Five questions to ask before ditching your intranet site

Are you having trouble connecting with your employees? More than 40 percent of full-time employees work a hybrid or work-from-home schedule, and that number is expected to grow. Add to that the unique needs of deskless workers (e.g., those who work in sales or on a manufacturing line), who make up 80 percent of the global workforce, and communicating with employees has never been more complex. To reach all employees where they are, a full review of the digital communications tools your organization uses is a must.

Are you wondering if your company’s intranet is the best way to communicate with your employees? While companies used to rely on a standard intranet, in today’s landscape it is not always the most effective way to reach employees without a workstation or who travel often. Even computer-based employees may need to access information or company systems while on the go. That’s where employee apps come in.

About Employee Apps.

Unlike intranets, employee apps are built with a mobile-first approach, are more streamlined, and provide a user experience similar to social media apps employees are likely already familiar with. The functionality of these apps varies greatly, ranging from employee communication and engagement to full-scale digital workplaces that integrate recognition, advocacy via external sharing, and human resources functions like payroll, time off and service requests.

As employee apps become more popular, many companies are wondering how to leverage this tool as part of their multi-channel communications strategy. Asking these questions can help you determine whether an employee app would be a good fit for your company:

  1. Is there a need outside the communications function? While it’s possible an employee app could replace the communications-based features of an intranet, other functions such as HR and IT should be consulted to ensure the company’s needs are met in all areas.
  2. What employee groups do you want to engage? Deskless workers often do not have a company computer or mobile device. While they need to be reached, their needs are different than desk-based employees. Examining the specific requirements, habits and communications channels available to each group will help you determine if an intranet or app is the best choice – or perhaps your organization would benefit from having both. A quick way to gauge the need for an employee app is to look at the proportion of employees who are deskless. The greater the number, the more likely it is your organization could benefit from an employee app that meets their unique needs.
  3. How are employees using your intranet site? If the site is well established and employees are already using it to consume information, access tools and systems, and engage with co-workers, adding a new tool may be counterproductive. If your intranet is underutilized, providing an alternative that feels like social media apps may help change behaviors.
  4. Do you have existing tools that can serve as an app? If you’re not ready to commit to a new technology, consider how you can use what you already have. For example, Microsoft Teams encourages engagement through integrations with SharePoint and Yammer, and some popular email platforms can be set up to deliver communications to other channels, like digital signage, without having to switch vendors.
  5. Are resources available to support an employee app? As a critical communications channel, it’s important an app be regularly updated and all comments and user-generated content carefully moderated. Support from IT will also be important for security, integrations and data feeds.

Exploring the concept of an employee app can be quite appealing, offering some interesting features and innovative ways to connect with your team. However, it’s essential to consider whether such an app can genuinely enhance your work environment compared to what your existing company intranet already offers. While some apps may incorporate intranet features and cross-posting options, it’s worth noting that they might not fully replace the robust search and archival capabilities you rely on.

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