Summary: Four daily principles for improving employee engagement while creating a connected, motivated, high-performing team.
Our people are our most critical component to success. This is true for virtually all businesses, and it’s certainly true at Intranet Connections.
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And while I’m proud of our intranet technology, I’m more proud of the people I work with day in and day out.
If you’ve talked to our support team, you may have met Karl, who lives by the sign he put above his desk that says “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work”. If you’ve visited our blog, you’ve read the daily insights from Caitlin – such as how an intranet can motivate the largest generation in the workplace. If you’ve used our intranet software, you’ve experienced Neil’s unwavering commitment to a practical and easy-to-use solution.
These are just a few of the 30 amazing people who bring Intranet Connections to life for our customers, and their engagement is the foundation for our software to support over 100,000 user connections every week.
There’s a lot of important discussion about employee engagement taking place. I suspect engagement really is the future of work.
Whether it’s Deloitte’s look at the employee experience, or HBR’s coverage of IDEO’s employee engagement formula, in an economy where great talent is hard to find and harder to keep, companies only thrive by keeping their employees engaged, happy, and fulfilled.
There is no perfect plan, it’s a constantly evolving landscape, and we don’t always get it right. But we are committed to the employee experience. These four principles are core to making sure Intranet Connections stays true to celebrating our people:
- Principle 1: Teams built on skilled people, not just people’s skills
- Principle 2: Personality, please!
- Principle 3: Our social contract
- Principle 4: An integrated framework
Principle 1: Teams built on skilled people, not just people’s skills.
People no longer choose to work for a company; they choose to work with a company.
So while our teams have familiar functions (marketing, product, etc), we look for great people who showcase and pursue their passions on a daily basis.
Today, career progression is less about carefully followed steps that take place in a specific order, and more about opportunities for gaining knowledge through varied experiences. For me, that means looking for experiences that form the basis of a career portfolio that our team will be proud of:
- Stretching team member experiences by supporting them on new projects where they learn new skills
- Assignments that cross departmental lines
- Impactful coaching and mentoring from those outside our department
We recently launched the ‘Level Up program’ on our intranet which is a two-pronged approach to developing our staff internally. Employees can apply for financial support to sharpen their skill set with additional training. This can include evening courses, conferences, books, workshops, online classes, or any other approach that help develop soft or technical skills. Afterward, we present our experience, takeaways, and actionable items with the company during a Lunch + Learn. The second facet of the Level Up program is the mentorship program, where employees are matched up and are encouraged to speak freely about both our personal and career goals and aspirations. The mentor is there to listen, and to help provide guidance.
The Level Up program lives and evolves on the intranet. Employees can reevaluate and update their goals, keep team leaders up to date on their progress, and apply for financial support with an expense form.
Principle 2: Please, bring your personality!
I believe that when people bring their true selves to work, they form stronger bonds and are more willing to take risks and imagine new possibilities with one another. In this sense, a workplace is a puzzle, where every shape is distinct, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Employees need to know that personality is not left at the front door, it’s actively invited in. The results:
- unexpected solutions
- constructive descent
- introvert and extrovert both given voice
At IC, we achieve this through daily huddles where topics range from business wins, to weekend highlights, to favorite champagnes. Strategy sessions where team members debate every element of our business. And public sharing – team members showcase their passions on our intranet. We see Strava trackers for 50-km Saturday runs, lunch-and-learns for Earth Day, and fundraisers for Special Olympics.
Our goal is to create a shared narrative, unite around a sense of internal community, and encourage dialogue across our company.
In this environment, passion for code is as important as passion for triathlons.
Our intranet SQirl is the go-to source for company information. But it’s also a space to let your personality shine. It’s also an internal community to announce milestones, share interesting articles, recipes, environmentally friendly take-out restaurants in the area, or post photos from our staff events. Our graphic designer updates the design to match holidays (which usually has the sqirls dressed accordingly). We also take full advantage of the employee profiles in the directory. It’s a great place for new staff to get to know one another and for everyone to add a bit of their personality.
Principle 3: Our social contract (Thanks IDEO for helping frame this for me!)
You might have heard about the SPICE we apply to our work. These are the 5 common values that bring us together: simplicity, positivity, integrity, creativity, and empathy.
These values are, in fact, the behaviors that drive our social contract. They empower team members to direct their own work without needing lots of oversight and bureaucracy, and they help people define what success looks like.
We’ve found that they are also a great support as we expand our team: The employees we hire understand the framework for which decisions are made and success is measured.
Our company mottos were published and voted by our staff on the intranet. They’re still kept online, next to our company vision, mission, and goals. New employees review this section of the intranet during the onboarding process.
Principle 4: An Integrated Framework
There are an overwhelming number of areas to focus on: performance management, goal setting, diversity, inclusion, wellness, leadership. These are the pillars around which our internal communication is built, and on which our intranet is built. Our objective is to provide a single point of truth, where we can find the answers to questions we all need to do our jobs well.
Our intranet suite unifies document management, assets & resources, and notifications & news. It allows us to upload, manage, and organize essential files, document strategic plans for quarterly and annual goals, and set regular check-ins. Our storage includes full-text searching, versioning and read confirmation.
So, while an intranet is great for critical tasks like communication and document management, its higher purpose is to unlock the knowledge and experience that is found within every company, and align employee experience to the key business targets. As I mentioned, it’s not always perfect, but we believe in it, and we’re excited to help our customers unlock potential on a daily basis.