Even in the best of times, employees aren’t satisfied with getting the bulk of their information from co-workers or the office rumor mill. But when there’s a global pandemic raging on, company higher-ups have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to be visible to the people they hire.
What’s more, employees want to hear from leaders right now. According to Edelman, 63% of workers trust what their employer says about the coronavirus — beating out both traditional news sources (51%) and the government (58%). But how can they keep employees in the loop, especially when workforces may be scattered due to long-term work-from-home policies? The answer is through a constant output of messaging via the organization’s intranet and related tech tools.
A centralized intranet enables the swift distribution of alerts, updates, events, and regulations that are pertinent to employees. However, just having an intranet isn’t good enough. CEOs and other executives must actively engage with the solution. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening en masse, which could explain why 52% of IT professionals say their colleagues are dissatisfied with their business’s intranet.
Why Intranets Fail to Amplify Corporate Communications
It may seem odd that a company intranet designed for rapid deployment of communications and relevant data could fizzle out. A frequent reason for intranet fatigue among workers is that their leaders aren’t present in the system. In essence, the intranet begins to feel like a place for employees below a certain hierarchical level or pay grade. That’s neither motivating nor comforting.
Executives don’t use their intranets to align and communicate with employees for a variety of reasons — but the most often cited reason? They’re busy. Others feel uncertain about how to leverage an intranet to beat the drum and share strategic messaging. Yet when leaders are noticeably absent from their corporate intranet or won’t commit to using the tech their teams use, the result can be a disconnect between departments and people.
That disconnect can cause operational hiccups and organizational goal misalignment.
Making Effective Use of the Intranet as a Primary Communication Vehicle
A full 90% of intranets never make it to their third birthdays. To give yours the best possible chance of survival, follow a few guidelines when it comes to making intranet usage ubiquitous across every stratum of your company.
1. Set guidelines for when to use different tech tools.
Most corporations employ a variety of tools in addition to an intranet. Ensure everyone from the summer intern to the CFO knows when and how to use each system.
For instance, your team may rely on Slack for instant answers and rapid discussions, but your intranet is probably a better portal for valuable information that could quickly get buried in Slack or email chatter. Similarly, the intranet might be more useful for sharing Zoom login credentials or emergency alerts regarding a company pivot related to COVID-19.
The more confident your team becomes with your integrated tech stack, the easier it will be to avoid communication mishaps and increase dialogue and collaboration.
2. Establish a virtual headquarters.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us thought we’d be back in the office in a few weeks. Needless to say, many workplaces are still operating remotely — and some are having employees telecommute permanently. That means they’ll need to rely on a centralized hub to keep employees informed.
An intranet not only ensures that everyone has access to vital information, but also that no one feels alone. Modern, high-powered intranets allow employees to log in to multiple systems with one set of credentials. Rather than having to jump from their email to their calendar to sales platforms, workers can get what they need from their virtual headquarters: the corporate intranet.
3. Make it a cross-functional effort.
Back in the early days of intranet creation, a business’s IT department was charged with building, running, and administering the intranet. Thanks to the availability of plug-and-play options, IT team members no longer need to make communication decisions or deploy information.
A cross-functional team of peers from various departments should monitor and review your intranet, not just the internal communications team or IT. Consider bringing in someone from the C-suite, a marketing teammate, a sales rep, and a customer service team leader, among other players. Each person can ensure that the intranet is being utilized fully — or point out opportunities to improve engagement.
By unburdening your IT team, your intranet can become a thriving, intuitive hub that works for everyone, including leaders.
It’s impossible to overcommunicate, especially if you’re an executive. Make use of your intranet and other tech tools to disseminate information efficiently and foster collaboration. The stronger your connection with team members, the more rapidly you can help your organization move from crisis management to “full steam ahead” mode.
Want to learn other ways to boost organic give-and-take during the pandemic? Download the “State of Internal Communications During COVID-19” survey results for thought-provoking statistics and real-world recommendations.