11 ways to get employees to use the intranet

*Live conference blog, please excuse typos.

Content from Ragan’s Annual Corporate Communicators Conference

11 ways to make your intranet the place to be

Determining what to post on your company’s intranet is no easy task. Karen Lee, senior director of internal communications at SAS, shares fun, proven ways to encourage employees to actually use the company’s intranet. 

“We want to be social and we want people’s voices to be heard at SAS,” says Lee. She shares 11 ideas that work for SAS:

1. Provide live coverage. The SAS intranet features live stories that provide timely updates. For example, live updates that employees could subscribe to were posted from a managers’ meeting. Lee explains that this reduces rumors and helps employees stay in the loop.

2. Ask employees to share their stories. Some of the top stories on the SAS intranet are the stories employees share. “On the Stage” is a popular series that highlights employees who are also professional musicians. To submit a story, employees simply fill out a pre-made template. 

3. Share images. Lee used the intranet to house a “picture of the day” competition and received an overwhelming response. Employees submitted 4,800 pictures from around the world. Photo and video contests also provide visual assets for websites and collateral.

4. Think outside the box. SAS has an employee, Ed Summers, who is legally blind. Lee and team created a blog post for his dog,”Willie the seeing eye dog.” This post was incredibly popular. Here’s an excerpt from the blog post:

Interviewer: “What’s your favorite thing about coming to work?”

Willie the seeing eye dog: “I love lunch. Sometimes I find bits of food on the cafeteria floor and snatch them up before the blind guy sees. Please don’t blow my cover.”

5. Connect with executives. One of SAS’ executives was a college gymnast. Lee and team posted a photo of him and encouraged employees to guess who it was. More executives began to share stories about themselves after this. 

6. Celebrate quirky holidays. SAS celebrated Pie Day (March 14, or 3.14). This included “pie in the face” posts, contests and more. Another example of how SAS celebrates quirkiness is its Talk Like a Pirate Day. Employees could use a translator housed on the intranet that translated sentences into pirate speak.

7. Try a new approach to an old topic. On Earth Day, SAS encouraged employees to clean out their closets and bring their “junk” to work. Then they did a junk swap and posted pictures and content to the intranet. 

8. Take a risk. Lee isn’t afraid of taking risks. She emailed her executives with the subject line, “Get dirty with me.” The body of the email encouraged executives to participate in a dumpster dive to clean up trash. 

9. Ask employees what they think. SAS has a “You Tell Us” feature on the intranet (as well as a bulletin board if they’d rather write on a board). Employees are prompted to answer questions like, “What one idea would you put forth to improve the overall SAS customer experience?” This encourages people who are afraid to comment in public a place to become comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. 

10. Highlight internal blogs. The SAS intranet houses more than 800 internal blogs (600 active). Top blogs are recognized annually and featured on the homepage of intranet. Those people often become thought leaders and start becoming more vocal outside of the intranet. 

11. Have a video portal. The intranet also houses quick videos like SAS’ “60-second scoop” that features updates on new product announcements, product releases and need-to-know information. The “Mr. Smarty Pants” series gives employees advice on what to do and what not to do at SAS. The “Help Me Understand” series features informational videos like “Help me understand my 401K benefits” to provide employees with quick bits of crucial information. 

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