file cabinet full of documents and folders coming out of a laptop screen. minimal concept of file organization and data storage. 3d rendering. Intranet Effectiveness

Intranets Are for the People Who Use Them

May 2, 2024

The title of this post may seem like the most obvious statement imaginable. Who else would intranets be for? Yet, one of the most common barriers we encounter with intranet effectiveness is that intranets tend to reflect the priorities of their creators rather than their users.

When creating an intranet, the temptation exists to architect it in the image of the company it serves. If the company is divided into x business units, then the site map needs to be divided into x sections. If Benefits and Learning ladder up to different departments, then they need to have separate sections on the intranet. It feels obvious that the site navigation and content hierarchy should reflect the company structure, right?

This viewpoint is prevalent because the teams who create and generally oversee intranets — communicators, IT, the C-suite — are in the relatively rare position of constantly viewing the company as a whole. Their roles require an objective, bird’s-eye viewpoint that favors an emphasis on corporate structure. On top of this, they need to contend with individual stakeholders in various units who will fight for the centrality of their own self-definitions on the intranet, further entrenching boundaries that aren’t important to employees.

In contrast, the employee experience is inherently focused on the first-person perspective — how does x affect me? When employees use an intranet, they’ll approach it similarly and look to find what’s most relevant to them: my benefits, my paycheck and the tools needed to do my job. When employees don’t see themselves or their needs reflected, usage drops.

As the ultimate end user, employee intranets should reflect the employee perspective rather than echo an organizational infrastructure that doesn’t directly affect them.

For example:

Organizational Perspective: Human Resources, Compensation, Health Benefits, Learning and Development, Performance Development. Employee Perspective: My Benefits, My Money, My Health, My Career, Professional Growth

Intranets are always treated as if they’re on the way out, but in reality, they’re as popular as ever. A recent Microsoft survey reported that 62% of employees feel they spend too much time searching for information during the course of their workday. The statistic is alarmingly high, underscoring the significant value a well-designed intranet can bring to an organization by mitigating non-productive time.

If your company hasn’t assessed or upgraded its intranet recently, now is the time. You can start by seeing if your intranet meets three criteria of an effective intranet by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Intuitive: Does my intranet enhance the ways our employees work and facilitate easy information retrieval?
  2. Interactive: Does my intranet support how employees want to engage with each other?
  3. Relevant: Does my intranet affirm the strategic goals of the organization in a way employees will care about?

If you answered “yes” to all these questions, you might be in good shape. But a “no” or “I’m not sure” on any of them is the perfect entry to a conversation about how your company can set new intranet goals that can better match employees’ needs. In the end, your intranet is a product — tailoring it to your audience, as you would with a consumer product, has the potential to elevate its usage.

ROI can help you plan and implement the intranet that will best serve your employees and, ultimately, your business. A good place to start is our interactive workshop “Building an intranet strategy for the modern workplace,” which provides detailed insights on boosting your intranet’s effectiveness. This workshop and others can be delivered through an online session or onsite at your organization.

Visit our workshops page for details and reach out for further discussion!


Jeff Lewonczyk ROI Internal Communication Agency Employee.
Jeff Lewonczyk

Director, Specialist

Jeff is a strategist and award-winning illustrator with a background in theater, music and arts advocacy. A resident of Brooklyn, he directs musical comedies and helps clients connect with their audiences through visually compelling stories and messaging.

Liz Hutchison Taff ROI Internal Communication Agency Employee.
Liz Hutchison Taff

Vice President, Account Manager

With over a decade of experience managing communications within the hospitality and media industries, Liz is an expert at helping clients design communications that engage and inspire employees. She serves as the strategy and development lead for ROI’s Digital Employee Experience team.