survey results: your dull intranet is failing you

We carried out a survey on intranets with digital collaboration platform and social intranet provider Knowledge Hub. The findings are surprising and should alarm internal comms and those at the top of every organisation. People in 2015 want something different to what they are getting.

by Dan Slee

Too dull, too corporate and too uncollaborative… today’s intranet is too often failing today’s employees.

That’s the message from the comms2point0 / Knowledge Hub survey of almost 80 communications and PR workers.

Yet, the silver lining of the study is that employees are still crying out for a space that helps them work, collaborate and do their job more effectively. It’s just that many don’t have that.

What prompted the survey?

Ask someone about their intranet and you’re often met with a roll of the eyes and a shrug of the shoulder.There is little love for the overlooked corporate internal channel. It’s often an unthought through repository for hard-to-find information.

A session at commscamp earlier this year saw people pour scorn on the channel. But what would the science say? We joined forces with Knowledge Hub to run a survey amongst the comms2point0 community. The grim results may be surprising to some.

Most places have an elderly intranet... and not everyone can see it

Almost everyone - 97 per cent - had an intranet. But reach was far from universal. Almost four in ten worked in organisations where less than 75 per cent of staff can see their intranet.

More than 60 per cent of people can’t access their intranet while on the go from outside the corporate network. In a mobile landscape with an agile workforce it feels as though many intranets have been left behind.  

They’re also elderly. Almost 40 per cent of intranets are more than five years old with just nine per cent less than 12-months old since they were launched.

We like our website more than our intranet

It’s clear that people don’t much care for the corporate intranet. Asked to give it a mark out of 10 the average for an intranet was 3.81. Asked to rank their organisation’s website the figure rose to 6.61 per cent. Not a ringing endorsement but staff like it better than the internal version.

‘Dull, corporate and uncollaborative’

When we asked people to tick which words described their intranet. Dull (72 per cent), corporate (57 per cent), and hard-to-use and uncollaborative (both 54 per cent) were top four results.

Positive words? Just 3 per cent said theirs was ‘exciting’ while 14 per cent rated it as easy to use and 11 per cent informative.

This response confirms the feeling that intranets are not great places valued by most staff.  Even these figures may come as a surprise to most internal comms teams as just 25 per cent evaluate how effective intranets are.

But what do staff want their intranets to do?

More positive feedback came when we asked what people wanted. Almost everyone wanted a place to help them do their job better (92 per cent) while 86 per cent wanted a place to collaborate.

So, what’s stopping the collaborative intranet?

A collaborative internal space means people talking to each other, sharing ideas and updates online. The biggest barrier? Most fingers were pointed at those at the top of the organisation. More than 50 per cent with fear over staff wasting time and lack of budget cited by almost half.

IT was the third largest barrier with almost 40 per cent, and just over a third indicated that there was a fear of inappropriate behaviour.

So, the route to a collaborative intranet starts with the chief exec assured it won’t be a waste of time or be too expensive. IT then need to be reassured.

Happily, comms (7 per cent) and HR (15 per cent) didn’t emerge as significant blockers.

Intranets are 8th most effective internal comms channel  

Of course, there is an argument that the poor intranet isn’t the end of the world as people would far rather use other channels to reach staff.

The most effective? One-to-one briefings with managers with a rating of 7.17 marks out of 10 for effectiveness. Emails within the team came in at 6.97 with team meetings 6.77 and email within the service area 6.37. Team away days lagged at 5.46, service awaydays 4.66, intranets 4.33, service area conferences 4.30 and noticeboards 3.83 as least effective.

The message is clear: use other channels other than just the intranet to effectively reach staff. The face-to-face chat is best. The service area conference? Less so.

In conclusion

Unloved, hard to access and hard to navigate when you can. Our intranets are unsocial and dull places based on legacy tech that leave staff turning to other channels to effectively engage.

Yet, it is clear staff are yearning are a space to collaborate and help them do their job. They want to talk to each other online. With a workforce encouraged to hot desk and work remotely the poor intranet is the web 1.0 problem to a web 2.0 challenge.

Isn’t it about time this changed?

The comms2point0 / Knowledge Hub stats breakdown

How many employees do you have in your organisation?

Less than 500 21 per cent

Between 500 and 2,000 20 per cent

Between 2,000 and 5,000 26 per cent

Between 5,000 and 10,000 23 per cent

More than 10,000 10 per cent

 

Do you have an intranet?

Yes 97 per cent

No 3 per cent

Don’t know 0 per cent

 

Roughly, what is the percentage of staff who can access the intranet?

0-25 per cent 1 per cent

25 to 50 per cent 7 per cent

50-75 per cent 27 per cent

75-100 per cent 49 per cent

Don’t know 16 per cent

 

How would you rate your website and intranet out of 10 with 10 the highest?

External website 6.61

Intranet 3.81

 

Can your intranet be accessed from outside the corporate network when you need to?

Yes: 32 per cent

No 61 per cent

Don’t know 8 per cent

 

Which words describe your intranet? Pick as many as you like.

Helpful 21 per cent

Unhelpful 34 per cent

Hard to use 54 per cent

Easy to use 14 per cent

Informative 30 per cent

Uninformative 10 per cent

Dull 72 per cent

Exciting 3 per cent

Corporate 58 per cent

Human 5 per cent

Collaborative 7 per cent

Uncollaborative 54 per cent

 

In an ideal world, what would your intranet do? Tick as many as you think apply.

A place to help you do your job better 92 per cent

A place to help you collaborate 86 per cent

A place that’s a social space 65 per cent

A place to keep you informed 95 per cent

A| place to tell you corporate messages 71 per cent

A place that’s a library of forms and information 62 per cent

An A-Z directory for the organisation 60 per cent

 

Thinking about it, what would stop you having a social space as a place to collaborate?

Lack of senior management buy-in 54 per cent

Lack of budget 44 per cent

Fear over in appropriate behaviour 35 per cent

Fear over staff wasting time 46 per cent

Lack of tech skills to use it 22 per cent

Our IT wouldn’t like it 40 per cent

Our HR don’t like it 15 per cent

 

How effective are your internal comms channels? Rate each one you use out of 10 with the best 10

Intranet 4.33

Email within the team 6.97

Email within the service area 6.37

All staff email 5.83

Team meetings 6.77

Team awaydays 5.46

Service area awaydays 4.66

Service area conferences 4.30

A social tool  3.96

Notice boards 3.83

One-to-one briefings with managers 7.17

 

Do you evaluate your intranet to see how well it is working?

Yes 25 per cent

No 51 per cent

Don’t know 24 per cent

 

How old is your intranet?

Less than 12-months 9 per cent

Between one and three-years-old 22 per cent

Between three and five-years-old 18 per cent

More than five years 26 per cent

More than 10 years 13 per cent

Don’t know 12 per cent

The survey was collected in April 2015 through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and email amongst the comms2point0 community and includes 77 responses. 

Dan Slee is co-creator of comms2point0.