Keeping your employees connected isn't easy, especially if they're working from home. Read 5 effective ways to engage and connect with your remote employees in our latest guest blog.
Employee Engagement Software Vs. Business Intranet
Engagement Software vs Business Intranet
Employee engagement software has become a familiar face over the course of the last decade. With the corporate sphere becoming much more conscious to the needs of today’s workers, it comes as no surprise that many businesses have now adopted an employee-centric mantra into part of their larger strategy. Employee engagement software is by and large used as a vehicle for change - helping businesses engage and empower their workforce through slick interfaces and intuitive technology.
Once, it was thought that efficiency bred productivity and that the business intranet was the gatekeeper to engagement. Now, many are leaning towards a much more balanced ideology. One that positions employee wellbeing and engagement as the true primers for increased output, rather than efficiency.
Whilst having tools and efficient processes in place may be enough to facilitate an easier working day - there still remains an elusive piece of the puzzle; what makes our teams want to work? When your people are happy, they are 13% more likely to work just that little bit harder. In fact, a recent survey showed that 9 out of 10 people would take a drop in wages to feel like they are more happy and fulfilled within their work.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why engagement software has taken centre stage in today’s digital workplace. If it’s important to your employees, it should be important to you too. Allowing employees to connect, collaborate and share their voice, engagement software has opened many doors for workers and businesses alike. Whilst it provides many distinct advantages, many people are (rightly or wrongly) still stuck in the past, denying their workforce a whole host of engagement benefits in favour of outdated, clunky technology.
The Rise and Fall of the Intranet: a Brief History
Initially, business intranets were designed to broadcast information and content to those working within a business or organisation.
Born in the technological boom of the 90’s, intranets are and have always been inextricably linked to the development of the internet. While the internet was intended to connect the world on a global scale, intranets were introduced with a mind to connect on a much smaller scale.
Basic in their functionality, they acted (and in some cases still do act) as an internal website for your businesses, dedicated solely to the effective operation and dissemination of information between employees. A sort of central hub, business intranets were orientated around employer-specific content like policies, messages, initiatives and more.
Whilst at the time, a very effective means of connecting a business, intranets struggle today to keep up with the overall efficiency and flexibility of modern-day digital workplaces, employee apps and engagement software. Old-school intranets often relied solely on the internet to maintain their operation. This quickly became a problem when deskless workers redefined the traditional constraints of an office. Back in those days, the internet wasn’t as easily accessible as it is now, meaning that a large portion of workers on the road or otherwise not in the office, were forgotten.
With the rise of the deskless worker, it became increasingly important that an employee’s day to day technology was up to task. Whilst some intranet providers have modernised their set-up to make them more appropriate for a modern audience, their superficial tweaks are little more than skin-deep. Scratch just beneath the surface and the disparity between an old-school business intranet and intuitive software becomes very apparent. Many modern intranets just haven’t got the infrastructure to compete with slicker, more adaptable engagement systems and HR software on the market today.
A Growing Divide
Throughout techs rapid acceleration during the 90s and 00s, intranets were the mainstay for businesses around the world. Against the backdrop of 20 years of bad fashion and questionable innovations however, things started to change - especially the technology we were using in the workplace. Technology had advanced at such a rapid pace, that those that couldn’t keep up, have been left in the dust.
Functionality, practicality and efficiency all have their place within today’s modern workplace. In fact these things are all exactly what an intranet excels at. It’s not, however, the entire picture within a modern workplace environment. Employee engagement and wellbeing plays an important role in the facilitation of effective work on a daily basis, more so than efficiency based work tools or corporate intranet systems.
People need to feel incentivised to work, they want to feel like they are valued and that their input is always welcome. This is why a tool that specialises primarily in efficiency isn’t always the answer. Sometimes they need to feel like they have a voice, that their achievements are recognised and that they can stay connected with their fellow colleagues to maintain efficient work processes. HR engagement software fills a void that has been left out of a larger picture for decades. Enabling businesses to conduct surveys, give effective feedback, run recognition and reward programmes (as well as the more administrative functions associated with an intranet) HR engagement software offers an immediate advantage over their traditional counterparts.
Over the years intranets have given us the tools we need to be more efficient and ultimately more productive. From document management to information distribution, basic connectivity and administrative functionality, intranets have been a central hub of resources for entire organisations for decades. Whilst they present employees with everything they need to get jobs done, they don’t, however, have the capacity to offer much more. In a world that’s all too 3 dimensional, it’s important that we’re not operating through a one-dimensional tool.
The primary advantage employee software (and HR engagement software) presents is that unlike business intranets, they have been specifically designed to fulfil the needs of their users. Intranets, on the other hand, have had to constantly change and adapt to provide users with optimum employee experience. As with most things, temporary fixes serve their purpose but for long term longevity, are not in the least sustainable.
As these fixes and ‘updates’ are usually nothing more than a band-aid on a much larger problem, intranet interfaces are often inconsistent, clunky and non-intuitive. Employee engagement software, on the other hand, has been built from the ground up and made to suit the demanding needs of different technologies and devices. User experience is fundamental to maintaining and improving employee engagement. By building a system to meet the needs of your employees and not the other way around, your business will reap the rewards of a highly engaged and incentivised workforce.
Business intranets were designed for several primary objectives: to help employees and businesses connect, communicate, share information and act as a central hub of information. They very much did their job, and at the time were an effective solution for helping employees throughout the last two decades be more efficient and productive. By providing workers with relevant information they needed to do their work more effectively and efficiently, intranets were - to some extent - helping their workers stay engaged.
These days, it’s a different story. Today’s workers are much more discerning and have much higher expectations of those in previous generations. It is no longer enough to simply be able to do a job. We have to be able to be supported not only in our capability to do work but also emotionally and mentally.
Intranets, in their very basic form, are designed to connect but their real-life application in today’s world presents more problems than it does resolutions. Their limited ability to makes communicating with others a confusing, convoluted and clunky affair. Engagement software, HR software, collaboration software and more, on the other hand, allows us to engage and communicate instantly through messenger, social timeline and integrated hubs; making for a much more seamless and rewarding experience.
With employee engagement software you are no longer required to find somebody via a convoluted directory or submit a ticket to resolve an issue. Instead, you are presented the luxury of sending an instant message to any employee with the business, there and then. Helping you to get a much faster reply.
Intranets: functional, practical and well, a little bit boring. Great for document storage but not what you’d call ‘exciting’. When it comes to employee engagement, fresh and exciting is exactly what employees crave. Incentivising employees through gamification and other competitive means can do wonders for increasing productivity and driving motivation. Intranets, unfortunately, don’t have the infrastructure or technological capability for supporting such needs.
Employee engagement software/ HR engagement software makes content much more attainable and easier to digest. Facilitating the use of multimedia like videos, images, podcasts and more to further illuminate content, engagement software helps employees stay engaged and fully immersed.
With intranets, it's very much a case of what you see is what you get. Whilst basic filters and preferences can be applied, it’s not as robust as many modern-day employees would like. It prevents them from finding what’s relevant to them and their specific job. Engagement software offers a much more individualistic approach, enabling users to completely personalise their experience to suit their preferences. Many (like Oak Engage for example) also facilitate corporate branding to make the experience that little bit more immersive and engaging.
Intranets can on a very basic level (in some cases) offer basic usage reports. Business intranets are almost always equipped with such a functionality. Employee engagement software, on the other hand, was specifically designed to give users and moderators the data at their fingertips. Just like many modern-day CRM systems engagement software offers those in charge to look at the data and make changes on the go to truly maximise their potential.