New hires are an important category of users when you are (re)designing your intranet. It pays off in many ways to identify them and to make sure they are well represented throughout the design process. You may also want to introduce specific KPIs for them, or at least track their performance against overall KPIs separately.
New hires are different – use this to your advantage
New hires are different from your regular employees. Most importantly, they have never used your current intranet before, so they are ideally placed to give an unbiased opinion about the improvements or new features that you are planning to implement. My advice is to use new hires as much as possible throughout your entire intranet (re)-design project. You can do this in many different ways:
- Run a dedicated workshop (or a series of interviews) with a number of recently hired employees, and listen to what they have to say about your current intranet. They will give you an honest opinion about what’s good and what’s not, unbiased by ‘historic reasons’ why certain things are the way they are. You’ll collect a lot of great ideas for improvement this way
- Involve newcomers in card sorting exercises. The intranet is a crucial tool to help new hires in their on-boarding process. If things are not structured logically, they will waste valuable company time trying to find the tools and information that they need.
- If you are using personas, then make one for your typical new hire. This persona will be different from company to company. Some companies grow mainly through regular recruitment of young college graduates, while others may do little direct recruitment but grow through acquisitions. Whatever the case may be, work out a detailed persona for your typical newcomer and use it throughout your project. See a good introduction to the concept and the benefits of personas here.
Track how your newcomers are using the intranet
Most companies have a set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in place to track usage of the intranet, adoption of new features, employee satisfaction etc. Make sure that you track newcomers’ performance against these KPIs (Or even better: design one or two specific KPIs for newcomers, such as level of engagement with colleagues through your social features). For instance, if you run regular employee satisfaction surveys, make sure that you track newcomers’ satisfaction separately. If you’re doing the right thing then newcomers’ satisfaction with the intranet should be higher than overall satisfaction (if the opposite is the case then you have work to do!). As I pointed out in my earlier post, Fighting intranet chaos – a new information architecture at SWIFT, long-time employees tend to resist change and may prefer the intranet ‘the way it used to be’.
For a nice example of how a well-designed intranet, with the right level of social features, can help new hires get up to speed, see The On-Boarding Experience You (and Your Workforce) Has Always Dreamed of by Lisa Lyssand, HR Director at BroadVision.
- Become a group member: For much more on intranets; not just for new hires, but all the other aspects of running one, check out our J. Boye groups across Europe and North America. Not yet a group member? Find out which one is right for you.
- How does your intranet measure up? Get an intranet benchmark!
- Join us at a J. Boye conference in 2012: Our next conference will take place in Philadelphia from 8 to 10 May 2012. There will be a full-day intranet conference track and another SharePoint conference track.