Below from IBF’s Intranet Life blog and Globally Local, by Jane McConnell, author of Global Intranet Trends for 2010.
The changing demographics in the workplace (brain drain) and heighted focus on worker efficiency is bringing the corporate intranet into the spotlight.
From my trusted sources comes a few tales of how companies are breaking down the borders between internal and external communications, along with attaching the ROI to such. Lastly, trends to look out for.
Sun: Realizing the intranet of the future
Known as Project 90/10, Sun is turning over ownership of the intranet to employees (that’s the 90 percent) instead of corporate communications (which will become the 10 percent). The intranet, they say, will become an aggregation point like a Netvibes or iGoogle page on the Web. The borders between internal and external are coming down too: Employees will be able to aggregate external content such as Facebook alongside internal content such as corporate news.
For Sun, it’s all about orienting the intranet toward the employee of the future. “The type of employee we’ll be seeing in five years, and are already seeing a lot of today, will be very familiar with social tools. They will want to get corporate news but also to share and play, to have fun and connect,” says McKenzie. Social media are at the heart of this vision, but where most companies struggle to come up with meaningful measures of ROI, Sun is introducing the Community Equity tool. This tracks both the level of participation and the value of contributions by employees. “It will be a powerful tool for us,” he adds. “For example, as a manager deciding who to promote, I can see who is contributing and participating.
Nissan: Democratizing communication
At Nissan, the intranet is a central hub providing employees with access to the information and tools to do their jobs-from workflow and processes to project management and virtual meetings. The vision for Nissan’s intranet is straightforward: to enable employees to connect and engage in a dialogue. “I think that without the intranet it would be almost impossible to run the organization,” says Simon Sproule, corporate vice president of global communication.
Nissan’s internal social network, N-Square, is bringing fundamental changes to the way of working at Nissan by breaking down hierarchical, functional and regional barriers. Interactions that would not have happened previously-such as dialogue between senior executives and employees, or across functions–are now happening in a way that employees are comfortable with and find convenient.
“In the same way that you may watch the inauguration of Obama on CNN and then go and visit other news sites and blogs to get a different perspective, so internal communications needs to become a trusted brand within the company,” says Sproule. He sees the internal communication brand, N-Com, not as being in competition with the democratized dissemination of information via employee blogs and profiles, but as adding value by providing a timely, relevant and trusted news service.
The Global Intranet Trends for 2010 report is subtitled ‘Towards the workplace web’. This phrase reflects what is happening today in intranets around the world as organizations are positioning the intranet as the entry point into the organization’s ensemble of information, applications, collaboration and communication tools.
The intranet is starting to be “business as usual” and thereby involving more high-level stakeholders in the organization. The ownership model is slowly moving away from the single owner model (usually communication). Forty percent of the organizations do still have this model but another 30 percent have a co-owner model where two or three functions share ownership.
The third model, which is cross-organizational with all major functions and divisions represented, exists in 15 percent. Although used less than the first two models, it is more often found in organizations with mature intranets
Approximately one third of the organizations have a high-level intranet Steering Committee. The senior level presence on this body has increased over the last year reaching 60 percent, with middle management and operational management decreasing slightly. This trend has continued since 2007 when the senior level presence was around 35 percent.
There are a number of indicators showing that the employee voice is being given some room in the intranet. Two examples:
“Commenting on official content” such as letting employees publish comments and questions about articles written by management is “in general use” in 20 percent of the organizations. Another 20 percent are testing it or have it “in some parts” of their organization.
Internal social network applications (similar to Facebook or Linkedin) are not often found to be “in general use throughout the organization”. However they are likely to increase as 30 percent of the organizations are currently testing or “using in some parts”.
Twenty-five to 30 percent of organizations that have already implemented some form of social media have experienced 3 general benefits: increased employee engagement, more effective knowledge sharing, and better-informed employees. Stories “from the front lines” are shared in the report.
A few organizations have begun to measure the impact of social media and although the examples are rare in number, they provide insight on how the pioneers are making social media part of business as usual.
Concerns are changing as organizations gain experience. Doubts are considerably lower about the relevance of social media to business needs, senior management hesitancy and employees wasting their time. At the same time there is a higher degree of concern about two things: the difficulty of finding information and potential user resistance.
Organizations in the planning stages for social media usage have very high expectations for benefits. Their expectations are far greater than what the “implementers” have seen so far. There seems to be a potential risk of disappointment.
Technologies such as presence indicators, instant messaging and web conferencing are found more frequently the more mature intranets. Some organizations feel they have reached a level of “optimization” for certain real-time technologies.
Intranets are leaving the workplace, or rather the workplace is being extended to where the people are. People do not need to be in the office in front of a computer to be able to use the intranet. Home access is possible in over one third of the organizations and smart phone access is just starting.
Some intranets have services for smart phones today, but the vast majority do not. However, twenty-five percent of the organizations in the survey say they are in the planning stages of making the intranet accessible through smart phones and PDAs.
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All signs are pointing to the intranet as being a critical hub in the dialogue, as opposed to a repository of dated information and downloadable forms. The opportunity for branding and alignment of business strategy with human capital presents a myriad of ways we can make an sustainable impact in 2010.
Lets get planning
In reality, your company only gets to have one brand. It’s not as if you can have a consumer brand that targets consumers, an employer brand that targets employees, an investor brand that targets investors, and a vendor brand that targets vendors. You can’t simply build a different brand with a different meaning for each audience.
The reason? No one thinks that way. You only get one reputation. We don’t isolate our opinion of a company as an employer from our opinion of it as a product maker or service provider. We balance everything we know about a company and determine one attitude towards it. Wal-mart’s reputation as an employer doesn’t just hurt its talent acquisition; it deters some people from shopping there. Conversely, Oldsmobile’s inability to create desirable cars didn’t just hurt its sales figures; it made attracting top engineering talent very difficult.
Not surprisingly, employee loyalty and customer loyalty are highly correlated. It only makes sense to think of the brand holistically.
* Studies show a high correlation between consumers’ admiration for a company’s product and their willingness to work for that company and vice versa.
Since there’s only one brand for many targets, every department from HR to PR is thus a stakeholder in your brand. They all have a responsibility to hold up their part of your company’s reputation and their cohesion is critical. We can’t have the HR people scurrying around building a brand that clashes with what the marketing people or the PR people are doing.
The term “employer brand” merely speaks to HR’s responsibility as a stakeholder for the overall brand. HR owns the task of conveying the brand in a compelling way to the labor market.
It’s important to remember that your brand already exists. Employer branding is not about starting from scratch – trying to conjure up some positioning that you think employees will find engaging. You already have a culture, a vision, and values (and they’re all already being communicated by other departments). Your employees already have a certain attitude towards the company. Jobseekers already have preconceptions. The first step is simply to figure out what these things really are. A little hint for you … it’s not what’s written on your website.
** For help, BRANDEMiX is here.