Keep It Intra-resting: Creating an Engaging HR Intranet Site

Many companies are moving away from intranet sites due to their lack of flexibility; however, for those of us still using the intranet, here are five suggestions to improve user experience.

Call me biased, but I think the HR page of any company’s intranet site is the most important page. It has everything I need, which is usually just the holiday calendar or a link to the expense reporting tool URL I keep forgetting to bookmark. However, just like off-leash dogs in the middle of a city, one of my pet peeves is poorly designed HR pages.

Many companies are moving away from intranet sites due to their lack of flexibility; however, for those of us still using the intranet, here are five suggestions to improve user experience.

1)    Utilize Web Design Best Practices
Data on the intranet as a whole, but especially the HR page, should be categorized, organized, consistent, and readable. Unfortunately, many intranets are clunky and slow, which makes users reticent to engage; instead, users should be able to navigate the page with little to no training because the site layout and usage is simply that intuitive;. The site should be optimized for both desktop and mobile (if available via mobile), and should resize well. Lastly, it should utilize basic accessibility guidelines per the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative standards. For example, that includes image description alt text for all images, no text within images (text should instead be typed, rather than captured in a picture), captions for prerecorded audio and video, and color is not used as the only way to convey meaning, as employees may be colorblind.

2)    Clarify Where Documentation is Stored (and organize it!)
A link to a documentation SharePoint is often pertinent if and when possible. Documentation can include an employee handbook, company policies, healthcare, tax, and 401k information, as well as onboarding materials, all sorted into separate folders by topic. This can include video walkthroughs of how to user various platforms as well as topical information as well. By storing all necessary documentation in a centralized location, it reduces the chances of human error and frustration when users fail to find documents in the location where they (rightly or wrongly) expected them to be.

3)    Clean up the Job Board
Everyone’s hiring, and even internal employees may be looking for a departmental change that better suits their interests or skills. Ensuring the job board is easy to find, well-organized, descriptive, and simple to search through will make the job hunt a much more pleasant and significantly less frustrating experience. Adding an organizational chart, payroll information, and as many details as possible can help employees make informed decisions and save time for both the employee and their prospective new boss whom they may otherwise pepper with questions.  

4)    Holiday Calendar & News
It can be difficult to keep track of which holidays merit days off, and when holidays in other countries fall, so it’s always handy to be able to check the company calendar. Additionally, information regarding site changes, new platforms, procedures, and providers, upcoming evens, or deadline reminders that are so often found on HR sites are news pieces can be integrated into either a list-style calendar or a more traditional grid calendar to help employees visualize the deadlines looming ahead. This is especially important during open enrollment!  

5)    Consolidate Learning Resources
Consolidate links to career advancement/continuing education tools, certificate programs, work-sponsored online learning like LinkedIn Learning, internal career growth tools, the HR knowledge base, and all other information and assets associated with learning. For example, policies and procedures regarding loan forgiveness, continuing education policies, and online learning resources that are company-sponsored are all often found in very distinct, unrelated areas of the intranet. Yet each of these examples are simply one method in a multi-faceted approach to learning, and consolidating their locations can help employees understand the breadth and depth of options at their disposal.

What hasn’t been mentioned above is the fact that HR pages must also keep the standard high-traffic offerings like payroll and compensation, expense reports, travel expenses (hotel accommodation and transportation booking), complaints, requests, and other “standard” HR-related offerings must still be readily available and easy to find as everything mentioned above. These features are just as vitally important to include, and absolutely cannot be overlooked. However, many of these features will simply be linked to a third-party vendor software that handles the data rather than managed in-house, they can be presented with significantly ore flexibility.

When all is said and done, a well-designed site that make the user experience less difficult (or, dare I say, even easy?) will benefit both sponsors and employees, and may even help to drive engagement.

These articles are prepared for general purposes and are not intended to provide advice or encourage specific behavior. Before taking any action, Advisors and Plan Sponsors should consult with their compliance, finance and legal teams.

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