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How to Activate Your Company Culture with an Intranet (in 7 Steps)

9 min read
Mar 24, 2022

A good intranet should function in the same way the proverbial water cooler once did. It should be a place for employees to gather (virtually) to share news, exchange information, and learn more about the company—and each other. All these activities support a healthy corporate culture and help keep employees aligned with an organization's mission and goals. It needs to do more than just look pretty—an intranet is an essential tool for activating company culture.

This was the case when A+ Federal Credit Union (A+FCU) decided that the organization’s 15-year-old portal needed to be reimagined. Although the home page for the portal, known as OWL (for Online Wisdom Link), had an appealing facade, it was riddled with problems: the technology was aging and pages were text heavy, tricky to navigate, and frustrating to use as so many links were broken or neglected. Because of these problems, the credit union’s 450 employees had stopped relying on the intranet and the organization was getting little value from this communications tool.

Although there are many ways to make over a portal, the steps A+FCU took can serve as a launching point for financial institutions looking to improve their own internal communications.

Steps of a Successful Intranet Deployment

Here are the seven steps A+FCU took to make its intranet portal more responsive to the needs of all employees:

Step One: Designate an owner and assemble a team. Redesigning a portal is an ambitious task, one that needs to be spearheaded by an individual who can make sure that voices from different areas of the organization are heard and nothing falls through the cracks. At A+FCU, the owner of the redesign was Internal Communications and Development Specialist Jennifer Hughes. Although she assumed responsibility for the project, she did not go it alone but instead assembled an eight-person team to help her.

Step Two: Get buy-in from leadership. To create a comprehensive business case, key leaders from human resources and the training department had to play a role at early stages in deciding what the new intranet portal would accomplish and how it should fit into the overall culture of the credit union. A+FCU’s overarching goal was to create a central communications hub where employees could stay connected and do their best work.

Step Three: Double down on strategy. Starting with a clean page, a project owner should solicit ideas and then whittle these ideas down to a manageable number. Hughes and her team, for example, eventually narrowed goals to the following four: enabling two-way communications; providing access to current events and up-to-date information; ensuring any solution chosen was scalable; and promoting A+FCU’s branding through the look and feel of the portal.

Step Four: Secure resources and line up an outside partner. Once the intranet team identifies which goals to pursue, it’s time to write a business plan. Getting a detailed business plan approved is key for obtaining necessary resources and hiring the external vendors critical for success.

Step Five: Think branding. A carefully-thought-through intranet is a terrific place for an organization to promote its brand identity. A+FCU, for instance, works off a single template for creating intranet pages, and so each page advances the organization’s branding efforts.

Step Six: Generate excitement. Before unveiling a new intranet, savvy leaders take the time to promote the new portal and make using it as appealing as possible. Before unveiling OWL 2.0, Hughes and her team designed scavenger hunts and other activities so employees could begin learning the new navigation—while having fun.

Step Seven: Provide for the future. The best intranet designs are scalable. When employees work from a single template, it’s easy to add new pages that are consistent with the old pages and that make intuitive sense to all users.

Optimizing an Existing Intranet

In addition to the above tips for launching a new intranet, there are steps you can take to optimize existing ones.

If you’re not already doing so, be sure to routinely poll your employees about how they’re using the intranet, note any issues they might be facing, and request recommendations for improving the service. Carefully consider the feedback you received and share it with additional stakeholders.

Benefits of implementing a company intranet

Business leaders should expect a corporate intranet to deliver tangible value to their financial institution. One of the key areas of value that a corporate intranet can deliver on is employee engagement. How does employee engagement translate into a return on investment for financial institutions? The answer is by improving employee retention, alignment, and recruitment.

Here are 4 reasons to invest in a company intranet.

Intranet Benefit #1: Improved Employee Retention

Employee turnover is expensive.

Almost 70% of organizations indicate staff turnover has a negative impact on their bottom line.  A Deloitte report found that the average cost to replace an employee is around $7,000.  Some SHRM models show that it can cost anywhere between 6 and 9 months of that employee’s salary, on average.

The cost of lost productivity, which is estimated around $120,000 per employee.

According to the most recent annual Emerging Workforce Study by Spherion Staffing, 21% of employees plan to leave their jobs in the next 3 months. And 29% plan to do so in the next 12 months.

If organizations can improve employee retention, they would naturally spend less on turnover costs such as employee recruitment, onboarding and training. If employees readily understood and were aligned with a company’s values, mission, strategy and objectives, they would be more focused, productive and engaged. And this could lead to increased operational efficiency, more effective teamwork and collaboration, and higher revenue and profit margins.

Intranet Benefit #2: Cohesive Employee Alignment

Employee alignment with an organization’s goals and objectives connects them to your mission.

When employees understand your FI’s long-term goals, they gain clarity on what to prioritize and how to make a difference. This sense of mission helps them perform their jobs better and feel more invested, committed, and accountable to their teammates.

Employee alignment supports and improves the employee experience.

A Bersin by Deloitte study found organizations are 4 times more likely to rank in the top quartile of business outcomes when they make it easy for employees to set clear goals. Companies with aligned, high-performing employees are 2.2 times more likely to be top performers compared with the competition.

An older SHRM article stated “Employee alignment is essential to effective performance and profitability. Alignment is the bridge between strategy and execution.” How profitably your organization performs depends greatly on how well aligned all your business elements are - from leadership to the organization, its jobs and the people.

A Gallup Workplace Insights report recently cited that only 33% of global employees strongly agreed with the statement, “The mission and purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important."

By moving that ratio to 80% of employees, business units have realized a 51% reduction in absenteeism, a 64% drop in safety incidents and a 29% improvement in quality.

Intranet Benefit #3: Stronger, More Effective Recruitment

It’s easy to push a company intranet program down on the priority list, thinking that there are bigger problems to tackle. Before you decide to settle for the status quo in this arena, let’s take a moment to discuss the risks of doing nothing. Think of it as an iceberg. You’re only seeing or addressing part of the problem. What lies beneath the surface may have a greater, more negative impact.

If your FI does nothing to improve employee retention, alignment, and communication, you stand the chance of losing your competitive edge. Making a concerted effort to build an authentic culture to attract, engage and retain your employees also translates into gains for recruitment.

According to a recent article , “Strong company cultures are magnets for employees, both prospective and current.” Therefore, any tool that helps support and sustain your company culture and its values can provide your company with a significant competitive advantage. And in an increasingly cutthroat talent market, your financial institution needs all the advantage it can get.

Intranet Benefit #4: Improved Employee Engagement

It's no secret that employee engagement is important. After all, engaged employees are more productive, more satisfied with their jobs, and less likely to leave their company. So it stands to reason that anything that can improve employee engagement is worth considering –- and that's where company intranets come in.

Intranets are essentially private, internal websites that are only accessible to employees of a company. They can be used for a variety of purposes, including communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. And when it comes to employee engagement, intranets can be extremely powerful tools.

For one thing, intranets make it easy for employees to find the information they need. Whether they're looking for the contact information for a colleague or trying to find the latest company policy, everything is just a few clicks away. This can save a lot of time and frustration, and make it much easier for employees to do their jobs.

Intranets can also help improve communication between employees and managers. In most cases, intranets have built-in messaging systems that make it easy to send messages and files back and forth. This can be a great way to keep everyone on the same page, and make sure that everyone is aware of important company news and updates.

Finally, intranets can help promote employee collaboration. In many cases, intranets include features like forums and chat rooms that make it easy for employees to work together on projects. This can be a great way to improve employee engagement, as it gives employees a chance to interact with each other and feel like they're part of a team.

Each of these actions can improve Employee Engagement, which Gallup has found to lead to 21% less turnover, 10% higher customer ratings, 25% higher productivity, and 37% lower absenteeism. That’s a big boost to company culture.

Related: How a Company Intranet can Improve Employee Efficiency by up to 30%

Important Features of a Company Intranet

The following are critical features every high-quality intranet service should include:

Intranet Feature #1: Easily Sends Announcements

Your intranet should allow you to send announcements and discussions directly through your intranet — saving your, and your employees' inboxes.

Intranet Feature #2: Built for Financial Institutions

Mortgage lenders, banks, credit unions, and fintechs of all types should use a company intranet that’s designed for their unique industry. Generic, one-size-fits-all solutions simply don’t work for financial institutions.

Intranet Feature #3: Easy-to-Use Content Editor

You shouldn’t need coding skills to create rich content. With a quality intranet like Nconnect, every team (and team member) can contribute to your community without having a background in development.

Intranet Feature #4: Supports a Culture of Compliance

Any company intranet you consider should help you create a culture of compliance by managing policies and procedures through automated workflows and reporting. If these features are absent, look elsewhere for your solution.

Related: How a Company Intranet Can Help Create a Culture of Compliance and Mitigate Risk

Intranet Feature #5: Advanced Reporting and Performance Monitoring

Quality corporate intranets provide your financial institution with access to the metrics you need to understand the performance of your organization, track goals, and set strategic objectives.

In Summary

By focusing your business strategy on employee engagement and aligning your intranet objectives with your business strategy, you should be able to measure the success of your intranet by how well you achieve your business objectives and enhancements to company culture.

When we look at the successful outcomes an intranet has on businesses and organizations, it is easy to see how employee productivity, employee retention, and customer satisfaction can all be positively impacted by the tools an intranet can provide.

A company intranet needs to be more than just a pretty face. Its purpose is to help support an active corporate culture that engages employees and aligns with business goals. At A+FCU, the new OWL does just that. “Our intranet is a direct reflection of who we are as an organization and how we choose to work with one another,” said Hughes.

Following the model of the seven steps taken by A+FCU may help ensure that your intranet is received well, utilized fully, and positioned to meet your objectives today and well into the future.

Fintechs Lead the Way for Digital Transformation in Financial Institutions

Read more about how A+FCU transformed its intranet portal


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