How employers choose to communicate and engage with their employees, particularly, in remote and hybrid workplaces can often differ, but one thing that has remained fairly consistent over the years is the traditional intranet.
But how we work and communicate in the workplace is evolving, and evolving quickly, which has led to the rise of new tools like Employee Experience Platforms (EXPs).
But what are they? Are they replacing traditional intranets? Do intranets have a place in the workplace anymore? What are the pros and cons of each?
This blog reveals all, so let’s dive in…
What is an Intranet?
Intranets emerged in the early nineties.
They are often the go-to for larger enterprises, acting as a digital hub to share company information and store resources.
They reside on a private network contained by the enterprise for restricted access (e.g. you need to be on a VPN or other secure network).
Whilst they started out as static portals, they have since evolved to become social intranets to support collaboration.
What is a digital workplace?
As employees became more remote and mobile, employees needed to access their information easily.
Digital workplaces evolved as a consequence, acting as an overall working environment that contains all of your business communication and collaboration tools – including your intranet.
Virtually every company today has some form of digital workplace, and at its simplest, it’s a collection of tools and content.
An intranet, on the other hand, sits inside your digital workplace.
What is an Employee Experience Platform?
As employee journeys become increasingly digital, Employee Experience Platforms were born.
They were developed to fill the critical gap between traditional intranets and digital workplaces.
Whilst they act as a digital workplace in many ways, they host new features that enhance the end-to-end digital employee experience journey.
This includes things like integrated apps, digital assistants, personalized communications, recognition features, and more.
What’s the difference?
Companies are always looking for ways to keep employees engaged and informed, and as workspaces move from the office to home, this became more challenging.
Whilst both EXPs and traditional intranets are designed to help us stay connected, they focus on different parts of the employee experience.
EXPs are a fresher, innovative concept in the world of HR and people management, taking a different approach to the traditional intranet.
Whilst intranets offer the ability to store and connect content and resources, EXPs provide a personalized experience that spans the whole digital experience. This means that employees get information that’s not just relevant but tailored to their unique journey within the organization.
What are the key differences?
One of the key differences between Intranets and EXPs is their approach to personalization.
Intranets provide the same information to everyone, regardless of their role or preference.
EXPs, on the other hand, use personalization to deliver content and experiences tailored to each employee based on role, department, and preference.
This fosters a stronger sense of connection and value among employees.
Feedback and Recognition
EXPs hold a distinct advantage when it comes to feedback and recognition.
Intranets can serve as a communication tool, but they often lack the ability to offer real-time recognition.
They function as a static repository of information, with some additional comment and social functionality, whereas EXPs offer an interactive and engaging experience such as the gamification of peer-to-peer recognition within the platform.
With an intranet, you can often access basic reporting functions such as page views and downloads, which provide a great high-level overview of engagement, but typically lack the ability to track much more. This limitation can hinder the delivery of targeted insights.
EXPs provide more comprehensive data that goes beyond what a traditional intranet can provide, such as feedback and engagement metrics.
With rich data collected by EXPs, organizations can make more informed decisions to continuously improve the employee experience.
They can identify trends, pain points, and areas of success – enabling data-driven decision-making.
Onboarding and Training
Intranets can serve as repositories for training materials, EXPs elevate those resources.
For example, with HulerHub, you can create a personalized collection of onboarding content to share with new recruits which lives inside their own account. They might be able to access items like a welcome video, job description, employee handbook, relevant training materials, induction plans, and more. An intranet would simply act as a home to store those items.
Interactive content, gamification, personalization, robust tracking, and collaborative learning experiences are all features inside an Employee Experience Platform that can elevate the experience from simple content storage.
As remote work becomes the norm, EXPs have evolved to make life easier.
Whilst intranets offer information-sharing, they often take a one-size-fits-all approach.
EXPs bring the whole experience together to keep the employees connected and engaged.
Intranets are often just document warehouses, and whilst they centralize information, finding what you need can often be a frustrating process because they’re difficult to maintain.
Organizations that use an intranet, often purchase additional platforms to support the employee experience, such as separate recognition tools.
Employee Experience Platforms act as an all-in-one platform. They bring together communication, collaboration, information, and training etc into a simple, accessible platform that has been optimized to the employee’s personal needs and preferences.
Traditional intranets are notorious for their clunky interfaces. SharePoint users, for example, often rely on technical specialists to update and maintain their intranet sites.
Employee Experience Platforms have been designed with a consumer-grade experience in mind, both for front-end users and administrators.
This diminishes the need for technical support, helping to empower people teams, whilst creating really engaging, intuitive experiences for the end user.
Do I need an EXP or will an Intranet do?
Whilst Employee Experience Platforms offer a lot of advantages compared to an intranet, they are not designed to act as a replacement, but rather enhance.
Both intranets and EXPs have a role to play, and traditional intranets continue to provide the foundation for information sharing and centralizing resources.
However, as the needs and expectations of employees continue to grow, EXPs step in to offer a dynamic and personalized experience that caters to the diverse and evolving needs of today’s workforce.
With the rise of remote work, varied work styles, and the emphasis on employee well-being, EXPs are changing the course for a more connected, engaged, and thriving workplace ecosystem and could be the perfect addition as your employees learn to adapt to continued change and disruption.
If you’re unsure whether an EXP would be the right fit for you, reach out and a member of the team would be happy to talk you through the pros and cons in more detail.