform; you need to understand how your business works and what your needs are.

If you’re an organisation that has remote, hard-to-reach or flexible workers and you want to keep them engaged wherever they are, an intranet might not be the best fit.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to encourage employee engagement.

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