Customize the experience

It’s getting harder for corporations to communicate with their employees, as distributed work forces span multiple time
zones around the globe. At the same time,
studies by Watson Wyatt Worldwide confirm that effective communication is a vital
component to successfully drive employee
engagement and increase productivity. By
using the company’s intranet as a robust
framework, best practice companies are
engaging workers with interactive, customized online experiences that not only
provide employees with communications
and resources but encourage the sharing of
best practices and mentoring in real time.

“The more personalized and relevant each
employee’s experience is with the company’s intranet, the more engaged they are,”
says Michael Rudnick, Global Practice
Leader, Intranets and Portals, at Watson
Wyatt Worldwide. “An intranet has always
been a place to post static content, but
capabilities like blogs, wikis, tagging and
user-generated videos hook passive users
and capture their enthusiasm.”

Smart Business spoke with Rudnick
about how companies can drive employee
engagement and productivity through collaborative intranet strategies.

How does customizing the user experience
drive engagement?

Until a few years ago, intranets were really just a place to house information; users
didn’t log in and the experience was the
same for everyone. Employees really want
both personalization and customization.
The new strategies tailor the experience for
each user with content that is relevant and
targeted, which gets them inside the company and participating at a much deeper
level.

Which strategies are most effective?

Create communities around projects,
clients, ideas or topics; employees can join
the groups and share daily updates and best
practices. Community members can also
post content about their work and employees throughout the company can comment
and ask questions; even executives can
read about what’s going on and weigh in.

Give employees the opportunity to follow
key leaders across the company and converse with them through blogs. E-mail is
viewed as formal, one-way communication
from executives; when an executive blogs
and is authentic in his or her communications employees are more likely to engage
and participate.

How does technology drive productivity?

Blogs, wikis and applications like Twitter
connect dispersed employee groups
through real-time, rapid communications.
These technologies also use a less formal
communications style, which enhances
sharing and productivity. If your company
has invested in a productivity enhancing
application such as customer relationship
management, employees drive sales and
customer service employees toward the
application every time they log in through
customized landing pages.

Finally, during tough economic times,
employees want to help the company, but
they can become worried about the company’s situation and be less productive.
When executives communicate more frequently and transparently, they can allay
employee fears and keep them focused
and productive.

How can executives assess the effectiveness
of their company’s intranet strategies?

There are several ways to measure the
effectiveness of your company’s intranet
strategy. An intranet log analysis will show
which pages are being viewed, how often,
for how long and by whom; this measures
the usability and the level of employee
adoption. Increases in comments and
employee participation often dovetail with
increases in employee engagement levels,
so monitor those. If the site’s search data
indicate that employees are frequently
searching for the same information or
forms, make that information easier to
find, perhaps through a link on the home
page, especially if employees are still making calls to departments like HR and
accounting to seek help. Increases in
employee self-service and fewer calls validate the technology’s effectiveness and
impact in driving productivity.

How can executives assess the ROI?

To measure technology’s impact on business outcomes, correlate each business
unit’s performance goals with its intranet
activity and the participation levels of its
users. Do employees in the most successful units also participate more? Do those
units also have the highest productivity or
customer satisfaction levels? Over time,
data trends will develop that correlate the
use of a collaborative intranet with
employee engagement and the bottom line.
It’s harder to link soft cost savings to technology, but when employee participation
levels and the bottom line are both directionally correct, CEOs can confidently
make the connection.

MICHAEL RUDNICK is the Global Practice Leader for Intranets and Portals at Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Reach him at (203) 977-6206
or [email protected] or follow him at www.twitter.com/michaelrudnick.

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