An Intranet: Understanding What it Is, its Uses and Benefits

Discover how an intranet could increase productivity, reduce turnover, and boost employee engagement across your business

July 28, 2023
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Every business is looking for ways to increase productivity, reduce turnover, and boost employee engagement.

And while setting up an intranet isn’t the most glamorous project you’ll work on this year, it is one of the most effective ways to improve all these metrics in your business – and more.

Read on to learn what an intranet is, the research-backed ways it can benefit your business, and the key features yours should include if you want it to have the biggest impact on your bottom line.  

What is an intranet?

The simplest way to define intranet is as a private network that can only be accessed by a company’s employees.

While that doesn’t sound like it’s much of a game-changer, employee intranets have transformed the fortunes of a fair few organizations. That’s because they become a team’s one-stop-shop for knowledge sharing, communication and collaboration, and keeping on top of company updates.

What are ways an intranet is used?

There are three main ways the most effective organizations use an intranet to boost their productivity:

Knowledge management

First and foremost, a company intranet can transform knowledge management across an organization.

It makes it easy for a company to house all its important information, guidelines, and processes so each employee always has them to hand. That means no more urgent questions sitting unread in a colleague’s inbox, as every bit of information an employee could ever need is always just a few clicks of their mouse away.

Plus, an intranet ensures everyone is always working from definitive, up-to-date documents. That means no one will ever find themself working from outdated information or obsolete processes they saved on their harddrive months ago.

Communication and collaboration

As your company’s central hub, an intranet makes it a lot easier for your employees to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues in departments – especially for remote and hybrid businesses. 

Employee engagement

An intranet connects your employees, no matter how big your business is or if your people work from around the world rather than from an office. And that makes it an invaluable employee engagement tool. There aren’t many more effective ways to foster a sense of community between your teammates in the age of remote and hybrid working.

How can an intranet benefit a company?

Could social intranet tools really make an impact on your organization? 

Here are some research-backed intranet benefits that come from empowering your employees with a platform they’ll use

Increase productivity…

Did you know the average employee spends an incredible 20% of their working week searching for the information they need to complete their daily tasks?

That’s an entire working day every week spent trying to find information that would take minutes to find in a well-organized intranet.

… and profits

Create a more efficient workplace with intranet and it’ll quickly start to make a difference to your bottom line.

In fact, it’s estimated that organizations with around 1,000 employees could save a whopping $2.7 million every year by setting up an employee intranet that makes it easier for their people to find the information they need.

And the bigger your company, the bigger the difference setting up intranet tools will make to your business’s profits statements, with the typical Fortune 500 company losing around $31.5 billion a year through failing to share knowledge.

Increase retention

Employee engagement and intranet go hand in hand.

Here’s why:

Once an employee feels like they’ve hit a glass ceiling in your organization they don’t usually take long to hand in their notice. In fact, a massive 41% of workers say they’ve quit a previous job due to the lack of progression opportunities.

A company intranet helps your employees quickly learn more about how your organization works – as well as soak up their colleagues’ knowledge. And this is your most ambitious teammates’ ticket to ensuring their role grows alongside their professional aspirations.

And with 94% of workers saying they’ll stay at a company longer if there is a learning opportunity, leveraging intranet software is a surefire way to increase employee retention.

Encourage collaboration

If your employees are more likely to hoard their knowledge and insights than share them with their colleagues, your organization will quickly run into trouble. 

Because here’s the thing:

86% of workers say a lack of effective collaboration and communication is the main cause of workplace failures.

And yet 36% of workers find it so difficult to exchange information across different teams within their organization that it causes productivity-sapping silos.

Empowering your people with effective intranet collaboration tools can be the first step in fostering more collaboration and communication across your company.

Eliminate meetings

A well-organized intranet will also lead your employees to spend a lot less time in meetings, as their teammates can just look up the information they need in the internal wiki rather than booking in a slot to get that information from them.

Skeptical of the impact that’ll have on your business? Earlier this year, Shopify canceled all meetings with more than two employees and all meetings scheduled for Wednesdays. This freed up over 322,000 hours – or an incredible 8,050 full-time work weeks – of its employees’ time. A company intranet is your ticket to seeing those kinds of time savings in your business.

Bake recognition into your company culture

40% of American workers say they'd put more energy into their work if they were recognised more often.

And here’s the thing: employees want to appreciate each other. When offered a simple tool to do so 44% of all workers will provide peer-to-peer recognition on an ongoing basis. 

Plus, peer-to-peer recognition is 36% more likely to have a positive impact on your business’s bottom line than manager-only recognition. 

Which means empowering your employees with tools like our free recognition and rewards software as part of your intranet is a simple but effective way to bake employee recognition into your company culture.

What features should an intranet have?

Not all intranet features are created equal. Focus on this handful to make sure yours is a valuable source of company information without becoming cluttered with useless features.

Knowledge management

All your bases will be covered with these tools for knowledge management:

Communication and collaboration

Together, a workplace news feed, CEO and Executive updates, and weekly updates will keep your employees on top of what’s happening within your organization.

Plus, an “Ask Me Anything” employee question template will help your people quickly get answers to questions that aren’t covered in your intranet already (and shine a light on information you need to add in there).

Employee engagement

A surefire way to boost engagement across your business is to celebrate your employees’ hard work through a recognition program. Running that through your intranet makes it easy to engage your team in nominating their teammates to be celebrated for a job well done.

The final word

There’s no denying that setting up a company intranet isn’t going to be the sexiest project you’ll work on this year. 

But a modern intranet can be your new digital workplace – one that boosts productivity, fosters collaboration across different departments, and ultimately increases profits.

Just make sure yours has the features we’ve highlighted here to make sure you reap the biggest benefits when you launch your company intranet.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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