It's widely recognized that employee intranets work extremely well for enhancing internal communication:
And, they're very effective for improving employee engagement and company-wide collaboration that spans time and geographic boundaries.
But, did you also know that employee intranet software can help you identify your staff's strengths and weaknesses?
This insight can be immensely helpful when it comes to making team assignments, the performance review process, and determining compensation and promotions. Because of the inherent transparency and interaction that employee intranets offer, they provide a great window into the interests, skills, personalities and likes/dislikes of team members. And, the best part is, it happens naturally, without the "canned" answers that often result when you ask employees directly about their strengths and weaknesses.
So, forget the online surveys, self-assessment tools, and complex psychological evaluations. Here are 6 ways to tap into your existing employee intranet to gain genuine insight into who's good at what, and where some development opportunities exist.
Employee profiles provide an opportunity for employees to tell a little about themselves, offer some insight into their likes/dislikes, self-proclaimed areas of expertise, education, and personal and business interests. In addition, you can get a glimpse into their network—who they have relationships and interact with on a regular basis.
Culling employee profiles can be especially helpful for welcoming new employees during the onboarding process and establishing a sort of baseline for their level of engagement and adoption of the platform from their first day on the job.
Requiring all new hires to complete a thorough profile immediately engages them in the platform, allowing you to identify areas where orientation/educational programs may be needed, and monitor their progress over time.
Take a look at what types and level of content employees offer. Do they ask questions, answer them, share information, encourage other team members? Simply by looking at the types of activity they engage in can provide insight into their expertise, help you identify experts within your organization, and discover opportunities for training or improvement.
For example, if you see one or more individuals constantly asking for advice or assistance with the same issues, it might be a good time to offer some staff development/training.
Gamifying your employee intranet with rewards, recognitions and leaderboards can help draw out previously unknown talents, interests and skills among employees. Rewarding employees for knowledge sharing is a powerful motivator that encourages them to share even more.
FedEx's gamified employee intranet even enabled the company to change the existing culture from one that rewarded having knowledge to one that rewarded sharing knowledge. When employees wrote a blog post, answered questions, or otherwise participated in the platform, they earned badges and points, and then level up to become a recognized expert within the organization. Intranet gamification enabled FedEx to uncover 40 years' worth of knowledge previously tucked away within its walls.
A lot of employers tend to jump to the conclusion that employees who are not very active on the employee intranet are disengaged, poor communicators, technology averse, or not “team players.” But this may not necessarily be the case.
In roughly any social network—even extremely popular and public ones like Facebook—the breakdown of user activity typically is that only 1% are active content creators and less than 10% are commenters who take part in, but don't start, the conversation. The remaining 90% are lurkers – those who prefer to hear/read what their peers have to say, but don't participate. This doesn't necessarily mean they're anti-social. In fact, that may be farthest from the truth. Perhaps they much prefer face-to-face interaction and conversation—and that's great, too. The bottom line, while lack of participation on the employee intranet might at first seem to indicate a weakness, it could actually point to a strength in this group of employees who are much better at face-to-face interaction.
Employees who are encouraging, offer positive reinforcement, constructive criticism, and recognize and praise their peers for achievements are incredibly valuable to an organization. Those who are cynical, degrading, difficult and negative create a caustic atmosphere and it only takes one or two of these bad seeds to undermine the entire culture of an organization.
Employee intranets provide an opportunity for staff members to show their true colors in full, transparent view of everyone else. That means that if you've been hearing rumblings of a Negative Ned or an office bully, monitoring his or her activity on the employee intranet can give you the insight—and firsthand evidence—you need to take appropriate action.
On the other hand, employees who are cheerleaders for their peers might be excellent candidates for management roles, as they clearly understand how best to motivate their team members.
The most innovative and successful organizations know that good ideas don't always have to come from the R&D team. Employees in any department, at any level, may have fantastic ideas for solving problems and developing solutions.
Social intranets can provide an "ideation station" that gives all employees a platform to offer ideas, discuss them with colleagues, and even have them reviewed by management.
For example, the biotech company KeyGene encourages intranet ideation, where designated catalysts review and select the most promising ideas and invite support from others. This gives management a clear indication of employees' creativity, problem-solving ability and willingness to put their ideas "out there" for criticism and/or consideration.
When considering an employee intranet, most companies look primarily at increases in engagement, communication, collaboration, and productivity as key benefits, mostly because these are often the easiest to quantify, which naturally makes them the most obvious and sought-after. While these are certainly worthy of justifying the investment, using your employee intranet to glean insights into your employees' strengths and weaknesses can further increase your ROI, allowing you to get even more value out of something that already makes sense.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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