Does Your Corporate Intranet Connect Your Entire Global Organization?

© Sergey Ilin - Fotolia.com
© Sergey Ilin - Fotolia.com

Every company operating on a global basis is interested in having all their employees worldwide identify  with the company  Many companies use an “Intranet” for this purpose.

But often, the design can be flawed and even lead to disconnects with global employees. Do you think the design of your intranet makes employees worldwide truly identify with your company?

Let me set the stage:  The intranet affects all employees in all countries, not just the headquarters location. Close your eyes and try to put yourself in your employees’ shoes in another country. Next, go to your company’s intranet and see it through their eyes.

Defaulting to the headquarters country?

If your company is like most, the first screen gives news about the company, usually heavily skewed to the headquarters country. In addition to corporate news, there may also be information that, again, applies only to the headquarters country like:

  • Upcoming events such as parties, sports activities, etc;
  • Discounts for local restaurants or health clubs;
  • Recent promotions of employees;
  • Upcoming public holidays; and,
  • Upcoming “all employee” meetings.

Clicking another tab might take you to the Benefits screen where all headquarters country benefits are prominently displayed. Imagine how much sense these benefits make to your employees in Thailand.

Many times the title on the benefits screen doesn’t even label them as “Headquarters Country Benefits.” Clicking on another tab, you find Human Resources policies — again, specific to the headquarters country. In fact, no matter where you look on your company’s intranet, about 95 percent of what you see is headquarters country information.

In all of my international travels representing headquarters Human Resources, surprisingly, this has been one of the issues employees have talked to me about most often. It is irritating to them, and does nothing to make them feel like a part of the company.

The intranet is, after all, meant to share company information with all employees in all countries. What is supposed to be a positive turns into a negative.   Instead of feeling included as part of the team, they feel excluded.

Here’s what HR pros can do

What can HR professionals do to correct this situation?  You might want to get a global team together and brainstorm alternatives.

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For example, you may decide that the main screen should be reserved for company news that affects all employees worldwide. You may also decide that each country or region should have its own screen where local information and events are posted. Technology exists to deploy certain information based on employee credentials (login information), and in multiple languages.

No matter what solution the team members come up with, at the very least they will feel included in helping to solve a company-wide issue and respected for being able to provide input into the recommendation.

I will share one example of a leading French-headquartered technology company. When an employee logs on to his/her computer in Argentina, for example, the first screen shows information that is specific to Argentina. There is a screen for each country as well as a screen strictly about corporate news that applies to all employees worldwide.

In this way, employees in each country have news specific to their country as well as corporate news. They also have tangible evidence that the company believes all employees worldwide are important. As a result, employees are likely to identify more closely and feel more connected to the company.

How does your company design its intranet?  Is it designed like the company described above?  Or is it heavily skewed towards headquarters’ country information? Think about it.

Jacque Vilet, president of Vilet International, has more than 20 years’ experience in international human resources with major multinationals such as Intel, National Semiconductor, and Seagate Technology. She has managed both local/ in-country national and expatriate programs and has been an expat twice during her career. She has also been a speaker in the U.S., Asia, and Europe, and is a regular contributor to various HR and talent management publications. Contact her at jvilet@viletinternational.com.

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