How a True 2.0 Intranet Can Transform a Company and HR: My Experience

By Lisa Lyssand HR Director on June 28, 2010

The biggest congregation for HR professionals, SHRM is right around the corner. I was an exhibitor for BroadVision at last year’s show, and although I won’t be able to attend this year, I noticed that a lot of communication and advertising about the event is taking place in the social media sphere, highlighting how new social tools can help HR improve the workplace.

Almost all HR professionals agree that the company intranet is one of the most powerful ways for HR departments to connect with employees. However, IT departments administer many traditional intranets, which often come with large manuals on how you can update your HR pages yourself (and in my experience this usually involved a 50-page binder of instructions). Some IT staff members may very kindly agree to update that important policy for you—but they’re busy people, as all departments are.

A year ago, I became the Admin of our company intranet – BroadVision Connect (BVC) – which is powered by Clearvale. I was assigned to be the Admin because a) I am the HR head and company intranet falls under my belt, but also because b) the platform was designed to be easy to use so even someone like me who has ZERO IT background or training can do it.

Of course, I work for BroadVision. But take the following into consideration:

Imagine an intranet where you, as an HR professional, have control to post an updated policy in a matter of minutes. Moreover, you have the added bonus of posting it with restricted access if you desire. Worldwide organizations like ours have very different policies and procedures. With BVC, we can post them all on our intranet, tailoring the access to each region. No more need to send emails to inform employees of a change in policy; additionally, you have no need to make sure that only the specific region or department that may be affected is included on the email distribution list.

We no longer have to keep policies and procedures on an HR shared drive where, if an HR staff member leaves, we must navigate through a potentially confusing filing system just to find the most current version of a document—and then wonder if it was ever distributed! Instead, our HR team worldwide now has access to all HR documents, encouraging synergy between different regions and styles of working. Now, the department is more streamlined and is able to collaborate much more easily.

Our company intranet is now a tool in our HR arsenal that helps to foster team building and knowledge sharing. When employees can connect to each other and share their ideas—peer-to-peer—natural thought leaders come to the forefront. We have seen leadership skills demonstrated by employees located in remote offices that we had not witnessed previously. Several of our employees have also demonstrated new skills and interests that have led us to re-adjust their career paths, to the immense satisfaction of the employee and with great benefit to the company.

With an ESN intranet like BVC, every employee has a voice, tools for innovation are widely and easily distributed, experimentation becomes easy, and employees become aware that their capabilities are more important than titles.

Some of you may wonder about the extra workload it takes to set up a company intranet. Of course, at the beginning it took us a little time to set up the home page — choosing the widgets we wanted and identifying contributing staff members to set up and populate a few communities prior to launch. It took less than a week, a few hours a day, for me to organize and populate BroadVision Connect a year or so ago. The site maintains itself now. Honestly, sometimes the hardest part for me in setting up a Community is deciding which logo I want to use!

Like most companies BroadVision has had its share of tough times. Before BVC, it was very hard to keep employees informed and the communication channels between management and employees open. During this period we had a high number of voluntary terminations. As part of our exit interview process we asked employees to let us know which factors contributed to their decision to leave. Not surprisingly, “Lack of Communication “ and  “Culture and Morale” where in the top five selected by every employee.

It’s very hard to hear this, but at the time we had few resources to help us change these sentiments. That was in 2008, and since 2009 we started using Clearvale to build our intranet. As the year progressed I noticed one big difference—we experienced a sharp decrease in the number of voluntary resignations. In fact, they decreased by half. I’m confident that BroadVision Connect was a contributing factor. How can I know this? We conducted the same exit interview on the few voluntary resignations we had, and not one of person listed “Lack of Communication” or “Culture and Morale” as a contributing factor! Now as an HR professional, that’s the kind of ROI that makes me smile.

Oh and one last comment—Self Governance! We have not had to remove or edit one single post on BroadVision Connect since its inception. Not too bad.