There are many clues when you go into an organisation as to how good it is, how it works and most importantly how well it treats employees. It could be the restaurant or canteen, meeting areas and rooms, car parking, desks, chairs, lighting and so on. These all matter sure. Not bean bags. Or pool tables. Or foosball. Or any other gimmicky nonsense.
For me I look at the intranet. In my opinion, every company with over 10 employees should have some form of an intranet to keep people informed, allow them to complete tasks, discuss matters, share information, to understand the organisation, its customers, its products/services and why it exists in the first place. The intranet should be one of the first ports of call for every employee. They should see it as a valuable place to go to get information and to do something for their jobs.
Now a quick note here. Intranets are wholly suitable not for all organisations. I’m talking here about organisations that are mostly desk bound and office based. Manufacturing, retailers, restaurants, etc. are a different kettle of fish.
From experience and research, intranets are normally the poor relation in terms receiving funding, support and indeed love in many organisations. Look at these comments:
“Our intranet is out of date”
“No one uses it much anymore”
“I only use it to get HR forms”
“The design is all over the place”
“I can never find what I want”
“This is an old version of this policy document”
And so on. You get the idea.
So when I see a poor intranet, I see an organisation that really doesn’t care enough about its people to give them a properly functioning and useful tool to do their jobs. You can bet that their public web site has teams of people working on it (plus an external agency) and a significant budget. But the intranet? Probably gets a few Euro from some long forgotten IT budget. The manager is either someone who has little interest in it and does as little as possible or someone who does care and tries their best to improve and develop it with little support or funding (that second one was me!).
A good intranet can be of huge value to any organisation. It sets the tone, style, image, credibility and culture for how an organisation operates, shares information and communicates with its people. It gives everyone a central place to go to. It is the main platform for allowing people to do their jobs without fuss. It tells people that we are a great organisation and we care about giving you the right tools, support and information to do your job effectively and productively.
There are a number of very useful articles as what benefits a good intranet at the end of this article. Read them.
Every year there are some awards for great intranets in terms of design and usage. These will open your eyes in terms of what can be done with a good intranet.
With the growth of enterprise social networking and the impact of technology, an old fashioned, static, poorly designed and managed intranet can do more damage in terms of productivity, engagement, risk management and more.