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Can Community Double As Intranet for Your Organization?

Written by Molly Talbert | on April 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM
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You figured out the recipe for member engagement. Can you work the same magic on your employees?

Intranets have a reputation for being underused and clunky, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Instead of thinking about it as an intranet, think about it as a staff community, where people go for professional support and fun.

When starting a community, you need to know how it will bring value to your members. So, when starting an intranet, you need to ask yourself: how does it bring value to staff? If everyone has a reason to log on, or feels like they’re missing out if they don’t check in, then you have a recipe for engagement.

How do you create an engaging environment for your staff?

1. Cross-departmental collaboration and knowledge

Quick quiz: do you know what other departments are working on? Is marketing planning a fun event? Did sales just close a big deal?

A community intranet connects all the inter-departmental dots, so everyone understands the big picture. Departments can post blogs with updates or start discussions about upcoming events or projects. Colleagues don’t even need to log into the community every day to stay updated -- daily or weekly digests are a great way of educating people on their terms.

A bird’s eye view of what’s going on in the company is so important because other departments have helpful resources or work on similar projects. Opening the door for communication and sharing takes down unproductive silos and invites collaboration -- why keep information from each other?

2. One stop-shop for all HR resources

A community intranet is the perfect place to store all those HR forms and information people rarely need -- until it’s really important. Rather than scattering information everywhere or requiring people to remember dozens of links, put everything in one spot.

Employees will be happier since they’ll know exactly where to go to find calendars, payroll, information on their retirement and insurance, and expense reimbursement forms. And your HR department will be happier since they’ll get fewer questions and there will be less confusion. Train new hires right from the beginning -- rather than handing them an information packet with forms and information, show them where to find everything in the community.

3. Resource and document sharing

If a community can be a one-stop-shop for all your HR resources, it can also be a one-stop-shop for each department’s resources.

Do you ever have trouble finding the right powerpoint template, or need a specific brochure or case study? Each department can compile a list of resources and documents they know would be useful for everyone to have access.

The right platform will allow you to put various security settings on everything. So, each department could also store sensitive documents in the same place, but only certain people would be able to see and access them.

4. Company-wide discussions

There are few things more annoying than all staff emails that are off topic and out of control. Let your intranet take care of those.

Rather than sending emails to everyone, you can post a question or share a screenshot of an issue on the community. People subscribed to those groups will see it and can follow the discussion -- or unfollow, if they’d prefer.

Beyond facilitating collaboration and information sharing, communities are a great place to have fun with your coworkers. Set aside groups where people can share music, funny GIFs or even play extended Werewolf games -- which we do at Higher Logic! These discussions probably aren’t professionally focused, but they bring staff together and create a fun, collegial culture.

5. Peer to peer recommendations

A thriving staff intranet also allows employees to ask each other for recommendations and make announcements. Colleagues can post dog sitting opportunities, sell that extra concert ticket or ask who are the best dentists near the office. People usually trust peer to peer recommendations more than random review sites, so they’ll appreciate having that extra resource. Again, it may not be professionally focused, but small interactions like this bring people together.

6. Events and announcements

Post company-wide announcements, updates and events on the community so those important updates don’t get lost in a flood of email. Employees can RSVP to events through the community, and download the information into their calendar. The process is streamlined since it’s all in one platform, rather than using a separate tool to send invitations and track RSVPs.

7. Volunteer

Many companies have a commitment to give back and volunteer in their communities. Post and track volunteer opportunities in your intranet. Staff can look at opportunities, see who else has signed up and track how many hours they’ve volunteered. They can even post opportunities and recruit colleagues to go with them.


Make sure everyone is involved

One of the biggest pitfalls of traditional intranets is getting everyone interested and involved. If they don’t have a stake in the intranet, why bother? But if you make it a place for resource sharing, coworker bonding and peer to peer recommendations, it switches from being just an intranet into a staff community. Incorporate both a professional and social side, and staff will find it valuable and fun. 


 

Topics: Online Community Management, Engagement

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