Lean social intranet: 5 tips that will improve exchange between generations

Digital Workplace - Published July 9, 2020

Well-informed employees are more motivated than others, but how do you reach less involved people? The “lean method” can improve communication on the intranet and increase customer satisfaction. However, some basic principles must be fulfilled in order to motivate both young and older employees to exchange ideas.




People are on different frequencies

How can people find it so difficult to deal with something as simple as communication – two parties talking to each other using the same channel? Companies often experience this as a major problem. After all, people are on different frequencies. They talk to each other, but do not hear each other. This naturally causes disadvantages, not least of all for the customer.

The solution to this problem can be a social intranet. An intuitive platform on which all colleagues can find each other, regardless of department, location, expertise, or level, and where sharing, liking, reacting, adding, and adapting is the most normal thing in the world. Studies* have shown that in companies that have a social intranet in place, approximately 92% of employees have access to this digital workspace. So, the problem is obviously not access, but use! Many employees experience their social intranet as a mere addition to their normal work areas, not as a necessity. Very often, email is still considered the best tool for exchanging information and knowledge. But not everyone thinks this way.


The generation gap must be closed

Email is and remains a popular means of sharing information. And yet, its popularity and use are shifting with regard to generation: It is mainly older employees (55+) who stick to email. Younger employees, on the other hand, are often annoyed by the flood of email and feel more comfortable with modern, social channels like WhatsApp. Thus, there is still plenty of communication, it just uses different channels. If both groups cling to their own vision and preferences, they will never come together on the social intranet. So, something must change. But what? And how? To get ahead here, we use the lean method.


What’s lean?

A widespread, but false, assumption is that “lean” refers solely to the improvement of production processes. In fact, this philosophy has its origins in the factories of the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. But it contains much more. Lean is based on a process that is of utmost importance for any company: the ever-changing needs of the customers.

Lean is a method to prepare people for the challenge of ever-changing customer needs: How can we offer our services in a targeted and efficient way? Optimal communication is fundamental to this. This is where the connection between lean and social intranet becomes apparent: communication – also on the intranet – must be effective and efficient and focus on the goal above all: successful projects and the provision of requirements on the customers’ side.


Can lean help make our social intranet successful?

According to Frits de Vries, founder and CEO of LeanENT, a “lean intranet” can be achieved in four steps:

  • Create awareness. Do not hide problems but uncover them.
  • Overcome paradigms. Change means resistance. But when paradigms are broken, there is room for innovation and dynamics.
  • Action. All theory is useless, the new corporate culture must be lived and exemplified. Give it some time but keep at it.
  • Improvement. Learn, evaluate, and improve together.

In this way, the lean method kills two birds with one stone: It increases efficiency in exchange and thus, the flexibility a company needs to satisfy customers. This does not mean that the company has to change all its processes directly. A few simple rules can already be very effective in helping to convert the social intranet to lean and thus, pave the way. The following five tips should help to use a social intranet in such a way that employees of all generations participate and initiate efficient processes.


5 tips for activating employees of all generations

  1. Give an introduction: Explain in a statement or introductory course why and for what the social intranet is intended. Only when employees recognize the benefits and know exactly what they can and should (and should not) do on the intranet, can they use it properly. In this way, you also prevent the platform from being “misused” for irrelevant information.
  2. Manage the exchange: Determine which information is really necessary and which only distracts from the goal (customer satisfaction). A community manager can support the users and inform them if they are not using the intranet in a goal-oriented way. Removing outdated information is also part of the process, as this is the only way to keep the social intranet tidy, clear, and relevant.
  3. Ensure a flat hierarchy: Remove all barriers that might prevent people from getting in touch with each other. A lean intranet does not follow the hierarchy of the organization but offers employees from all departments and levels the opportunity to read along, add information, and provide feedback.
  4. Creating topicality: New versions of documents should always be added directly, but should also be marked as such. This way no one has to be in doubt about the timeliness of information. Files and discussions that are no longer relevant should be archived. This way, they are preserved but do not burden the clarity and usability.
  5. Make it as simple and user-friendly as possible: To make information really easy to find, you should introduce categorization. This can refer to the project, the topic, the customer, or the department. Of course, the user-friendly search function is also included. As is a simple and logically structured navigation menu.


Just do it!
No matter how many tips you use, the most important step is and remains: Just do it! If the structure is well prepared, invite the employees and start uploading documents and getting to know each other. It doesn’t matter whether an older or younger employee takes the first step! As soon as one of them has started to implement the social intranet as a new workplace, the others automatically join in.


This blog was previously published on Frankwatching.


*Source: Entopic Intranet Monitor

Hans Koekkoek

9 Jul 2020