A strong roll-out plan can affect the immediate and long term success of your new intranet. Here are four key components to consider when planning your intranet launch.
1. Make It Simple & Easy to Use
When preparing for an intranet launch, the last thing you want to do is to make it difficult for employees to access the site. Make sure that the intranet is set to be the default home page for all web browsers. Your IT group can push these changes out to all users through Active Directory Group Policies. Once you’ve launched, the first site employees see when they open their browser is the intranet, and they will never have to remember the URL.
Enable a single-sign on process for your intranet so that your employees do not have to remember another set of login credentials. Knowing who is logged into the intranet allows you to properly monitor usage, stats, and you can eventually tailor content to individuals, groups and teams.
Push for a company policy on restricting global emails, as it encourages daily use of the intranet. Don’t let mass emails be a competing form of communication within the organization. Place the intranet as the center of internal communication.
2. Create a Personalized Identity
When you enter the latest top-rated restaurant in town, the ambiance makes you feel: if the restaurant design is warm and intimate, you feel comfortable and relaxed; if the design is hip and leading edge, you feel upbeat and cool. Think of your intranet design as ambiance. How do you want your employees to feel when they visit the site? Here are three different approaches to branding your intranet.
- Personality: create an identity for your intranet. Think of a mascot or name then design a logo and theme around the identity.
- Comfort: design your intranet to be in line with your corporate branding. Use color schemes, images and logos that employees are familiar with and are used throughout the company. Employees may be more comfortable with a site design where there is immediate recognition.
- Get Creative: create a different theme for holidays or for each season (spring, summer, fall, winter). This can help to pique interest by introducing fresh designs throughout the year. Get creative and try these new intranet ideas!
Above all, keep your designs simple. Don’t overcrowd with content on the home page, don’t put in flashy graphics that blink, don’t use a black background with hot pink font, and don’t overwhelm.
3. Focus on Engagement
Employee engagement is critical when it comes to user adoption of the intranet. If you can engage employees from the first visit to the site, you are well on your way to long-term intranet success. Humans are social by nature, so use the social aspects of your intranet to engage. Remember, your goal is buy-in and to get employees on the site daily. Once that happens, you can scale back the social and focus more on the tasks. Here our top five ways to immediately engage your employees.
- BUILD AWARENESS: A successful intranet launch includes building awareness. An excellent way to do this is to include employees in the name-game. Set up a contest to name your intranet as part of the roll-out plan. You can even use the intranet to facilitate the contest by creating an electronic form and promoting it from the intranet home page. Employees can submit their ideas for the intranet name and the winner receives a prize and will be featured prominently on the intranet.
- FEATURE EMPLOYEES: People like to see and hear about other people so put employees on the intranet home page for launch day. Look for opportunities to feature employees: who just had a baby, who is getting married, does anyone have a milestone birthday coming up, and who’s heading into retirement? Most important: always upload a photo of the employee you are showcasing. Another popular tactic is to have your CEO post a welcome video, or generate a blog with (at minimum) three current blog posts from the CEO. This shows employees that management encourages and expects them to use this new tool.
- DRIVE ENGAGEMENT: Another clever way to engage is to launch with an online scavenger hunt. This is fun and can help employees in using the site and finding content. “Hide” items on the intranet and ask employees to find the hidden content. The first three people to find the content (words, images, etc) are awarded prizes for their department. This strategy is an easy way to get a large number of employees browsing the site and introducing them to your navigation.
- ENABLE NETWORKING: Enable Enterprise Networking tools on your intranet. Ask employees to read, rate and comment on specific content that relates to them directly. Look for hot topics, both internally and externally, that impacts your employees. Combatting the seasonal flu is a good external topic so place tips on preventative measures, and what symptoms to watch out for. What is current and immediate in your company: are you working towards a product launch, coming up with a new brand, writing new policies, bringing on a new department manager, down-sizing, or expanding to new locations? Generate conversation about the hot topics in your organization, publish content, slideshows and videos about those topics and ask employees to participate in those conversations.
- EMPOWER CONNECTIONS: Not surprisingly, some of the top used applications on an intranet are the Employee Directory and a Buy & Sell Exchange feature. Both have that social element and both can help to draw your employees to the intranet. Ensure that there are no paper copies of phone lists floating around the company. You want the intranet to be the only place employees can find contact info on other employees. Ask employees to post their photos to their Employee Directory profile (set one up for them before launch) and to fill in their skills and personal information/interests. For the buy-and-sell, ask people in your department if they have anything up on Craigslist. They probably won’t mind having it also listed on the intranet’s buy-and-sell. You want to have real content loaded in these two applications before launch day.
4. Content is (Still) King
This may seem like a no-brainer but it requires careful consideration on how much content should be within the intranet when you launch. Our approach is in line with keeping it simple and don’t overwhelm – in other words, go for quality over quantity at the beginning.
Utilize the home page and create widgets to point employees to new and relevant content. Think in terms of what an employee needs. What information can you provide that would make their jobs easier.
Continue to promote content that engages. Promote a Ideas Share Exchange application where employees can give input about the features they would like to see on the intranet. Create an Intranet Home Page Quick Poll, such as “how do you like the new intranet”. This shows employees that you’re interested in their opinions and feedback.
Although your intranet will include content that is generated by one, or a handful, of employees prior to launch, remember the single most important factor in your roll-out plan: allow employees to contribute content on the intranet. Employees want to be interactive with this new social tool, and by giving them a chance to contribute, you are ensured success in meeting your intranet launch goals.
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