Internal Communications: How good tech can improve company culture and encourage employee engagement & productivity
by Matt Oxley, co-Founder & Director of UX & digital agency DotLabel www.dotlabel.co.uk
How many times have we heard people emphasising the importance of building and maintaining a good company culture? We intuitively know that it impacts employee engagement and retention rates, but establishing the right culture isn’t easy. Constructing successful communication channels seems to be key and technology can point the way to creating and sustaining a culture which works for everyone within the business.
As technology has improved over the decades, it has allowed fingertip access to a wealth of knowledge. The ability to obtain information quickly and efficiently is crucial in the workplace and technology has become indispensable there too, not least because it can be used to generate and maintain a shared, unified vision across all levels of staff irrespective of location or team focus. New technologies and apps mean that information can be easily shared among teams and across departments with ease. Collaborative apps such as Slack, Evernote, Trello and Workplace by Facebook help teams to work efficiently on projects and to break down hierarchical barriers, with senior managers conversing with and providing direct feedback to junior colleagues.
Technology can also support businesses to combat the issue of low staff engagement levels; with 85% of global employees claiming that they are not actively engaged at work* this is one of the major concerns in any workplace. A technological tool in the form of an internal communication platform is the ideal place to start improving employee engagement.
Aptly referred to as “Social Intranet”, it’s a digital product that can be designed to the specifications of a business and place its employees at the centre of the solution to enable the business to benefit from effective communication, information sharing and collaboration within a single platform. At DotLabel, we have compiled a guide to arm businesses with actionable advice on kick-starting a social intranet project with a focus on creating great user experience, optimising engagement and driving productivity.
Facilitating engagement, information sharing and collaboration
The workplace is no longer just a physical space that houses employees during office hours. The term nowadays is used for any location which allows employees to successfully carry out work-related tasks and feedback their ongoing projects and output to their team and wider company. Technology has made instant connectivity and easy access possible and has led to the creation of a digital workplace environment. A social intranet reinforces such working practices and serves as a pool of information for workers to use and contribute to.
A common platform ensures engagement, the impact of which is all-encompassing. Engagement at work is about conversing, exchanging ideas and being involved in projects as these evolve; it has to do with building and sustaining a community feel so that employees do not feel isolated; and it means that businesses can share rules, processes, regulations and goals they can expect to be understood and followed by all employees.
As with client-facing online technology, the internal user journey and experiential factors of a social intranet must be correctly designed from the outset, offering numerous different paths to facilitate a collaborative work ethic. If everyone is to buy into and fully exploit the technologies at their disposal, then interfaces, access levels and system integration must deliver a consistent and relevant experience at all levels of the organisation.
Highlighting opportunity, realising potential and boosting productivity
Ultimately, all of us need to feel valued at work and to know that we are being provided with the opportunity and the tools we need to realise our potential. Technology can be an effective way to open and maintain the dialogue at all levels, demonstrating that our wellbeing and career goals actually matter to the senior team. Collaborative technology means that making an appointment to discuss an issue, viewing potential future career paths throughout the organisation and firing a quick question over to a colleague is now only a tap away. A truly effective workplace culture will deliver a clear understanding as to what management and teams hope to achieve over the course of the next few years. Adopting an employee-focused, transparent and consistent check-in style approach is a far better avenue for management than continuing to rely on annual reviews when things can change so quickly.
A well designed social intranet developed with its users in mind, aims to improve productivity in the workplace by congregating information in one central point of reference and guiding them to specified areas with search engines and categorisation of information. This means workers cannot only carry out their tasks but they can do so efficiently. It also allows people to work remotely, provided this option was considered during its planning and design stages.
Offering individualised space and supporting progress
With the right research and planning, the social intranet can be designed to be personalised. This means it will follow an employee’s online journeys to create a customised hub, a digital workplace that will host information pertinent to the individual’s area of work. It can provide immediate access to updates and highlights in one’s industry and be programmed to present them with their preferred news and websites, offering a tailored experience. Taking this a step further, regular flow of information on the intranet can inform managers about training and career opportunities they can offer to support employee development in the workplace.
The right culture builds a resilient and united workforce, with the skills required to overcome challenges and achieve tangible results. Technology is no longer merely an enabler in achieving this; it’s a prerequisite. A social intranet serves as a central point of communication and is pivotal to the culture an organisation stands for. Its design, therefore, should take a user-centred approach to ensure it serves the goals of the business and addresses staff needs and expectations. Investment in user experience (UX) is one the most important elements to consider as it directly affects whether users continue to communicate via the platform and take interest in the company’s projects. It’s about understanding what management and employees are trying to achieve and making their experience as effortless as possible.