Monthly Archives: November 2017

Is anyone really using your intranet?

To put it mildly, there is some disagreement among communicators about the effectiveness of intranets.

To some, they’re invaluable. Others say they’re outdated and, in a word, dead.

The truth seems to be somewhere in between, but they’re definitely not used as widely as some communicators might like. According to a survey from Presicent Digital Media, even as far back as 2012, only 13 percent of employees said they use their intranets every day. Nearly one third (31 percent) said they never use it at all.

Yet even with what seems to be lacking interest, intranets are highly used by communicators. PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results show that communicators rank intranets as the second most-used communications tool after email. Only six percent of respondents said they don’t use it at all.

What, then, are communicators to do when they’re aiming (or perhaps being pushed) to make the intranet a centerpiece communications strategy even as employees and other stakeholders seem to be only somewhat interested, if at all?

Perhaps it requires a change in perspective. Though some communicators consider them to be, intranets are not the end-all, be-all of internal communication. And they’re not a replacement for email, though some have tried to market them that way. An intranet should be one part of a broad communications approach.

Intranets and email don’t have to be an either/or proposition. Indeed, our own research bears out that most communicators use both on a day-to-day basis. With that being the case, they should work hand-in-hand. Social intranet provider ThoughtFarmer suggests that intranet newsletters are a highly valuable way to drive employees to the intranet.

Best practice is to use the intranet as the destination to post all your long-form content, with email best used to provide the high-level messaging with links back to the intranet articles.

That’s especially true in a world in which mobile communication is increasingly a method employees want and even demand. A survey by theEMPLOYEEapp found that employees are more likely to look to email instead of intranets if intranets aren’t mobile ready. (It also found that most employees—87 percent—prefer to receive news by email.)

If someone is trying to sell you an intranet as a replacement for email, they’re quite simply wrong. Emails are the best possible way to drive more engagement on your intranet, hands down.

Are mobile apps for internal communication really worth it?

According to a 2016 Employeechannel survey, 57 percent of HR leaders across the United States say they’re evaluating mobile apps for communicating with employees. Even more staggering: 87 percent of employees said they would use a mobile app for internal communications if one was available.

But what does that mean, really? It definitely doesn’t mean employees want to be force-fed an app that doesn’t help them do they things they normally do day-to-day.

Often, that’s what’s happening when leaders make pushes to bring mobile apps into the communications fold. In an interview with Marginalia, Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research says businesses often just go for something trendy.

“Sometimes, organizations just buy a solution that looks good, but when they try to implement it, they cannot connect it to the existing data,” Lopez says. “At that point, the company realizes that it has to buy another solution, wasting time and money.”

So what does that 87 percent of employees who say they would use a mobile app really want? There’s no way to know from the survey data, but Connecteam offers this advice: “the best app is the one that most easily fits into the processes your employees are already used to.”

That’s why business leaders and communicators looking to add mobile communications to their employee engagement plans should consider starting with the easiest, most cost effective, and certainly most often over-looked mobile communication app out there – email.

All you need is an email address for every employee, even if they don’t work at a desk. That is certainly a more inclusive approach, and once that aligns with the current communication trends. According to PoliteMail’s 2017 Email Metrics Benchmark survey, mobile access of email has grown 48 percent since 2015.

The most important considerations when choosing an app is not selecting the one with the most buzz or best sales pitch. Generally companies will consider cost and features, but often forget to consider the most expensive item.

In terms of cost, you can expect apps to run roughly $3 to $4 per user per month. In terms of features, generally employees want access to work schedules, benefits information, PTO and company news.

The forgotten but significant cost consideration is process. How will you get the data and information into the app and push it out? Generally these are not systems that are in place. So who is going to configure and support it? Will it be secure? How much extra work does it create for the communications team once it’s up and running?

Trying to shoehorn in a buzzworthy app that does not provide satisfactory answers to all those questions might be far more trouble than it’s worth. Careers rarely advance as a result of sponsoring expensive, under-utilized shiny new things with low adoption rates.

There is certainly a growing appetite for mobile internal communications, yet it doesn’t have to be totally brand new to be successful. Start simply and give employees a way of comfortably and reliably receiving and responding to communications in the palms of their hands.

Learn more about how organizations are communicating with employees by downloading PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.