By Darryl Duke | November 11, 2015

There are two stats to know if you're in a fast-growing company and hiring quickly:

  1. Millennials under the age of 35 last just 2.3 years on average
  2. It takes 1-2 years for a new hire to become fully productive

Taken together, it means most workers are operating below their potential. How do you get your team engaged quickly — especially if there are a lot of new Millennials? While many smaller organizations (less than 30 people) get by using email, Google docs, and a file share system, larger companies and those generating a lot of content quickly find that employees waste a lot of time trying to find the right people and the right information to get their jobs done.

A well-designed corporate intranet can help workers be more productive and increase efficiency across teams and the company. Many of the corporate intranets we develop for Fortune 500 organizations and fast-growing companies succeed by following these three non-technical must-dos:

1. Brand your corporate intranet, not just your company tees.

I've been working in high tech for decades and am still surprised at how many companies spend more time and resources designing T-shirts than designing and managing their corporate intranets. Yes, T-shirts can commemorate and celebrate team success. But whether it's email, project management, or making plans and documents, employees spend an inordinate amount of time online each day. With a branded corporate intranet, employees know they're working as a team member whether they're in the office or elsewhere.

Companies with a strong brand identity give their employees a sense of purpose as soon as they walk into the office. An online corporate resource – an employee portal or corporate intranet – that mirrors a company's 'look and feel' makes employees feel more confident in what they're doing. It can quickly give them access to people and work in an online team setting. Does your corporate intranet look like your products? Your offices? Your website or marketing materials? Or is it a generic or unfamiliar new app or set of apps? If your company's internal online experience doesn't match your organization, employees will hesitate to use it. But, if it's an extension of your company's 'look and feel', employees will internalize your brand, and consequently feel more engaged. For companies with multiple locations or remote workers, the benefits are magnified — a strongly branded corporate intranet can provide a common area to connect and get work done no matter the time zone or office setting.


2. Create an 'on fleek' dashboard — with company news, task notifications, and Twitter feeds

Corporate change requires effort and learning. For employees, it can cause confusion, frustration, and stall progress. An engaging corporate intranet or enterprise social intranet can easily communicate a company's ongoing and exciting changes. And if it's 'on fleek' or 'fresh,' it'll get the attention of Millennials. Many successful big brand organizations deploy an intranet with a shared company news homepage or universal place for employees to find out what’s happening whenever they log in. Employees who are inundated with email must go to multiple sources, tools, and platforms to keep track of required tasks. With a well-designed corporate intranet, notifications and reminders for an employee's daily tasks can be featured alongside corporate news.

If it's important for employees to quickly see what's trending for the company, consider incorporating a live social media feed like Twitter or a Pinterest-like display board. The less time employees spend context switching and getting in and out of different applications, the more productive and engaged they'll be.

3. Keeping it clean

People have a natural tendency to avoid tasks that are hard. They're busy and rarely have spare time to dive in to learn new and complex tools. Design your corporate intranet to defer complexity — a peel-the-onion strategy. For example, a special Onboarding or New Hires section can increase new employee productivity quickly. With your corporate intranet, allow users to consume content first – with web-surfing simplicity – and then experiment with tool features to allow for incremental learning of the platform. Make it perform like a great website. Present readily-available navigation buttons or features like menus, headers, and links to orient users. Give managers easy design and create capabilities to publish and distribute information to their teams and other departments in a dynamic, compelling way. Provide permissions-based views of content so the right people can see and comment at the right time. Clearly all the suggestions above are not simple checkboxes on a features list. They deserve strategic thinking and appropriate technologies. But it's all do-able and the payoff can be huge.

A branded corporate intranet that is easy to use and provides access to corporate news, personalized information, tools, and tasks will empower employees to stay informed and exceed at their jobs. It enables everyone to connect, share, and collaborate — without navigating multiple, disconnected systems. And employees spend their time in a branded environment that reinforces your company culture. (Corporate branded T-shirts optional.)