Here's How To Boost Company Intranet Engagement

August 18, 2015

[Updated May 2023] Have you ever loved your company’s intranet? We’ve yet to hear an employee rave about their internal portal and all the ways that it is a time and sanity-saver. Seriously, Google “how to improve your intranet,” and you will come up with over 59 million results.   

So, is a functioning and engaging intranet unattainable? Could an internal site be useful, concise and delightful – all without over-burdening one editor? We think so!   

Why Are Intranets Still Important? 

An intranet can be a valuable connection point between employees of all levels from both a cultural and business standpoint. It can even provide an opportunity to feature employees in different roles and functions through storytelling so that there is a greater understanding of how everyone contributes to the company’s mission.   

Let’s say you’re experiencing big changes in the organization for example. Think about your intranet approach. You can go beyond just posting links to the new tools and project plans!  

Share a message from the stakeholder explaining why the change is happening now and how it benefits the organization in authentic, transparent and human language. You can include contact information if people have a question about the change and provide managers with resources to support their teams. The possibilities are endless!   

What Makes a Successful Intranet? 

The best company intranets are user-friendly, visual and engaging, while remaining current, accessible and serve as an important touch point for your day-to-day employee experience.

According to a Gallup study though, U.S. employee engagement dropped from 36% in 2020 to 34% in early 2022—the first drop in a decade. While there are numerous reasons why engagement is dipping, and employee sentiment is changing, what hasn’t changed is that employees generally want to find the information they need to do their job well and appreciate community and culture.  

For internal comms folks, this is a good reminder to reassess your internal communications strategy and even find ways to enhance channels like intranets because they can be set up to allow for better communication, connection, and collaboration across your organization. Here are three ways you can get started:   

1. Make It User-Friendly 

How much time are you willing to spend on a site if you can’t find the information you’re looking for? Not long!   

According to McKinsey, workers spend 20% of their time looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. Twenty percent. Run the math on that each week and that is hundreds to thousands of hours down the drain.  

To help employees have a user-friendly experience on the intranet, consider:  

  • Defining a hierarchical structure to help employees easily navigate the intranet and find the information they need. 
  • Keeping the site map simple to ensure employees find it easy to understand. Be sure to use clear and concise labels that avoid technical jargon or complicated terminology. 
  • Creating breadcrumbs to show employees’ current location within the intranet and ease navigation. 
  • Using SEO best practices to enhance search. Consider adding internal links to connect to related content and using metadata such as title tags and meta descriptions to help search engines index and rank content. Conduct a keyword research study on the keywords and phrases that employees are likely to use when searching for information. 
  • Making it accessible to allow employees to access the intranet on the go and from anywhere, including smartphones and tablets. 
Read about the benefits of an accessible careers site

2. Keep It Visual and Engaging  

According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners and one of the best ways to drive the message home is through visual content. In fact, research complied by 3M suggests that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, which means you can paint a picture for your audience much faster with an actual picture.  

That means your intranet should: 

  • Incorporate multimedia, such as images, videos, banners, infographics, and other multimedia content, to make it more visual and interactive. We encourage you to take it a step further and brand your intranet with its own name, look and feel to serve as a cultural touchstone! 
  • Promote dialogue using social media features, such as discussion forums, and chat features. This can help you create a sense of community within the organization for employees outside their teams. Fun ideas include weekly prompts or icebreakers, adding calls to action for engagement after employee profiles, and even compiling themed monthly playlists with employee recommendations. 
  • Solicit feedback by launching surveys and polls to solicit comments and suggestions from employees. Whether it’s a quick pulse survey or a more formal communications preferences survey, employee data will help you double down on what’s working and pivot from what isn’t. 
Learn how to partner with HR on your internal comms preferences survey

3. Gamify the Experience 

A recent TalentLMS study found that 79% of employees believed they’d be more productive if work was more game-like. As we enter an enhanced digital workforce, IC pros should consider gamification techniques to incentivize employees to visit the intranet and engage with meaningful content. 

To help you get the ball rolling, here are some ideas: 

  • Use an online generator like Canva or Bingo Baker to provide everyone with a digital Bingo board before a launch event and host a speedy Bingo game.   
  • Create a scavenger hunt using MS Forms or Scavify to encourage employees to explore the site and become familiar with its functionality and navigation.  
  • Use featured articles to get people involved in mini activities, such as pop-quiz style polls or quick submission challenges at the end of an article that builds engagement with likes and comments or link out to fun BuzzFeed style quizzes.  
  • Build a custom Jeopardy game with Factile, complete with sound effects, Daily Doubles and Double Jeopardy to celebrate a company anniversary or test knowledge about a key initiative.  

An Intranet Is Only Effective if It’s Used by Employees 

By making your intranet user-friendly, engaging and fun, and promoting its use throughout the organization, you can increase employee engagement and make the intranet a valuable tool for all employees.  

To do that, be sure to look for opportunities to measure and improve your intranet experience. Two methods we’ve seen work really well include:  

  • Using data. Consider using your next annual engagement survey or feedback from an exit interview to identify gaps in communication and explore ways to fill them. Little improvements will go a long way towards making sure employees are not only aware of the intranet but also see it as a valuable communication channel.  
  • Listening to what your people are saying. Do they comment on certain types of stories? Are people-focused Q&As a big hit? Identify trends to help you figure out what’s working and what isn’t. 

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest

Download out toolkit for internal communications data visualization best practices


Maira Sarwar-Sheikh

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