Happy New Year!
I hope, like me, you’re still filled with Christmas cheer and excited about what 2019 has in store.
This year, I’ve decided to continue focusing on my 2018 goals – one of which was to incorporate more academic insights in my internal communications (IC) practice and this blog.
I made some great progress with this goal last year, including presenting academic insights into factors influencing intranet usage to digital communication practitioners at an event run by Advatera, an international business networking company.
If your 2019 goals include launching or relaunching your intranet, here are 5 practical tips from my presentation to help you build that all-important business case.
1) Secure senior management buy-in and ongoing support
Despite recent reports of declining trust in business leaders among employees, it’s difficult to deny the power and influence of those at the top. The behaviours of senior leaders signal to employees what is (and is not) acceptable within an organisation and are a key component of the company culture. If your intranet is to be a success, your leaders not only have to see it as an important communication tool, they have to allocate sufficient resources to help maintain it and consistently promote and use it.
A study involving nearly 400 employees at four Malaysian companies showed that high levels of senior leadership support were related to intranet use (Masrek et al, 2008).
A study examining intranet usage in the UK building surveying sector found that firms with the highest level of intranet usage had high levels of perceived senior management support, in the form of funding and promotion of staff training (Wilkinson et al, 2002).
2) Invest in a collaborative and integrated platform
As IC practitioners, we’re often responsible for facilitating collaboration between colleagues from across the business. We’re also privy to employees’ complaints about having to navigate several siloed digital tools to complete simple tasks, either by themselves or in their teams. Humans are hardwired to choosing the least effortful option when making a decision – the ‘path of least resistance’ – so make choosing your intranet a no-brainer for employees by ensuring it’s easy to connect and collaborate with colleagues and move between existing web applications.
In an international benchmarking study involving 6,000 employees across 22 companies, an intranet’s collaboration quality – the extent to which it enables user collaboration – was the only factor to influence intranet use and user satisfaction (Urbach et al, 2010)
The extent to which an intranet provides easy access to existing information systems was found to be a stronger predictor of intranet quality and usage than other technological features like integrated search and notification alerts in a study exploring intranet usage in 168 organisations (de Carvalho et al, 2008).
4) Regularly collect user feedback
The saying “feedback is the breakfast of champions” – often attributed to leadership expert Ken Blanchard – is as true for IC as it is for business management. Evaluating how messages and communication outputs are received by employees is a key part of effective IC. Through continuous monitoring, we can make the necessary tweaks to our communication channels and content to ensure future success.
A study involving intranet users at a New Zealand university found that the perceived usefulness of the intranet positively influenced users’ intentions to use the intranet, which is a strong predictor of actual intranet use (Neill & Richards, 2011).
In Urbach’s (2010) study, user satisfaction predicted intranet usage and individual performance.
5) Seek out your digital natives and tech enthusiasts
The rise of digital technology is a phenomenon that continues to divide public opinion. For some people, it’s a nightmare realised; for others, it’s a necessary and welcomed evolution. For those under 25, it’s just life. Employees in the last two groups are key to generating enthusiasm about your intranet, so it’s worth taking the time to find them and get them involved where possible.
Employees who are experienced Web users are more likely to use the intranet, according to a survey of 3,000 intranet users in Korea. Web experience was also linked to the intranet’s perceived ease of use (Lee & Kim, 2009).
In Masrek et al’s (2008) study, employees who were confident in their ability to use the intranet to reach their goals and were willing to embrace new IT were more likely to be frequent intranet users.
Now it’s time for you to make your 2019 intranet goals a reality!
Let me know how you get on by leaving a comment below or contacting me using this short form. I’m also happy to share my presentation and copies of the studies listed below.