Summary: Looking to reduce communication overload and increase workplace productivity? Maximize your intranet potential with these top employee communication tools including; discussion forums, company news, event calendar and having a help desk ticketing system.
Before I moved to Sales, I was on the support team at Intranet Connections. In Support, I worked with many companies who were looking to reduce company communication overload and increase workplace productivity. Here are some common reasons for communication overload and some ideas for quick solutions to resolve this issue plaguing so many:
Matt Lotti from Wilson Medical Center knows this feeling all too well. With over 1000 employees, their company dealt with the same frustration that many companies do: their inbox is over flooded with emails addressed to “All Staff”. The important emails are jumbled up with the funny quotes of the day, invitations to company events, and support inquiries (for those of us in IT).
After email threads become too long, inevitably someone calls for a meeting. Suddenly, your day is jam packed with back-to-back meetings, all of which seem to take much longer, and have more stakeholders, than necessary. Rushing through the halls a co-worker asks to chat about the email you sent regarding an upcoming conference, and there you have it – another impromptu meeting.
While communication is important for any business, it takes time, and time is money (please excuse the cliché). So what is the most effective way to communicate? Standing around the coffee pot? Sitting in a three hour meeting over coffee and doughnuts? An email chain between 4 people that eventually gets hidden away in an outlook folder? None of these options sound too appealing (except maybe the doughnuts), but we get so comfortable with the status quo we fail to look for more efficient alternatives.
At Wilson Medical Center, an abundance of emails circulating the office concerned employee events. Using the Event Calendar functionality on their intranet, Wilson Medical Center can reduce the number of emails sent about conferences, team-building events, and fundraisers. The Event Calendar also allows them to upload related event documents, remedying the necessity to copy “All Staff” on event emails.
Other intranet tools that help to limit communication overload are:
Intranet Connections offers an out-of-the-box solution, with many ready to use applications. That being said, our Application Builder and Online Form Builder are tools that allow you to create simple templates with a variety of possibilities. Using the versatile functionality of your intranet applications, there are many ways to customize to improve communication specific to your business needs, decreasing the number of meetings and emails around the office. Here are a few of my favorites:
Couch for sale. Moving this weekend. Free garbage can. Spamming inbox’s with For Sale items may result in the sale of your couch, but it can also frustrate the majority of your co-workers. Building a Buy and Sell Exchange section on your intranet gives employees a place to view posted ads, which reduces the number of mass emails. For those who really like to shop bargains, they can subscribe to this application to receive alerts on all newly posted items. The Buy and Sell Exchange is a favorite at Wilson Medical Center, and have been used to help employees sell items such as; cars, boats, and even horses!
Setting up Department/Team Sites is helpful and can include short-term project deadlines with an Event Calendar, Discussion Forum, and the ability to upload and share documents. Securing this site means only those working on the project can view the site from the Main Menu, and storing the information in one place means it isn’t buried in someone’s inbox.
The front page story of newspaper is rarely a positive one – lighten up the office mood and restore faith in humanity by creating an area where employees can post positive stories from around the web. Or, simply add an RSS feed to your intranet Home Page which pulls in stories from news sites.
You can post gratitude to your employees by creatively implementing Company News as a Gratitude Board. It’s a great addition at thanksgiving, or any time you need a morale boost around the office! Open this application to employees and allow them to post items they are grateful for, comment on other posts, and lighten office spirits in general.
New baby in the office? Smokey the cat did something hilarious? Open up a Photo Album where employees can go to post photos and share with other employees. No more mass emails, and “isn’t she adorable” Reply-All’s – use the comments and ratings functionality of the Photo Album to “ooh and ahhh”!
How will you know when an item has been posted to an application of interest? Adding items to your intranet wouldn’t do much good to increase communication if no one ever saw them. Employees can subscribe to areas that they do care about, so that they are notified either by site alert or by email that there has been new content posted.
Don’t care about a free garbage can? Don’t subscribe to the Buy and Sell Exchange! Love cute baby photos? Make sure you are signed up to receive those new Photo Album posts! By adding items to the intranet, you get to choose which items you’re notified about on a daily basis, and which ones you’d rather leave out of your inbox.
Want to create these items on your site? We have Creative Intranet Ideas for you to try.
How do you increase company communication with your intranet? Let us know using the comments section below.
Editors Note: This post was originally posted on July 4th, 2013 and has been edited for updates and accuracy.