Is the information you need to excel at your job always at your fingertips?
That’s the idea behind the digital workplace—a trendy buzzword that gets you to think about what’s it like for your employees to interact with the company via an intranet. How quickly can they get in touch with each other, find documents, and get questions answered? How do they like the experience?
As consumers, we’re addicted to well-designed websites. We spend more time shopping Amazon, browsing YouTube, and socializing on Facebook because it’s just so easy to do. Who is to say we wouldn’t work harder if our employer’s digital interfaces were equally enticing?
That’s why companies, like Boston-based Liberty Mutual, are investing in futuristic intranets complete with bots and digital assistants. Liberty Mutual is the winner of the 2018 Intranet and Digital Workplace Showcase Platinum Award. According to digital workplace consultancy Step Two, the company owes this high honor to:
“A state-of-the-art digital assistant and chatbot aggregating notifications, key HR data, personal information and more from multiple systems across the digital workplace, built on microservices architecture and delivered via the intranet.” 1
A boring insurance company is not necessarily the first place you’d look for supercool office technology. But that’s precisely the point! Liberty Mutual is a multinational corporation competing for top talent with all the big name brands on the map. It’s just the kind of employer to walk an extra mile to set itself apart. (For more ways to improve the employee experience, see “Should You Let Employees Bring Pets to Work?” And don’t forget to browse my book, Who the Hell Wants to Work for You?)
Here are some of the features the winning sites offer their employees:
- Online chats with executives, peer recognition, gamification (Vodafone Ukraine)
- Enhanced search (3M)
- Sales funnel, employee onboarding site (Ramboll, Denmark)
- Personalized dashboards (Ascham, Australia)
- Integrated HR dashboard (Cox Communications)
- A mobile app available on employee-owned devices (MITRE Corporation)
- A learning program to teach digital workplace skills to employees (NEXTDC, Australia)
- A desktop and mobile app to support employee safety and compliance in operating heavy machinery out in the field (TransGrid, Australia)
- Connecting field workers (Scottish Water, UK)
- A personalized intranet, significant efficiencies gained through extensive use of forms. (South Wales Police, UK)
- A huge internal collection of marketing knowledge and reports (IBM)
- Core business process management (Moving Made Easy, UK)
- Helping employees offer personalized advice to customers (Vodafone, Germany)
- Seamless presentation of national and regional content (Danish National police)
On the surface, these may look like a random pile of bells and whistles. As you read through the details, however, you will notice something extraordinary about the winning sites: they all seem to zero in on key business success factors.
Take the South Wales and Danish National police, for example. What made them invest in state-of-the-art digital workplaces? To answer this question, let’s look at the problems the new features solve for police officers.
A less glamorous part of an officer’s workday is the vast amount of red tape that comes with the job. South Wales Police uses its intranet to provide forms and help officers cut through the paperwork, leaving them more time to catch criminals and protect law-abiding citizens.
Meanwhile, their Danish colleagues focus on “seamless presentation of national and regional content.” Just a nice touch, or…? Recall that each officer is assigned to a specific neighborhood, so local updates are crucial. But crime is a nationwide problem; keeping up with the national scene prepares the officers for what’s coming to their backyard. Additionally, both sites offer a personalized intranet, yet another way to help the officers stay focused on their most important tasks.
TransGrid prides itself on reliable electricity transmission across Australia. To deliver on its promise the company employs hundreds of field workers who maintain a proprietary network of high-voltage power lines around the clock. Accordingly, TransGrid’s intranet provides “a desktop and mobile app to support employee safety and compliance in operating heavy machinery out in the field.”
Ever since IBM sold its signature PC business to Lenovo, it’s been trying to rebrand itself as a business services provider. So, it’s hardly a coincidence that the company’s award-winning intranet centers on marketing. Differentiating itself among competitors and creating a new brand identity are mission critical to IBM.
I could go on and on pointing out how these sites are not just shiny new toys, but serious business tools as well. So there’s your formula for intranet success:
Mission-critical functionality + shiny new toy = intranet ROI
How do I know investing in these sites paid off? One of the factors in deciding the winners was the adoption rate among employees. When you see your people regularly signing onto the intranet and taking advantage of the information and tools, it probably means you’re getting your money’s worth.
Voluntary participation is a pretty good indicator that the intranet is helping your employees do their jobs. Whether or not you get it depends in large part on what you put on your system. That’s why when people ask me what the ROI of their new intranet is going to be, my shoulders start creeping up to my ears.
It’s entirely up to you. What problem are you looking to solve? How much money will you save, and how much new business will you bring in by solving this problem? You tell us what process you want to improve. We build a better process into the software. Your employees follow the process. You make money. To put together a business case for your digital workplace, read this post on “How to Make Your Intranet Work for You.“
You decide what’s mission critical for you. We’ll provide the shiny new toys.
If you like a productive workplace, you might like my book, because it shows you how to stop wasting your time.