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How to Use Your Intranet for Employee Empathy & Communication

Checking in with your employees — especially in the quagmire of a pandemic — is an effective way to use your intranet to increase engagement and open doors to meaningful feedback that can move your organization forward.

Intranets have historically been a repository of documents and policies. But in the 21st century, many have transitioned to be more cohesive, interactive portals that help employees feel engaged, informed, and valued.

But even still, many live in antiquated or homegrown platforms or disorganized SharePoint sites.

Build a Case for an Empathetic Intranet

These poor experiences can transfer into employee satisfaction, too.  A survey from Limeade found that 31% of employees across industries feel that their employers cared about them as individuals.

You’re probably shaking your head because of course you care about your team and employees. But how are you connecting that empathy to their everyday needs? Part of that empathy should include checking in with your teams on a regular basis.

Sure, a quick chat in a hallway may do the trick. Or maybe your organization is ready to implement a “voice of employee (VoE)” program, which uses that feedback to institute change, from your intranet functionality to overarching goals and employee satisfaction.

Don’t get overwhelmed – let’s take a smaller bite from that statement and start with your intranet.

Your Intranet Can Make or Break Employee Satisfaction

Your intranet is one of many pieces of your employee’s everyday experience. A poor intranet can cost millions in lost productivity, while a well-developed and designed one can increase profitability by nearly 21%.

In the difficult challenges of a worldwide pandemic, employee satisfaction is crucial. The unknowns of the world causes stress at home, but the ever-changing world of health care during COVID-19 is another layer. Employees want confidence to do their job, but also need assurance that their organization, team, and manager has their back.

Your intranet should be a tool in that source of relief, not a frustration. This means redesigning your intranet is a big step (maybe too big right now), but at least moving the needle toward engaging employees in new ways should be on the top of your list.

Set Up an Ongoing Survey

You probably know how your immediate peers and teams are doing based on everyday interaction or meetings, but have you checked in with everyone? Does your executive team know how employees are coping with stress and anxieties amidst the pandemic?

An online survey is a great place to begin. A survey opens the door to employees to provide feedback. Here are a few tips if you’re considering to start with a survey:

  • Keep the survey brief. Three or four open-ended questions, or a couple of range (i.e. – strongly disagree to strongly agree) or multiple choice questions will work
  • Understand the variables you’ll receive. Not every response will give you a wealth of data, so consider breaking surveys up into multiple iterations to dig deeper
  • Offer alternatives for feedback. If an online survey isn’t the best option for an employee, make sure they have another route to provide feedback, such as to their direct manager, or to human resources
  • Don’t focus solely on the pandemic. Message the survey as a response to the crisis, but also consider making it a permanent part of your employee engagement rotation — and let them know this when you send out your first one

Check out this helpful list of employee survey recommendations to help you strategize your survey.

HIPAA-complaint tools, like Formulate, are a great place to start if you haven’t used an online survey in your intranet before. Whether you offer multiple choice questions or open text fields for people to provide free-flowing thoughts, it’s a consistent way to gather information and extend an empathetic ear to your teams and employees.

Open Yourself Up to Meetings or Video Calls

No matter if your employees are working on your hospital campus or working from home, creating a pathway for them to meet with you one-on-one is essential right now. Your intranet or calendar can help you do exactly that.

By opening your door to informal check-ins and chats with your team, you’re displaying not only a tremendous amount of empathy, but creating an engaging conversation that can help your team operate more efficiently and compassionately.

Use your employee profile on your intranet and your calendar, if you have system like Outlook that allows you to block sections of your day, to note any open office hours, for example, where you’re available to take meetings with your team, specifically. Tell your team — in meetings or in email — about your new open-door policy to help them manage their stress and concerns.

No, you’re not expected to be a mental health counselor per se, but being a manager who lets their teammates share their anxieties and concern can have a great effect on their morale and mental health and help curb burnout.

Invest in an Intranet Blog

If your intranet is responsive and built on a system that allows it, consider implementing an intranet blog. Blogging may not be a top priority right now, but building an engaging space for stories and answers to employee questions can be helpful.

Gallup found that 74% of employees feel they’re missing out on company news. This is either because it’s not easy accessible, such as a printed PDF, or they’re too busy with their daily tasks to feel caught up with what’s going on in the organization.

Henry Mayo in Valencia, California did exactly that with the Ask the CEO section of their intranet. Employees are encouraged to send questions to their CEO, Roger Seaver, which he answers on a regular basis through the intranet’s blog.

If receiving and answering questions is a lot to ask of your leadership team right now, consider opening a leadership blog. This allows stakeholders to discuss any topics or concerns directly. This type of transparent communication doesn’t only engage employees, it also builds trust, understanding, and empathy, especially during a difficult crisis like COVID-19.

Provide a Manual Feedback Option

If an online survey and updating the intranet is a lot to ask right now, consider an old-school method of feedback cards. Consider, for example:

  • Printed feedback cards that employees can fill out and return to their managers or in private locked boxes in common spaces.
  • Hold team meetings that open the floor for employees to talk about whatever is on their mind, including any anxieties or lingering questions they want answered.
  • Share your office hours, email address, and phone number on your employee profile in your organization’s intranet, so it’s easy for someone to get in touch with you when they need to — especially your employees.

Get Started on Engaging Your Employees

If you’re reading this and feeling like it’s time to build or reinvent a more engaging employee intranet that builds bridges and not frustrations, you’re in the right place. Contact Geonetric and set up an intranet consultation call or learn about the many services — from intranet design to employee surveys — that we can do for you.

How to Use Your Intranet for Employee Empathy & Communication