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Is Your Intranet Hurting Your Company?

Everyone agrees stagnation is harmful. But rarely do managers or others think about that fact in relation to their intranet. And that's a mistake.

If you think you have a stagnant intranet, this article's for you. Stagnant intranets are actually a surprisingly common and serious problem. They might not seem like a big deal, but consider that intranets touch every part of a company. They're involved in pretty much every area. This means that the affects of a poor intranet could reach essentially every aspect of a company's functions. And that should be a cause for concern.

Check out our 4 Signs of a Stale Intranet to see if you have a stagnant intranet.  Here are some specific examples of what a neglected intranet can do to a company.


Direct Effects

Intranets help with both organization and communication, so, obviously, stagnant intranets can hurt these areas. Harmful effects of stagnant Intranets might seem minor in the grand scheme of things at first, but think about all the important information stored in a company intranet. Imagine what effects that intranet can have on an organization when those negative affects are spread across the entire group. And it could be from something as simple as content is disorganized and stale.

But, there is good news, you don't have to imagine! Research shows the average knowledge worker wastes about a fifth of their workweek trying to locate key information. That's pretty wasteful.

And aside from being frustrating for employees, stagnant or poor-quality intranets hamper productivity. Companies with bad tools rely a lot more on e-mails to communicate. The average employee uses about half of their workday managing e-mail. High quality intranets help reduce the size of these annoying time sinks by streamlining information sharing and storage .

Flaws of poor intranets waste your time and drag your productivity down, driving costs up. And its indirect effects can be much more serious.


Indirect Effects

Julia Nikolich wrote some great articles about employee engagement and dynamic intranets (which I recommend you read). But here we need to talk about the opposite, employee disengagement. Employee engagement is the measure of how excited employees are to do their jobs. Employee disengagement is the opposite. While engagement is developed in a helpful workplace, disengagement is forged in the fires of red tape. Employee engagement can help a company flourish while employee disengagement reduces productivity and increases dissatisfaction. Due to stress, frustration, and many other factors, a bad intranet can easily lead to employee disengagement.

Disengagement hurts companies and employees: it’s not good for anyone. And unfortunately, about 87%  of workers are disengaged. This isn't the fringe; disengaged employees are the majority.

On the company level, a brief glimpse of what disengagement costs: in 2013 US Firms lost about $550 billion to disengagement alone. Studies show a close relationship between disengagement and company profit, productivity as well as employee retention. Thus, disengagement both lowers revenue and raises costs.

On an individual level, disengagement hurts the employees. Disengaged employees are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, and Type II Diabetes. It also drops worker satisfaction. Disengagement is a serious and epidemic issue.


Taking Stock

Now this is not to say that a good intranet will single-handedly fix the disengagement problem and all its resulting side-effects. Or that a stagnant intranet alone caused this problem. That would be irresponsible and wildly inaccurate. But what is accurate to say is that a bad intranet can and often does encourage disengagement by making work frustrating for employees. When it comes down to it, a bad intranet is bad for a company. The harm it causes drastically outweighs the costs saved by ignoring it.

So, what can you do about it? Even if you have no direct authority when it comes to your intranet, you can still make an impact. Share the information with decision makers, socialize the data with co-workers, and work to convince those with the power to affect change to do so. Let's work to end the blight of poor quality intranets and  take some frustration out of the workplace.

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