Communications, CPA Growth Trends

How Firms Use Intranets to Boost Employee Communication and Engagement

How Firms Use Intranets to Boost Employee Communication and Engagement

In the fast-paced world of accounting, where accuracy, communication, and collaboration are paramount, information is essential for firms aiming to maintain an effective and engaged workforce. We each spend hours a day drafting, reading, and responding to emails. A loaded inbox can be an inconvenience at best, and a downright distraction from our clients at worst. Many AAM member firms have recognized the potential of Intranets as a powerful tool to streamline communication, enhance employee engagement, and build a community as we continue to work in a dynamic, hybrid environment.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how some firms leverage Intranets as a modern-day “water color” to create a more connected, communicative, and contented workplace environment.

Create a Centralized Information Hub

One of the primary reasons to create an Intranet is to serve as a centralized hub for content, offering a secure platform where employees can access essential documents, policies, and newsworthy updates. One of the most common platforms that AAM member firms use is Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint sites can be implemented with minimal modifications, or be completely customized, depending on your resources and budget. Other solutions that are commonly mentioned include Workvivo and ClickUp.

Regardless of which solution you choose, by creating a central repository for information, your employees will be able to quickly find the resources they need, reducing the time spent searching their inboxes for overlooked emails and enabling them to focus on their core tasks.

Enable Seamless Communication

Another significant advantage of Intranets is their ability to facilitate seamless communication among team members, regardless of their physical locations. As our industry continues to expand through hybrid work arrangements and mergers, having a library where important information lives becomes essential.

Through discussion forums, chat features, and company-wide announcements, accounting professionals and administrative teams can share insights, and discuss important updates in real-time. This instant connectivity promotes teamwork, fosters a sense of belonging, and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

While the ultimate goal is to reduce email clutter, one AAM member highlighted the ability to push high-priority Intranet posts to employee inboxes. By posting important, action-oriented items to their intranet, they were not only able to reinforce the importance of their Intranet, but they were also able to boost engagement by making the Intranet the go-to source of important firm information.

Encourage Knowledge Sharing

Intranets also provide a platform for knowledge sharing and continuous learning within accounting firms. By hosting the most up-to-date training materials, webinars, and industry-related news, employees can enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest trends and regulations.

Several AAM Members mentioned that this can be best accomplished by nominating a champion, or several leaders to ensure that each respective page on your Intranet is populated with frequent updates and current information. These leaders should be engaged, and passionate about driving firm involvement. While they populate the early adoption stage of the Intranet, they can become guides for the rest of your firm as you expand access to more members and encourage more participation across teams.

Additionally, providing discussion boards allows experienced professionals to mentor newcomers, and informal collaborative spaces can foster a culture of sharing and engagement across service lines, generational gaps, and staff levels. One AAM member highlighted a recognition discussion board, where anyone can provide a “shout out” to another employee on a job well done.

Intranets Enhance Engagement with your Brand

Engagement is the cornerstone of a thriving brand. Intranets offer various interactive features, such as employee directories, recognition boards, and social channels, where team members can celebrate achievements and milestones. By regularly promoting engaging content, including company news, success stories, and employee spotlights, Intranet champions can contribute to a positive work environment, boosting morale and creating a sense of pride among employees.

Whether you’re planning to launch an Intranet, or already have one, building a roadmap for engagement can help make sure the Intranet doesn’t see attrition or drop-off in interest. These roadmaps should include suggested publication intervals to avoid gaps, planned posts, and engagement milestones to measure success.

One creative engagement tool that an AAM member suggested is to host a “scavenger hunt” on your Intranet and encourage employee engagement. This member placed five virtual tokens across their site and offered a prize to the first employee to find them all.

Intranets Improve Firm Retention Rates

A well-implemented Intranet can increase employee retention. By providing a transparent communication channel, regularly recognizing employees’ contributions in a public forum, and fostering a collaborative atmosphere where all are encouraged to participate, firms can build strong employee loyalty.

Furthermore, Intranets enable HR departments to conduct surveys, gather feedback, and address concerns promptly, demonstrating the organization’s commitment to employee satisfaction and well-being. One AAM member hosts weekly polls on various initiatives around the firm to encourage regular Intranet visits and gather feedback in the process. Polls can be casual questions such as where to host the next April 15th celebration, or more serious matters, such as asking whether organizational changes seem aligned with the company’s values.

Tying it all Together

Intranets can be a powerful addition to the toolset with which companies operate, enabling them to create an inclusive, informed, and engaged workforce that crosses geographic and service line boundaries. By harnessing the power of Intranets, many AAM members feel that they can collaborate efficiently, access valuable resources, and contribute to a thriving organizational culture.

As the industry and the technology that powers it continue to evolve, embracing solutions like Intranets will become essential for firms looking to recruit and retain the best employees, foster fun and open communication, and enable your teams to free up their inboxes for client-related tasks.

About Ian McManis

Ian McManis, co-chair of AAM’s podcast committee, was the interviewer for this episode. He is a marketing specialist at Barnes Dennig where he is responsible for niche marketing, seminars and business development support, with a specialization in digital marketing. In 2016 he was named AAM’s Rookie of the Year. Contact him at [email protected].

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