17 intranet best practices to raise employee engagement

Intranet best practices to raise employee engagement
Can an intranet experience be so good that it helps attract and retain top talent and boost employee engagement? Yes. We've seen it happen. Is it possible to reach a near 100% intranet adoption rate across your entire distributed workforce? Well, we've seen that too.

If you’re aiming for a stellar intranet adoption rate and a measurable jump in employee engagement, these 17 intranet best practices can take your intranet above and beyond.

Table of contents: 17 intranet best practices

Discover 10 strategies for improving employee engagement with a modern intranet

1. Design your intranet to be easy and inviting

Give your intranet an intuitive and visually appealing interface that’s more than just easy to use — it’s downright inviting. The ideal intranet platform is much more than a knowledge base. It offers the experience of feeling connected to the entire company — for office workers, remote workers and frontline workers across your entire distributed workforce.

Intranet best practices: Visual design tip

Design your intranet as if it were a consumer product — if they don’t like it, they won’t use it. If you’ve decided to custom-build your intranet, make sure you instill your design with principles of UX design. Modern intranets today offer out-of-the-box templates that are visual and easy to brand. In addition, Simpplr offers dashboard templates with pre-built UX best practices.

Intranet best practices - Visual design of Simpplr Intranet home page

Modern intranets like Simpplr make including images, graphics, videos and other visuals seamless — so you don’t have to work harder to make a bigger splash with your content.

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2. Deliver a mobile-first intranet experience

Make sure your intranet is mobile-friendly so your frontline and on the go employees can get the information they need and collaborate.

A successful intranet isn’t limited to the office — it lives in the pocket of every employee, no matter where they are.

But just being mobile isn’t enough. If you’re striving for 100% intranet adoption, be sure your mobile app offers a comprehensive intranet solution that feels like a consumer app and connects employees to critical news, knowledge and other colleagues.

Intranet best practices: Mobile design tip

Build on a cloud-based platform for remote teams, and optimize it for speed.

Intranet best practices - article on travel policy and expenses & three mobile notifications on news, must-read article, and comment reply

Simpplr maintains speed through load-balancing reads across database replicas. As user demand increases, read replicas increase to prevent performance drops.

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3. Build your intranet to be as engaging as social media

The first corporate intranets were clunky at best. Workers used them because they had no better options. But today’s intranet users have very little patience for intranet software that doesn’t appeal to their consumer expectations.

Effective intranets are social intranets.

They offer internal communication that transcends sharing need-to-know information to focus on building a sense of community.

Intranet best practices: Social tip

Design your intranet with a feed that mimics social media, empowering content creators throughout the company.

Intranet best practices - social tip: original post & comments

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4. Prioritize UX in your intranet design so employees can use it without training

For many organizations, onboarding new employees to the corporate intranet involves extensive training, followed by frequent rounds of IT tickets.

When employee intranet experiences are rife with irrelevance or frustration, intranet adoption rates plummet.

Instead, employees should be able to open up the app and go — making your intranet a key tool for employee onboarding without needing any training itself.

Intranet best practices: Usability tip

Put employee experiences at the forefront by including several rounds of “market research” in each phase of intranet redesign.

Intranet best practices - homescreen of Simpplr intranet

Simpplr is research-backed and design-focused, so it’s intuitive to use — no extensive training needed.

See how Simpplr makes implementation simple

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5. Help remote employees collaborate and build communities

Company intranets should help people find each other — not just people they know, but other employees who share similar interests, goals and research areas. Clearly, this goes beyond a comprehensive employee directory.

Consider building an AI-powered content feed into your intranet to personalize content recommendations and diverse voices, helping employees meet new people and discover common interests.

Intranet best practices: Community-building tip

Crowdsource your communities by letting active users create groups and virtual community spaces across a wide range of business goals and shared interests. Use your intranet to promote employee resource groups (ERGs).

Intranet best practices - Intranet photo collection for community building

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6. Incorporate intelligent search functionality

There are few user experiences worse than a search bar that only serves up dead ends. Make sure your intranet search functionality isn’t limited to exact searches and reg-ex builders that were designed for logicians. Instead, your intranet’s search function should include natural language processing so employees can type or even speak in their own words to find what they need.

Intranet best practices: Search tip

Incorporate search AI that can take into account the user’s region, role, permissions access, search history and more to find exactly what they need.

Intranet best practices - AI-assisted search for article on "benefits"

Leveraging secure AI, Simpplr combines neural and federated search to ensure the most relevant information is always at employees’ fingertips.

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7. Serve up personalized content recommendations

Have you ever looked over a friend’s shoulder at their content feed? In modern social media, no two feeds are alike because no two people are alike. You may both see a popular meme that has over 100,000 views, but your feeds will also include niche content that doesn’t overlap at all.

A modern intranet platform works the same way, surfacing relevant content based on personal interests, skills and job functions.

Intranet best practices: Content feed tip

To boost intranet usage and engagement, be sure your intranet can personalize employee feeds with content that matches their interests.

Intranet best practices - "must read" section of Simpplr intranet highlighting important articles

Simpplr’s user-driven, adaptive personalization learns user preferences over time and fine-tunes their intranet experience. We use a knowledge graph to personalize recommendations, taking into account users’ specific circumstances and information relationships for a seamless experience.

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8. Use your intranet to promote career development

One of the most important types of content your intranet can offer is professional development and training. This needs to extend beyond written articles into a broad spectrum of media such as corporate podcasts, native video and interactive learning experiences. Provide access to training materials, webinars and online courses to foster continuous learning and professional growth.

Intranet best practices: Career development tip

Don’t forget about mentorship. Your intranet should help employees find relevant content from internal leaders who can help them expand their knowledge and skills.

Intranet best practices - article announcing hire of new chief data officer

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9. Surface breaking news and the info they need

Your intranet homepage design should include a news feed that can be your employees’ single source of truth for internal communications, but that’s just the start. Another key intranet feature is the ability to reach your entire workforce, including remote and frontline workers, with critical information.

Your internal communication strategy should include crisis communications, including the ability to push mobile notifications to the right workers based on their region, role, function and more.

Intranet best practices: Alerts tip

Make sure your intranet enables you to quickly send business-critical alerts to employees wherever they are.

Intranet best practices - mobile notification regarding article with "must read" designation in Simpplr intranet

Simpplr enables automated notifications across multiple communications channels, including SMS and email.

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10. Include secure, scalable communication options

For maximum reach, your intranet should incorporate multiple communication channels. This includes integrating popular collaboration tools such as chat platforms, discussion boards, email, and even project management tools to foster collaboration and teamwork.

Intranet best practices: Video comms tip

For more engagement from today’s intranet users, be sure your intranet platform supports native video streaming.

Intranet best practices - intranet photo album, collaboration

Simpplr’s Native Video makes it simple to record, upload, store and manage videos on the intranet. Plus, you can weave video across all aspects of the employee experience — including the Smart Feed, newsletter, pages, albums, profiles, events, blogs and carousel.

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11. Crowdsource your content and publish, publish, publish

If your internal communication team ever feels like it’s running out of intranet content ideas, chances are you’re running a traditional intranet that’s based on a centralized legacy intranet structure. If that’s the case, your intranet project needs a digital transformation, distributing your intranet content strategy across all your active users. It’s the same content strategy used by modern social media, letting users create their own content and share it with each other.

Intranet best practices: Crowdsourcing tip

Democratize communications with an intranet that empowers employees at all levels to add content — whether it’s video, text, audio or images. And use a modern intranet where employees can easily communicate with each other.

Intranet best practices - post template on Simpplr intranet

Simpplr’s intuitive content/text editing interface empowers employees to easily create multimedia content.

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12. Practice continuous cleaning with auto-governance

Legacy intranets often get bogged down by the weight of content bloat — becoming content dumping grounds. Outdated content and irrelevant news articles can slow your intranet content management system down to a crawl, frustrating intranet users who waste countless hours hunting for content. Be sure your intranet design team formulates an intranet content management strategy to cull old content from your knowledge-sharing database.

Intranet best practices: Cleaning tip

A modern intranet solution can improve your knowledge management system by notifying digital content owners automatically when it’s time to review, update or remove outdated content.

Intranet best practices - low activity posts on Simpplr intranet

Simpplr launched the industry’s first Auto-Governance Engine™ to combat the challenge of stale intranet content — a top reason intranets fail. It leverages AI to monitor, surface and unpublish outdated content automatically.

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13. Offer rewards and recognition they’ll remember

For maximum employee engagement, be sure your intranet redesign includes built-in rewards and recognition programs that can reach employees throughout your company.

Better yet, make sure employees can recognize each other.

When employees can recognize and reward their peers through user-friendly systems, you’re building stronger internal relationships while boosting intranet usage.

Intranet best practices: Recognition tip

Intranet teams should build in the option to let nominators remain anonymous.

Intranet best practices - Simpplr intranet recognition hub

Simpplr’s Employee Recognition is seamlessly integrated into an organization’s digital workflow. The intuitive and user-friendly design encourages recognition, boosting engagement and adoption of the intranet platform.

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14. Open up channels for continuous feedback loops

Another key functionality your intranet needs is the ability to conduct interactive polls and surveys — but it shouldn’t end there. In enterprise organizations with thousands or even hundreds of thousands of employees, managing employee engagement surveys is a big-data problem.

Incorporate AI along with integrations for popular data management tools to make sure interactive intranet surveys don’t become unmanageable.

Intranet best practices: Feedback tip

Here, too, be sure to build in anonymous options as well as passive listening to gauge employee sentiment in real time.

Intranet best practices - Simpplr intranet employee sentiment dashboard

Simpplr’s Employee Listening tool combines survey responses with AI-powered passive listening to detect underlying sentiments and emotions — so leaders can take data-driven action to keep morale high and retain talent. The AI surfaces insights into a broad range of sentiment data gathered throughout the Simpplr platform, incorporating polls, pulse and traditional surveys, Sentiment check, Awareness check, and everyday interactions, like comments.

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15. Integrate your intranet with the tools they need

If you want your intranet to hit a 100% adoption rate, make sure it integrates with the tools your teams need to get things done. Connect it to your HR platform to give your workers self-serve access, and connect it to your project management system so they can get things done.

With a single source of access to everything they need, your intranet will be the one platform employees use the most.

Intranet best practices: Integration tip

When considering your intranet options, be sure to check the list of integrations that are built into each platform.

Intranet best practices - Simpplr intranet applications menu

In addition to integration with the most popular content management systems and productivity apps, Simpplr offers native integration with the most well-known people data sources — including Active Directory, Google Workspace, Okta, Salesforce, Workday and UKG Pro — and the platform’s merge connectors effortlessly integrate many other HRIS systems.

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16. Make it easy to sign into your digital workspace

Design your intranet to be a single sign-in access point to everything your teams need to communicate and collaborate with each other effectively. Enabling single sign-on (SSO) helps authorize employees to access your digital workspace securely and without frustration. With company news, to-do lists, team communications, HR announcements and more all in one place, your intranet will become the first thing your employees sign into every morning and the last thing they sign out of each night.

Intranet best practices: Single sign-on tip

Make sure your intranet integrates with popular single sign-on applications, such as Azure Active Directory, Okta, Oracle, OneLogin, Salesforce and others.

Intranet best practices - North Lane's Simpplr employee intranet homepage

17. Wrap your intranet up in a bow with an AI assistant

Now imagine taking your intranet one step further. What if employees could talk to your intranet directly, asking it to record an expense or block out their upcoming vacation? Instead of opening an app, what if your intranet’s AI assistant could instantly take care of those tasks for them?

For the best possible intranet experience, include an AI assistant in your intranet build and watch adoption rates soar.

Intranet best practices: AI assistant tip

For maximum engagement, build in the ability to understand multiple languages so employees can take their pick.

Intranet best practices - Simpplr employee intranet AI-driven virtual assistant (two screens, English chat & German chat)

Simpplr’s virtual assistant integrates enterprise systems to help employees access knowledge, manage incidents across employee apps, support Q&A, and deliver personalized answers in multiple languages. It uses advanced generative AI to turn indexed results into human language to deliver 90% response accuracy.

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Get all 17 intranet best practices with Simpplr

Today’s modern intranet platforms are highly specialized, with proprietary technologies that would be extremely costly to build internally, let alone maintain. Enterprise organizations can see a far better intranet ROI by outsourcing their intranet to a company like Simpplr.

Simpplr includes everything on this list and more. Schedule a demo today to see how Simpplr can elevate the employee experience for your organization.

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