The Communicator’s Guide to Building a Corporate Intranet: Part 2
Building a new corporate intranet, to meet your current needs, can be a daunting task. In part one of this five-part series, we dug into the ideas of why and when it might be time to start the project, and looked at whose job it should be.
Now that we’ve established those basics, it’s time to get granular with the next big idea: your audience.
Organizational Structure and Employee Demographics
Many organizations I’ve worked with have found it difficult to segment their employee database so that those responsible for getting information to specific groups of individuals have the ability to do so. In many cases, this happens simply because the business has grown and no specific person was responsible for keeping the database infrastructure up to date. Where that growth has been driven through acquisitions, the challenges of merging numerous, disparate systems can compound the problem.
The ability to segment a workforce and provide relevant, personalized communications and content can make or break employee communication and engagement, whether a company has 250 employees or 250,000. Step back, view the company from 30,000 feet above, and consider how the company has been communicating and getting information to its workforce so far. Then consider how you’d like that communication to look in the future, and map out a structure for making it happen.
Related Article: The Communicator’s Guide to Building an Intranet, Part 1
With that said, however, the way a company views its organizational structure is not necessarily the same as the way in which it communicates with its employees.
The sample organizational chart above is representative of how many companies work — up to a point. In a manufacturing company, where are the plant/line workers represented? For a retail organization, where are the store clerks or baristas?
There are good odds that whoever designed the “org chart” for a given company didn’t contemplate each and every employee persona within that organization. Who are the employees? Where are they located, and how do they receive communications and information? In any given workforce, there are probably employees that are being left out of their company’s communications — especially in any organization employing some of the 3 billion workers who don’t sit at a desk.
The seemingly daunting task of creating or rethinking a company’s organizational structure might seem to be well outside the scope of a communications team. But someone needs to be responsible for this digital workplace challenge. The purpose of Communications is to communicate with everyone — so why shouldn’t they own the responsibility of figuring out who “everyone” is, since they have to manage those communications?
The good news is, current employee technology solutions can make this task easier. The appropriate stakeholders — Communications, HR, IT and those who have a good understanding of their company’s employee database/HRIS situation — can sit down together and map out what the “communications organizational chart” should look like.
As a case study: One of the first large enterprise clients I worked with to design a new intranet was a nationally known and well respected hotel/casino company that we can call “Casino Enterprise.”
Related Article: 8 Essential Intranet Features for 2023
At the time I worked with Casino Enterprise, they employed more than 50,000 people located across the United States. LIke many other large companies in the hospitality industry, many of their employees did not sit behind desks with access to computers or corporate intranets. Many did not even have a casinoenterprise.com email address. As a result, it was difficult to get information to and to communicate with those workers. But Casino Enterprise did recognize that pretty much everyone on staff had a mobile device, and sought to to take advantage of this then-new communications channel to solve the problem.
Content Targeting for a Relevant, Personal Experience
The first problem Casino Enterprise wanted to address was being able to communicate with all employees simultaneously. This was fairly easy, only requiring the company’s employee database to be updated and accurate. The mobile employee app technology Casino Enterprise planned to deploy integrated with the company’s employee database sources and was able to accept a unique ID for each employee so that only active employees would have access to the application and its content.
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Mapping of Casino Enterprise’s workforce for top-down communication was straightforward and allowed Casino Enterprise to push information to all employees via their mobile device simultaneously:
Although Casino Enterprise successfully deployed the app to all employees, it soon noticed that adoption and engagement were not what it had hoped for. After surveying employees, the company learned that this was because employees, while somewhat interested in what was happening in the broader Casino Enterprise organization, were more concerned about information that affected them locally and personally. The top-down communications, while serving a corporate purpose, were not what employees really cared about. The organization decided it needed to rethink its user segmentation and content targeting strategy and get more granular in communicating with different employee audiences.
This segmentation analysis forced the communications team at Casino Enterprise to really think about the typical frontline employee, what their job was and where they were located. The team realized, after review, that some employees required certain types of information because they were part of a union. Then there were others who required different information and communications because of the time of day or shift they worked, since Casino Enterprise was a 24/7 operation.
The new mapping of Casino Enterprise’s workforce looked something like this:
At the end of the day, Casino Enterprise was able to define a user segmentation strategy that satisfied employees’ needs by providing them with localized, job-specific information in a much more personal and relevant way. The company’s employee databases, when integrated with its new employee communications platform, could support these communication needs.
Casino Enterprise is just one company that has addressed this employee segmentation challenge. Other user segmentation categories may include markers such as:
- Business Areas/Divisions
- Employee Roles/Positions
- Management Positions
- Active employees/Retirees
In your own business, segmentation is just a function of identifying the categories, ensuring that employees are correctly identified with their applicable categories in your database(s), and integrating those databases with the technology platform being deployed.
Now that we’ve covered understanding who you’re talking to, having defined employee personas and segmented accordingly, in the next installment we’ll talk about what you say and how you say it: content strategy.
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About the Author
Jeff Corbin has worked as a communications consultant for more than 20 years. Passionate about transforming internal communications through the use of technology, he was the founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile where he pioneered the use of mobile technology in the United States with respect to a new category of technology — employee apps. Connect with Jeff Corbin: