We often get asked: what is the difference between intranet and internal communication?
In simple terms, intranet is a software tool that’s exclusively accessible to employees and allows the storage and sharing of documents and processes; and internal communications is the sharing of information to employees.
The much more interesting, and slightly longer definition sees the two intrinsically linked.
Internal communication has risen to prominence in the last few years, even though it’s actually been around for decades. The difference is that where internal communication used to be seen as an extension of the marketing or HR departments, today it’s a specialized field of expertise.
Effective internal communication has been linked to higher retention rates, increased productivity, and general happiness among employees. The return on investment is simple: happier employees mean happier customers.
Where people often confuse internal communication is in its format. Meetings, posters, newsletters, channels such as Slack, Teams or Whatsapp and even social media in many cases form part of internal communications.
If it’s any type of communication directed to employees; it falls under the mandate of the internal communicator.
We have been in the intranet business for over 20 years. We’ve pretty much seen it all, done it all and created it all.
Our philosophy when it comes to intranet is that it should act as an organization’s “single source of truth”. This means your intranet is the hub of all documents, processes, staff details and simply anything someone in the company might need to or want to know about the company.
In our intranet system we also add a series of collaborative features to give life to the platform. This includes story boards to share videos, articles and insights, polls, events, and meeting updates just to name a few. We believe an intranet should increase employee engagement and be a place where employees can share ideas, discuss roadblocks, and pool collective knowledge to tackle goals together.
Are you starting to see how the lines are matching up with internal communications?
In its most boring form, an intranet simply holds all company documents and policies. In its most exciting, it’s a hub of activity. We want to see people sharing stories and companies being able to shape employee experience.
The State Education Data Center (SEDC) is a splendid example of how you can use your intranet to add to your internal communication efforts. The SEDC’s intranet, PeopleNet is true to its name in that it is truly a digital space for its people.
PeopleNet is used daily as a tool to show employee appreciation and public recognition, scheduling of activities and sharing of updates and photos. The platform is instrumental to regular employee engagement and is the digital hub of the organization.
When the intranet was launched in 2015, the whole company was included with an elaborate launch. Posters were put up all around the office teasing interesting facts about employees to generate interest and excitement. The most intriguing of these was a poster asking people to guess which of their colleagues bungee jumped 150 feet above an alligator pit.
Instead of advertising PeopleNet as an intranet, it was framed as an “employee social directory”. We aren’t saying the success of an intranet is based on an internal advertising campaign, simply that PeopleNet was positioned as a social, fun, and human-centric space from the get-go, and it was received and used as such ever since.
Each company is different, and both intranet and other internal communication efforts need to reflect the company culture.
However, if you want to set up your intranet as space for regular and meaningful engagement, the first step would be to invite and encourage your audience to use the platform in a social capacity.
In the end, all communications are social interactions, even more so when its directed to an internal audience. When you start seeing tools such as your intranet in that light, your internal communication is set to soar.
Read more about the SEDC’s employee engagement strategies to learn more about using intranet for internal communication.