OK, so you have an intranet in place, but have you given your users some guidelines to follow while using it? Do your users know how to have a conversation with an individual vs. their team? Do your power users know what kind of articles they can post on their department sites and if there is an approval process they have to adhere to?
Having some policies and procedures in place for intranet usage helps all your users know what is expected of them. It clarifies and simplifies the processes, and establishes guidelines, boundaries, and best practices that outline acceptable behavior within the digital workplace. It also helps in setting the right tone for your business.
Often, policies and procedures are written as administrative documents and are similar to an “email usage policy”. When it comes to intranet policies, they should be written in layman language and designed from the viewpoint of internal stakeholders of the organization. The core purpose of writing and disseminating an intranet policy is to address common questions and resolve intranet usage related issues.
In this blog, we have put forth a few considerations for a policy document knowing that every company will have a different list. We’re hoping this information will get your wheels churning about the guidelines you want to put in place.
Most intranets have policies and procedures, mainly focusing on the standards and guidelines to follow while using the intranet. The company intranet is an excellent collaboration tool but if not used appropriately, it can become a platform for unnecessary conflicts and miscommunications. Therefore, it is important to have intranet usage policies and procedures in place, which can help in serving the core purpose of an intranet in the organization. We have outlined some of the most important policies that all intranets should develop.
Content strategy – Having a strategy in place ensures that there is useful, relevant, and well-organized content. It makes sure that content is accurate, up-to-date, and easy to find. Intranet content includes news and announcements, employee recognition stories, policy documents, etc.
The three main processes to be considered while putting in place an intranet content strategy are:
- Creating – this is concerned with planning, writing and assessing the quality of content. This also defines who will be designated to write content and what guidelines need to be adhered to. If there will be an approval process, who are the approvers and the timeline to be followed so content is not stuck with them for long periods of time.
- Publishing – this is concerned with how the content will be presented and broadcasted. Most content needs to follow set structures and can be put into a template for ease. It needs to be properly tagged with keywords and metadata to make certain that it can be found easily.
- Maintaining (governance) – this provides guidelines for accessing, reviewing, and archiving or deleting content, and includes defining intranet administrators and moderators, setting the decision-making process for updating or retiring content. Having an intranet governance structure makes sure your intranet is not cluttered with large amounts of poorly written, unindexed content.
Intranet etiquettes – It is important to follow a set of rules or guidelines while using the company intranet. The intranet etiquettes include – not using inappropriate language and vulgarities, not posting anything that can be offensive to a gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, culture etc. In context to privacy, never store sensitive information such as credit card numbers and passwords. The content related intranet etiquettes include reading content carefully before posting, deleting old files that are not required anymore, and uploading virus-free content to the intranet. Plagiarism rules also apply to the intranet usage as somebody else’s content cannot be claimed as your own.
Information Sharing – Sharing documents on the intranet is made very easy because it lends itself to the ease of collaboration and knowledge transfer. However, policies should be put in place to ensure that information doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Depending on the organization this could include guidelines for sharing across departments or office locations or only be concerned about sharing with external parties.
Communication – Since an intranet can provide multiple modes of communication, users need to be educated about how to use the various tools. For example, on an Office 365 intranet, communication can be conducted via email, chat, discussion forums, VOIP calls and video conferencing. A company should define what mode should be used for what purpose. This gives clarity to the users and avoids confusion.
Approval policies – The move towards a paperless office is well supported by the intranet. Automated workflows and digital forms on the intranet allow organizations to save money, time and increase productivity. Employees should be made aware that approvals are to be obtained electronically and that emails and paper documents will not be accepted. But before making them mandatory, it is vital to educate and train your employees on the use of the approval processes so they know how to route documents and forms and who to route them to.
Document archival – The guidelines related to archival of documents, although important for all organizations, are more stringent for financial, legal, and medical industries. It concerns the disposal of documents that are not required to be preserved or moving old documents to separate storage to be maintained permanently. It is important to delete and discard documents that are obsolete and not in use because it saves space and time and other resources. The disposal record should contain details of the items to be deleted including a brief description of the document, approval details, date and mode of destruction. Archived records should be maintained under the custody of the compliance department.
Following best practices can make a positive difference in the success of an intranet and at the same time, it also boosts productivity, engagement, collaboration, and return on investment. The right set of intranet policies and procedures can make the intranet successful by streamlining and simplifying all the processes and giving clarity to the users on how to access and use the tools.