Does Your Company Need an Intranet? The pros & cons of having an intranet

Updated: Oct 26

This article is part of our annual Cosmic Conference series and this year our focus is (re)Designing the Employee Experience. From Sept. 28th - Oct. 21st, 2022 we are exploring all-things EX. Learn more and register to attend here.


Employee retention is a key priority among leaders today. The global talent shortage means the competition is increasingly high for good talent and holding on to your employees has never been more critical to the performance of an organization. Leaders around the world are looking for ways to reduce their turnover rates beginning with ensuring they are providing their staff with a meaningful employee experience. One simple way to keep employees around is to ensure they are engaged with their work, their colleagues, and their working environment. A simple tool to bridge these three together is an intranet.

While it is not the end-all solution, the intranet has the potential to support a more impactful employee experience and in this article, we’ll help you decide whether you need an intranet to boost connection, performance, retention, and engagement.


So, what is an intranet?

An intranet is a private network organizations use to help employees share and find information, collaborate with each other, and engage with top management. Intranets have evolved over the years. Traditional models were one-way communication tools managers used to share information with employees, unlike the modern intranets which act as a social medium enabling users to create and share content. Today’s intranets are flexible, interactive, and can be tailored to the specific needs of an organization.


How can Intranets improve EX?

Employee experience (EX) is defined as an employee’s perceptions about their journey through every touchpoint they have with a company, starting with job candidacy through to the exit from the company. Intranets can streamline the EX by creating a single platform that helps employees and the company interact efficiently. An intranet connects a company to its employees and helps create a strong bond among colleagues with features like storing documents and policies, discussion forums, news updates, and chat functions.


Pros & Cons of an intranet

While an intranet provides major benefits to an organization, implementing it can also have some drawbacks. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of having an intranet:


Pros:

1. Reduced idle time

Team members spend an average of 9.3 hours a week trying to find documents, according to a McKinsey report. To help reduce this lost time, intranets act as a single repository employees can search to access information.

2. Improved internal communication

Intranets offer two-way communication between the organization, management, and employees. It acts as a platform for leadership to share updates and for employees to voice their thoughts. Features like discussions and announcements forums, as well as liking and commenting on the news allow organizations to share information that employees, in return, can share their thoughts and comments on.

3. Stronger peer-to-peer connection

Productivity can increase by 20 to 25% in companies where employees are connected. To help improve connectivity, intranets create a space that encourages employees to communicate and learn more about each other. Whether it’s the employee directory, or chat tools, employees will find it easier and more casual to communicate with each other and build stronger connections.


Cons:

1. Tricky setup & onboarding

Setting up and onboarding employees to an intranet can be complex. Users may not find the interface intuitive or easy to use, and as a result, they may stop using it. This costs a company time, money, and resources spent on setup.


To prevent this from happening, start by checking the reviews of the different platform options you’re considering. While some are good, others are not as effective. When you select the tool, ensure there is a dedicated customer support manager to help you navigate any technical difficulties you may face. Similarly, it is also helpful to have an internal “guardian”, that is, a team or individual in your company to help with all things set up and maintenance. Documentation is also helpful, specifically when onboarding a new user, we recommend preparing a best practices guide employees can refer to and host regular trainings explaining the importance of the intranet and how to use it.


2. Information overload

The average human attention span is continuously decreasing and is currently at 8.25 seconds. This means only important information should appear to employees, otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming users or losing their attention.

One way to do this is to regularly update the intranet with relevant, timely information. Guardians of the Intranet should also set permission levels that grant employees access to only information that’s useful for them.


3. Work overload

Having an intranet may increase the guardian’s workload making them overwhelmed and burned out. This happens when the distribution of intranet tasks is unevenly distributed.


One way to prevent this is by distributing the intranet work fairly, depending on how many individuals it requires to run efficiently. Some individuals may lead on tech support, others may be in charge of regularly updating the content and another group may be in charge of onboarding new joiners. The intranet should not be an additional burden to your employees.


Do you need an intranet?

Managers often rely on the number of employees to decide whether an intranet is good for their organization. But staff size is only one factor contributing to this decision. If part or the whole team, regardless of its size, works remotely, an intranet would facilitate both their synchronous and asynchronous work. Also, if there’s a problem in internal communications and in knowledge-sharing, then an intranet can solve these challenges and help teams work effectively.


So, to know if an intranet is right for your company, we encourage you to ensure that it’s there to help you achieve your business goals. This can be to account for your company’s growth and help you scale, or to improve internal operations, create alignment or promote interpersonal connections.


The decision to implement a new means of engagement in your organization is no small feat. If you need help in setting up an intranet and your internal comms, book your one-on-one consultation.