Social Intranets in 2024: Why You Should Still Use Them

The social intranet - today’s productivity champion or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Today’s workplace is about adaptability, communication, and collaboration.
Picture of Patricia Modispacher

Patricia Modispacher

Table of Contents

The Social Intranet – Engage, Inspire, Empower!

Mention the phrase “social intranet” to most, and the responses could be all over the spectrum, both positive and not so positive; “waste of time”, “pictures of cats”, “great way to keep in touch”, “it’s the only way I know what’s happening and when”. 

In 2024, there are now five generations in the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) this includes Post War (1928-1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millenials (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997-2012). That is an incredibly broad audience of employees to be speaking with and hearing from.

Suppose the end goal is to engage, inspire, and empower each of these generations of employees most effectively and efficiently, individually and collectively. In that case, you have a tall order on your hand friend! Certainly, each of these groups has something unique to offer to your organization and its coworkers. 

As such, it can be tricky finding the right tools and methods to keep this multigenerational workforce on the same page, enthusiastic, and inspired to your organization’s mission in the most collaborative of manners.

What Is A Social Intranet?

The original design for corporate Intranets was essentially basic, static websites and portals that allowed employees to access corporate resources, and documentation from a web browser. It wasn’t until the mid-90s that the first bare-bones examples of corporate intranets began developing as an extension of the internet itself. If we fast forward to today, they have morphed into file-sharing services such as Google Drive, DropBox, and OneDrive.

Present day, it’s not just about the push of information out, it’s also about the pull of responses, reactions, and feedback from staff. This is what we’ve now come to understand as the Social Intranet. It’s about collaborating within your team, but also between teams, or quite literally, with the entire company itself. The social aspect of it means it has been imbued with functionality to make the experience less like digital cubicles, and a bit more like digital watercoolers.

Social Intranet Benefits

Today’s social intranets are platforms that are designed to accomplish any or all of the following;
Allows for employee engagement and direct feedback
Increases productivity and removes or at the very least reduces complexity
Staff can create unique content, a springboard for increased motivation and enthusiasm
Fosters higher levels of collaboration
Increased transparency between individuals, teams, and management

While this study from Deloitte may be pre-pandemic, the findings are more relevant than ever due to this global event. For instance, respondents indicated that employee engagement can increase retention rates by upwards of 87%. Additionally, “social tools” as they referred to them in 2014, showed an increase of 20% in satisfaction levels of employees.

A more recent 2022 McKinsey & Company study found that employees who felt engaged in their work were 20-25% more productive than their disengaged coworkers. Additional research from McKinsey & Company shows a number of the top reasons why individuals left a job (without heading to a new job) and then reasons why employees had accepted their current job, many of those reasons point back to topics such as engagement, empowerment, and meaning.

employee happiness mc kinsey survey

So what are some of the key features that make today’s high-performing social intranets stand out from the rest? We thought you’d never ask.

Social Intranet Features

So what are those features that make for a stellar corporate social intranet in 2024 and beyond? As you’ll see, not surprisingly, they mirror most of those of the social media titans such as Facebook, X/Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and the like but with a more professional touch;

  • Company news feeds, employee posts, and the ability to easily interact via comments, tags, and/or sharing
  • Internal messaging
  • Central, searchable information hub
  • Communities, groups, or forums for knowledge sharing and collaboration
  • Directory of employees with personal pages where employees regardless of geographic or departmental location, can learn more about one another
  • Polls and surveys to gauge and trend employee attitudes regarding their teams and the organization as a whole
  • Tight integration with other apps or systems also in use

A truly powerful corporate social intranet is designed primarily around the employees, and not specifically the content therein. When contributed content can be attributed back to their unique individual creators, it then allows for deeper connections between co-workers and the organization they work for.

Internal Communication and Collaboration

While there is a wide variety of platforms and options to choose from, we thought it would be relevant to mention one in particular, that being Atlassian’s Confluence. Its relevance comes into play in the development of this article itself. The concept was created within Confluence in Germany, assigned to a team member in the United States, and a collaborative effort of writing and editing ensued.

  • Research, goals, and other details were provided for the writer, and the drafts were completed via a Confluence page 
  • Comments, feedback, and edits could be made by two individuals in two different teams some six hours apart
  • Work was completed on mobile and tablet devices, in addition to laptops 

The platform at the core of this collaborative effort was Confluence, and it succeeded because it follows the golden rule of social intranets; when you put your people first and provide them with the proper tools, the content will follow.

Confluence As Social Intranet

Our hope for you, the reader, is that you are now inspired and empowered to seek out the solution that will best fit your organization’s needs. Ask yourself these questions and if you’re checking off more yeses than nos, you’re on the right track;

  • Does it engage creativity, discussion, and innovation on my team and within my company?
  • Can it increase productivity and decrease time and costs, while increasing understanding and decreasing confusion and misunderstanding?
  • Does it allow for transparency and honesty?
  • Does it allow you and your colleagues to work from anywhere, at the times and places that work best for you?

Confluence can certainly be that foundational solution as your organization’s social intranet. It’s great for collaboration, knowledge management, technical documentation, knowledge bases, and so much more. As the next step in business collaboration and employee engagement, use it to transform your organization’s digital workflow today!

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