How to Use Your Social Intranet to Give Back

By Simpplr Marketing

Although intranets are focused on helping employees get their work done, they also mirror and even influence the culture of the organizations they serve. This is especially true for social intranets, where employees interact in communities and contribute content reflecting the many different aspects of organizational life.  

A valuable initiative that employees get involved in, and that organizations encourage, is a ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) effort, where employees give something back to the wider community. For example, they might raise funds for a chosen charity or undertake volunteer work.

Giving something back helps to motivate employees, as confirmed by the influential annual global survey of employee engagement trends, where “organizational reputation” is cited as one of the top three drivers of employee engagement. In addition, ‘giving back’ can create a fantastic sense of connection between employees, which can translate into increased collaboration and better ways of working together.

Many organizations support CSR by donating additional funds, endorsing time off for volunteering, or helping to coordinate activities. Social intranets can also play an important part by highlighting employees’ philanthropic achievements, which can inspire other coworkers to get involved, and by helping CSR teams organize activities.

Here are ways to use your intranet for social good:

Publicize information and events

Your social intranet is the obvious place to publicize basic details about your CSR or volunteering program. Many organizations set up a focused section of the intranet that clearly features a program overview and details on how employees can get involved. Such areas can feature news, articles and employee blogs as well.

This may also be a place where you can provide details about the latest CSR-related events. If your intranet has an enterprise-wide events calendar, you can use it to share specifics, preferably on the homepage.

Highlight individual efforts

Along with group activities, your intranet can help to spotlight individual employees’ volunteering and fundraising activities.

For example, you could feature regular news on your intranet homepage about the contributions individuals and groups have made to a charity or to a community. These stories should be memorable, inspiring and uplifting. Using photos and allowing employees to ‘like’ or comment on the post can also make an article more emotive and impactful.

These features can help to galvanize others to get involved as well. It’s important to include information on how other employees can contribute, so always include a link to your organization’s CSR pages as an effective ‘call to action’.

Another way to approach this is to encourage individuals to blog about their own efforts, or even upload photos to a special album dedicated to CSR accomplishments. When content comes directly from users, it’s often more authentic and evocative. Consider spotlighting an individual blog post on the homepage, or reposting it as a news story.

Highlight collective efforts

While individual stories can resonate strongly with other employees, it can also be inspiring to show the aggregated efforts of all employees. You could feature stories in your news section, or even include a graphic on your homepage that shows the amount raised for a particular charity, the number of employees involved, or the total hours that have been spent volunteering.

It can be very powerful to show this figure as a percentage of a target. Again, include a link to your CSR area with more information to encourage employees to get involved.

Get employees to vote for their charity of choice

A number of organizations have used the polling functionality on their social intranet to allow employees to vote on the charity with which their company should partner. Information about each charity under consideration should be clearly displayed on the intranet to allow employees to make informed decisions.

One advantage of soliciting input is that it helps employees to feel of a sense of ownership of the CSR program. A disadvantage of this approach may be that more well-known charities are be favored, when they’re often the ones who already have better existing support and funds due to their greater brand visibility.

Use communities to support CSR efforts

Another fantastic use of social intranets is to create communities where volunteers can interact, coordinate efforts and swap best practices. This can help to enhance a sense of connection and community, and to support individuals who are new to volunteering and perhaps not sure quite what to expect.  

Volunteering is a fantastic way to build teams and friendships alike; some of that interaction may be initiated and then maintained online.

Are you using your intranet for social good?

If you’re not using your intranet for social good, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to help build employee engagement and make a real difference. If you haven’t done much in this area before, here are some good starting points:

  • Speak to the person who coordinates your CSR efforts about developing a dedicated page or area
  • Start to create some news items or use the events calendar
  • Encourage an individual (or collective) blog about volunteering efforts
  • Investigate the use of a community to support volunteers

Good luck in using your social intranet to give something back! The intranet is extremely useful for many reasons, but don’t be afraid to use the intranet for social efforts to boost employee engagement and commitment to your organization.

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