The Intranet of the Future: Less Stuffy, More Engaging?

A new study from Appirio and the International Association for Human Resource Information Management suggests that successful employee intranets will begin taking more cues from social media.

The office intranet is still important, but it could stand to learn a few new tricks, according to a new study.

The 2013 Appirio Employee Portal/Social Intranet Survey, based on research done by the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM), suggests that the employee information stalwart is taking some cues from social media—and as a result, has the potential to be a major engagement tool. Among the key study points:

Portals haven’t kept up: According to the survey of IHRIM members, most companies have intranet technology based on SharePoint (the most popular option, at 39 percent) or custom, in-house platforms (35 percent). But portals haven’t kept up with more modern trends like cloud computing, social media, and mobile. Such technologies exist for intranet portals, but most respondents said their companies use theirs as a way to communicate HR procedure (70 percent), giving employees access to benefits info (61 percent), and as a launching pad for human resources application information (47 percent). In other words, much of the information being offered is one-way in nature.

Is upgrading worth it? It might be. Using intranet technology designed for social and mobile appears to juice engagement among employees. “In fact, when we look specifically at the question of business impact,” the study states, “we discover that those who are delivering an intranet solution with social or mobile components are experiencing a dramatic improvement in both employee engagement and collaboration (77 percent) over those who don’t offer social or mobile capabilities (33 percent).” The study notes that while most companies haven’t jumped on board a social intranet solution as of yet, the ones that have are finding success.

Apps don’t replace engagement: But for those considering an upgrade, a word of warning: Don’t treat it as a cure-all for poor morale. Programs such as these don’t matter if the employee engagement is forced or artificial, argues contributor and business adviser Les McKeown. He suggests such programs are often a salve for poor, disengaging management. “So when someone approaches me for help in designing an employee engagement program,” he writes, “my first question is this: What’s wrong with your managers? Because, sure as shooting, if you need an employee engagement program, the reality is this: The problem is with your managers, not your employees.”

More information on the survey is available on the Appirio website.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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