Empowering employees via the intranet

An intranet isn’t just the most efficient internal communications channel and platform for knowledge- and resource-sharing, collaboration and self-service. It’s also the most powerful mental charging point in an organization with more employees than can fit around a conference table. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to use the intranet to effectively power-up your organization.

What are the characteristics of perfect employees? Are they people who nod enthusiastically as soon as you think out loud or ask them to carry out an order? Or are they individuals who have an opinion and can act on their own initiative? Probably the latter, if you want your organization to be innovative, engaged and highly motivated.

In this article, we’ll give you some useful tips on how to make your co-workers more proactive, decisive, action-oriented, creative and brave. In other words, how to turn them all into entrepreneurs. You may not think it’s possible to change every employee’s behavior and mindset in this way, but you’ll actually be surprised. With the right conditions and coaching, anyone can become an entrepreneur. It’s fundamentally all about boosting people’s self-confidence, engagement, drive and motivation.

In a small organization, in which everybody meets and works together on a daily basis, personal meetings are probably the most effective means of influencing people. But in a large or a virtual organization, hosting many remote-workers, the intranet is undeniably your most powerful tool.

#1 Listen

Everyone wants to be seen and heard. Your colleagues are no exception to that rule. And if they work on the frontline, you’d be well-advised to listen very carefully to what they have to say. No-one knows your customers better. It’s therefore vitally important that you create processes and forums enabling their observations and ideas for improvement to be efficiently harvested.

One way of doing this is to establish discussion forums on your intranet where employees can post, share and comment on various subjects. There could, for instance, be a forum covering new customer trends, another for customer service, a third tapping into marketing and sales, and so on. Whatever forums you launch, it’s absolutely crucial that someone is in charge of each and every forum and that the person designated quickly responds to employees’ contributions. Just make sure that the feedback routine is in place before the forum goes live.

Even if your organization is as flat as a pancake in terms of hierarchy, it can’t be emphasized enough how important it is for top management to visit the forums every now and then. Employees’ self-confidence will be given a real boost if the CEO or other management representative comments on the forum’s insights and achievements. But the Team Leader and/or Forum Director should always manage the daily feedback in the forum.

Having discussion forums is also an efficient method of cementing an organization and strengthening employee relations on a personal level. People don’t only want to be seen and heard by their bosses. The attention of their co-workers is just as important. For instance, according to the Gallup article Why We Need Best Friends at Work, women who have close friends at work are more than twice as engaged in their work compared to others with no personal workplace relationships. This conclusion is in fact supported by every Gallup workplace study in which respondents are asked whether or not they have friends at work. Their findings conclude that in workplaces where the bond between co-workers is strong, better results are achieved in everything from productivity to sales and creativity.

#2 Play

You can stimulate the organization’s activity on the intranet by introducing gamification, with points and community badges being awarded for employees’ input. For instance, a user could be given a certain number of points when he or she is posting, sharing, or commenting on information. When points accumulate and exceed a certain level, a community badge is added to the user’s profile. By publicly listing employees’ points and badges, you can trigger the organization’s dormant competitive instinct, thereby boosting overall engagement.

According to a recent study by TalentLMS, 89% of the workforce believes that gamification raises their productivity and 88% experience greater happiness through participating in work-related gaming. Daniel Newman, CMO Network, claims that the biggest advantages of gamification are instant feedback and the elimination of fear of favoritism, which often kills engagement. Fear of favoritism is, as the name implies, the anxiety experienced by employees when they suspect their contributions are being overlooked due to the boss’s favoritism of others. This prevents people from doing their best since they assume their input will anyhow be ignored by management. With a fair, well-defined, transparent, structured and automated points system, which rewards every digital contribution, this engagement blocker will effectively be lifted.

#3 Let go

The success of your business is essentially down to the collective successes of all employees. In other words, it’s the sum total of all individual achievements that will determine the future success or otherwise of your business. To avoid stagnation, you must provide the right nurturing conditions for every employee. It’s about offering things like well-defined competence and career development pathways, mentorship and performance reviews. It’s also about setting clear-cut boundaries and allowing employees more freedom and authority to make their own decisions.

Contrary to what many people believe, strict boundaries will not impede the employees’ ability to take action. Quite the opposite. In fact, they’ll perceive themselves as having greater freedom to act within these boundaries. Uncertainty is more limiting and leads to indecision. Instead of micro-managing the employees, one should therefore clearly define the boundaries within which they can act freely. This will most certainly boost their engagement, creativity and focus.

With integrated HRM solutions such as Dynamics 365 Human Resources and collaboration tools like Microsoft Project, Trello and Planner on your intranet, it’s a simple matter to establish individual career paths and liberating borders. The capabilities of these solutions make it easy for each employee to find information about and understand the opportunities, objectives and conditions that are associated with his or her work position. Day by day, project by project.

#4 Encourage

There are many ways of encouraging your co-workers and helping them make the most of their capabilities. Acknowledgements, both public and private, bonuses and promotions are the traditional methods, but there’s a lot more you can do. Particularly if you want to push a person in a certain direction. Just saying “Well done!”, with a pat on the back, will most likely enhance a person’s self-esteem and allow him or her a brief feel-good moment, but it probably won’t induce the employee to set off on a new course. To make that happen, your feedback must be more detailed in terms of what the person did well and whether there are things that could be done even better.

You can be generous with this kind of encouragement in forums, virtual collaboration rooms, project plans/boards and individual reviews. This is obviously a more time-consuming method, especially if you’re used to the fast and easy “Well done Team! Give us more of the same!”. But if you really want to encourage behaviors that will move the team forward, you need to dig in deep, analyze and pay special tribute to each individual achievement.

Another structured and result-oriented method of inspiring your co-workers, and one which at the same time stimulates creativity and intrapreneurship, is to challenge them. Literally speaking. With an integrated Idea Management solution, such as edison365ideas, you can generate new bright ideas by extending challenges to the entire organization or to a targeted group. Such challenges can, for instance, involve the solving of problems, improving processes, innovating, or generating new ideas for sales and marketing.