Employee intranet: The key to an efficient and happy workplace
See how an intranet works
Learn how an intranet works with this short video.
Table of Contents
10 mins read
Wed, Apr 26, '23
In the past few years, more companies have been moving to a fully remote work environment, or at least a combination of in-office and remote work.
At a time when employers are struggling to fill open positions, a work-from-home option could be the benefit that helps companies attract and retain top talent.
While managers and HR professionals may recognize the necessity of remote work, they may also be wondering how to approach onboarding, internal communication, and employee engagement. Is it really possible to have a company culture if most employees never see each other in person?
In this post, we’ll look at how an employee intranet can improve operations, establish a corporate culture, and keep employees engaged. We’ll also explain what essential features to look for when considering an employee intranet for your business.
What is an employee intranet?
An employee intranet is a private platform companies use for internal communication, document management, and knowledge management and sharing. It may be an on-site solution accessible only from the office, or a cloud-based intranet platform that employees can access remotely.
What are the advantages of an employee intranet?
The best employee intranet is not just a project management platform. Its features improve:
Modern intranet platforms include a social component that helps boost engagement. And that’s important, considering 51% of employees don’t feel engaged at work. An employee intranet allows for two-way communication between leadership and employees and facilitates the type of communication that usually occurs in a physical office.
During the pandemic, 42% of the US workforce was fully remote. Companies with remote teams or multiple locations in different time zones and countries can use an employee intranet to create cultural cohesion. That means that employees on opposite sides of the globe have access to the same information, can easily find and contact each other, and understand the company’s values.
In addition to organizational charts, the best intranet platforms include an employee directory with details about each employee. Workers can search for people and find their photo, title, department, and contact information. This level of transparency — the ability to match a face with a name — can help remote workers feel more connected.
When files are stored in a cloud-based employee intranet portal instead of on a local server, they’re easy to access from anywhere. And with a robust search function and cross-app integrations, employees can search for files, conversations, and tasks from within the employee intranet — there’s no need to leave the platform to find information.
Employees who are connected to each other are 20-25% more productive than those who are disconnected. That’s because they’re not losing valuable time hunting for information or waiting for answers. Employee intranet software will empower employees to quickly find key contacts, have conversations in real time, and solve problems.
A study by CareerBuilder found that 36% of businesses don’t have an onboarding process for new hires. With an employee intranet, you can create a seamless self-serve onboarding process, complete with how-to videos, HR policies, and other information new employees need to know. This improves retention of new hires and frees up time for managers and HR professionals to focus on other tasks.
What to look for when choosing an employee intranet
There are many intranet platforms that have similar features, but some of them lack the functionality that remote and hybrid teams need. When comparing intranet platforms, keep an eye out for these useful features:
Onboarding and support
Even the easiest-to-use intranet platforms aren’t 100% intuitive — you need someone to show you how to set it up and answer any questions you have. Look for a platform that offers onboarding packages, as well as ongoing support. (Pro tip: Check out the renewal rate for any employee intranet software you’re considering — if it’s 100% or higher, it probably comes with outstanding support).
Integrations and knowledge access
While an employee intranet fulfills many needs, you might choose to hold onto other platforms your team uses — Slack, Jira, Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, for example. If that’s the case, you’ll want a platform that integrates with your other tools and allows employees to search for information across all of them without leaving the intranet.
When employees are able to personalize their intranet homepage, they are much more likely to engage with the platform. Look for features like a drag-and-drop homepage editor, news feed customization, and team communication channels.
Remote employees can sometimes feel isolated and disconnected from their peers, which is why social collaboration features are a must for an employee intranet platform. With the ability to like, comment on, and share updates, employees can use a company intranet in the same way they’d use popular social media platforms.
A digital workplace doesn’t have to mean feeling disconnected. Employees can use intranet channels to form their own communities, brainstorm ideas, and provide support and encouragement.
With engagement analytics and lifecycle management features, managers can see how employees interact with content and ensure that stale content is archived or updated. You can also set user permissions for pages and channels.
Detailed usage analytics help you learn from your social intranet platform. For example, you can see what types of content generate the most engagement, which channels and pages are most popular, and what search terms are most common across your organization or specific teams.
An employee intranet portal houses personal information, proprietary company knowledge, and an unlimited number of files, so it needs to be a secure and private network. Look for a platform that has ISO 27001 certification (the gold standard in international security), SAML authentication, and an SSL encryption certificate.
If you don’t need every feature available in an intranet platform, look for tiered pricing that allows you to scale up when your team grows or your needs change.
Popular employee intranet solutions
We mentioned earlier that intranet platforms are numerous — now let’s look at a few of them.
Happeo is a social intranet platform, meaning it includes an array of features designed to encourage interaction. Users can like and comment on posts, add emoji, and even schedule a quick video meeting from within a conversation.
Unlike some other intranets, Happeo integrates with both Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace. Workers who spend a lot of time traveling will appreciate the Happeo mobile app, which can send push notifications about important company news. Best of all, Happeo’s customers can expect to be fully using the software within just a few weeks or months, which is a far shorter onboarding time than you’ll find with other platforms.
“The ability to quickly communicate and scale collaboration is second to none. Users across the globe can receive information, connect and collaborate in real time – answer questions quickly and publicly to avoid duplicative emails.”
Director of Marketing and Communications
SharePoint is a Microsoft product that functions well for document management, but it doesn’t fully integrate with Google Workspace, nor does it offer the ability to personalize one’s news feed. Compared to Happeo, it’s also lacking the social components that remote workforces may need.
Compared to SharePoint, Simpplr offers better social interaction features, including the ability to create social channels, personalize news feeds, and identify influencers. It does integrate with Google Workspace — to a degree — but it doesn’t offer integrated editing for Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. It’s also missing some of the collaboration features that Happeo has.
Of the four employee intranets in this section, Confluence is the least robust. It does not integrate with Google Workspace or Office 365, and Slack integration requires an additional purchase. It does include a team wiki that employees can use to collaborate and share information, but its overall use as a social tool is limited.
Employee intranet use case examples
Let’s take a look at how companies have used an employee intranet to accomplish their objectives.
ActivTrak, a company that makes workforce analytics software, was looking for technology that could help them transition to a fully remote work environment. They chose Happeo and have used it to create pages for each department, manage onboarding for their rapidly growing team, and bring cohesion to their team across several time zones.
Industrial tech company Trimble and its 11,000 employees had outgrown static email newsletter communication. Their workforce spans 40 countries and includes employees with a diverse range of backgrounds in a variety of roles. With Happeo’s company intranet, Trimble gave each employee the ability to see the information most relevant to them, without unnecessary clutter. And Trimble developed communication channels to replace the static email blasts.
MINT Dentistry is a group of dental practices in the Dallas and Houston areas, with over 60 locations and 300+ employees. Prior to using Happeo, the organization relied on a home-grown intranet solution and was finding it difficult to keep staff on the same page.
Since implementing Happeo, MINT Dentistry has seen a significant boost in engagement and interaction across different locations. This has helped to ensure that all of MINT Dentistry’s employees feel connected to the organization and its vision, boosting retention, strengthening the company’s employer brand, and ultimately giving it an edge over its competitors.
Sysarb is a SaaS company based in Sweden that advocates for fair pay between genders and provides a tool for pay equity analysis and salary setting. They’re a high-growth company, with four offices in Sweden and hybrid teams.
Before partnering with Happeo, Sysarb had an ad hoc structure for communications and were using links to Dropbox and Slack for all internal communications. This meant information was easily getting lost. And with no process for managing version control, and no central repository for content, employees often weren’t sure they were working on the right version of documents. The company had Sharepoint, but no one was using it.
One of the reasons Sysarb chose Happeo was because of its Microsoft integration, which would allow the Sysarb team to embed their OneDrive documents.. Sysarb leadership also liked Happeo’s UI and knew that would encourage people to use the platform.
See what Happeo's customers are saying
Need more evidence that an employee intranet is right for your business? Visit the Happeo case study page to learn how Happeo has helped companies unite remote offices, facilitate mergers, scale communication, and create happier workplaces.
Employee intranet FAQ
Do employee intranets integrate with other software applications?
Depending on the company intranet software you choose, it may come with integrations for other workplace tools, which can help you to get your team on board.
Happeo, for example, integrates with both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, which means you can collaborate on files from within Happeo and schedule meetings and video calls from within the platform.
Other Happeo integrations include Slack, Jira, Trello, and Webex.
How much do employee intranets cost?
The cost of a new intranet platform varies, especially considering the ROI it can provide. We have a post on this topic that provides more context.
Who uses employee intranet software?
Large organizations — such as healthcare companies, educational institutions, and non-profits — are among the most common employee intranet customers.
What should be included in an employee intranet
An employee intranet should include a robust search function, permission controls, customization options, document management features, and social components.
How much training is required to use an employee intranet?
The best company intranet tools can be used by anyone, regardless of their level of technical expertise. Happeo is built around a user-friendly and intuitive interface, which means its time to launch can be incredibly fast (as little as two weeks, in fact!)
How secure are employee intranets?
At Happeo, we take your security seriously. When you use Happeo, all of your user data is stored securely in Google Cloud.
Happeo has also achieved ISO 27001 certification, an international standard that identifies organizations that have invested in the people, processes, and technology that keep their customer data safe.