Keeping up with the latest technology trends isn’t just for the IT guy. From business owners to marketing, HR and finance managers, the trickle-down effect of innovative technology can permeate an entire organization. Advancements in intranet solutions are no exception.Since their inception, intranets have been known as communication tools. Company intranet features help to connect staff and managers and simplify internal communications. However, they are now also a critical component of productivity and can foster collaboration, innovation and information discovery that touches all levels of an organization. From news feeds and blogs to calendars and customized user profiles, social intranet solutions are streamlining the way we work across departments.
Let’s take a look at two key departments common to most businesses, Marketing and Human Resources, and see how the top trends in company intranet features are reshaping their workflow.
Marketing Department: Maximize The Intranet To Meet Your Initiatives
No doubt your marketing team is focused on its external marketing strategy. Branding the company, building its reputation and engaging your external customers is critical to the success of the department. However, popular intranet features can greatly contribute to those goals as well. How so? Consider this scenario. A customer calls your main number to inquire about a new product feature they received an e-mail about. However, the customer service representative has not checked the news that week on the company’s external website. They aren’t aware of the new feature. The marketing department can close this communication gap by using the news and blogs feature of the intranet to make sure employees are aware of all announcements given to the general public. By having a process that automatically pushes information from e-mails, press releases, external blogs and other communication formats to the intranet news section, employees will have one central place to go to stay up to date. If a customer asks about something the customer service representative is not aware of, the staff member will know just where to go to find the answer. In addition to improving communication between departments, customer service increases and the company portrays a professional, knowledgeable persona to its clients, all key initiatives of your marketing department.
Integrate Your CRM Platform With Your Intranet
Some companies have taken it a step further by integrating the cloud intranet with their customer relationship management (CRM) software, for example, Salesforce, which is by far the most popular, using a simple web form.
Salesforce software enables companies to log, manage, and analyze all activity and every touchpoint with both customers and prospects. From order histories through to support calls, sales leads and customized marketing, CRM software enables businesses to provide a comprehensive, streamlined service.However, Salesforce licenses are expensive and especially for a small business, can be quite a financial burden.Furthermore, to get the most out of Salesforce requires you to keep it updated with a constant stream of data and information. This data inputting task usually falls to admin and support staff. But rather than buying expensive Salesforce licenses for these admin staff members who are not using Salesforce to its full potential, a far more cost-effective solution is to use a simple web form accessed through the intranet to connect to Salesforce.
Creating a web form is a simple task using the intranet’s intuitive forms builder and an easy to understand wizard. You can then map all the relevant Salesforce fields that you need into your customized form fields. All the data is then conveyed to Salesforce through the online form without the need for any complicated code to connect the two platforms and without having to purchase unnecessary Salesforce licenses. The Marketing department can then continue to enjoy the benefits of the personalized, digital marketing platform that Salesforce offers without a big price tag.
Enhanced Internal Customer Service
Your marketing department also serves as an internal customer service team, creating numerous documents, graphics and other materials for the entire organization. An intranet with an efficiently designed storage and navigation framework makes it easy for the Marketing department to share these documents, and maintain control of the company’s brand.
Easy access to marketing collateral, from newsletters and e-mail templates to e-books and case studies, ensures the busy marketing staff are not interrupted by having to find and send these documents. The sales team can locate exactly what they need when they need it for each client. What’s more, staff can make requests for the marketing and promotional materials needed for a networking event, conference or client meeting via an online intranet form. So, rather than the cumbersome process of old that usually involved several phone calls or emails to colleagues, a few moments spent completing the online form is all that’s required. And, the best bit is that the intranet automatically routes the form to the correct member of staff for action.
In addition, shared marketplace intelligence is key to giving your sales staff a competitive edge. Don’t make them wait for memos or teleconferences. Mobile access to the intranet makes updated collateral immediately available and improves efficiency for both marketing and sales. The intranet also helps enforce the marketing guidelines the team has worked so hard to create.
Develop An Intranet-based Marketing Calendar
One of the hardest tasks of a marketing team is keeping up with what every department is doing and communicating that message to shareholders and the public. Close the gap by using the intranet to create and maintain your editorial marketing calendar. This not only helps the marketing team collaborate and identify areas that need beefing up, but allowing other departments access to it affords them the opportunity to request editorial coverage in a timely manner. For example, departments can strategically plan events or releases based on when they can get the most visibility. A few clicks through the intranet will make that data immediately available. Maximize an intranet calendar to keep the marketing team in-sync with the rest of the organization.
Human Resources: Utilize the Intranet to Reach Your Goals
Human Resources is critical to maintaining high levels of morale and employee engagement, finding and training new talent, and reducing turnover. An effectively designed intranet can contribute to all of these goals. Here’s how.
Promote Employee Engagement And Build Morale
Research from a variety of sources including Gallup and Aon’s 2018 Employee Engagement Report, consistently show that one way to improve morale in the office and promote employee engagement is to give employees a voice. Gathering internal opinions, feedback and suggestions for improvement is important to build morale and engagement, but is not an easy task.
However, your social intranet network provides the perfect platform. For example, instead of another all staff e-mail asking for employee feedback or a specially convened meeting in an already packed schedule, create an online intranet poll within your social network community. It’s effective because employees perceive a poll as much less time-consuming to fill in than an e-mailed survey.
Another way to build morale is through recognition. Include employee awards and announcements in your news feed. Have the company president mention the “Employee of the Month” in his weekly blog. Make it an interactive blog with the ability for staff to post comments and you will also be giving staff another avenue for getting their voices heard. Staff recognition schemes are an easily implemented way to recognize and reward the achievements of staff both on a professional and a personal level. Employees will enjoy reading about the birth of a baby boy to Phoebe in Accounts as well as hearing about Jackson’s great innovation to save money in the call center.
A third way to boost morale is through customer testimonials. Your marketing department often uses these on the external website, but don’t forget to let your employees know about the good things people are saying about their service and your product. Build pride. Work with your marketing department to make sure employees are getting the same loyalty-building messaging that your customers are receiving. It represents a fantastic pat on the back for staff members and helps to generate an all-round upbeat vibe in the office.
Find And Train New Talent
Where do you find the best talent? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average number of years an employee has worked for their current employer is now just 4.6 years. In addition, for employees in the 55 to 64 age bracket, the average tenure is 10.1 years compared to just 2.8 years in the 25 to 34 age group.There’s no doubting that recruiting and onboarding new staff members costs money and often it’s a considerable investment, especially as the tenure of these employees is becoming shorter and shorter. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129 with onboarding and training costs on top of that.
One way to reduce the costs significantly is to look to recruit more internal candidates. Use your intranet to retain the great talent you already have and save on those recruitment and training costs. The most obvious way to do this is by posting job openings on your intranet’s message board or news feed. You can quickly and easily solicit applicants or referrals without interrupting employee workflow. However, the benefits of an intranet go deeper. It allows you to “listen.” Identify potential leaders by the comments they post, the feedback they give and their ability to rally employees on a particular topic. When you do hire externally, incorporate the intranet into your on-boarding process. Encourage new hires to look through the company directory to learn “who’s who.” Use the calendar and message boards to announce orientation schedules. This also helps to keep managers in the loop, so they can ensure their new staff members attend orientation. Set up videos to acquaint the new hire with the company at their own pace. Encourage them to follow subjects related to their work, post messages to get involved and introduce themselves. Position the intranet as their tool for having a voice in the company and as the go-to platform for all things work related.
Simply put, employee satisfaction and engagement reduces turnover. Happy employees are less likely to leave. Forbes recently looked at how to promote employee happiness. Not surprisingly many of the factors influencing staff happiness which can lead to the decision to leave for another job include the following:
- appreciation for your work and a job well done
- great friendships and connections with colleagues
- good relationships with managers and superiors.
We have already seen how an intranet can support employee recognition programs, and it can also be used to directly affect those all-important personal relationships in the workplace. An intranet-based interactive staff directory can quickly and easily put staff in touch with each other. Including biographies, current work projects and areas of expertise mean that staff can locate internal sources of knowledge directly with just a few clicks of the mouse. Setting up a cross-departmental working group to improve the customer experience is an easy task when you can cherry pick likely participants from across the organization via the intranet’s staff directory.
In addition, why not use social intranet features to connect staff with each other and promote a common sense of camaraderie. Tools such as follow-me functionality, personal or team activity walls and notifications mean that staff can get to know each other. Quite simply a social intranet will help to support those personal relationships that are the bedrock of all successful companies.
Your intranet can even indirectly affect factors like a good work-life balance which can also have a positive impact on staff turnover. Intranets enable more efficient remote working and make mobile access easier, contributing to flexible schedules and making telecommuting possible. Additionally, a social intranet gives employees a sense of belonging to a community and a vehicle for expressing their personal identity.
Intranets Support Marketing & HR Functions
The bottom line is that the intranet will support the efficient functioning of Marketing, HR and every team in your organization. The benefits we have looked at in this post can also be enjoyed by all departments, which means improved productivity, enhanced customer service and increased profits overall.