The challenges of the Covid pandemic have put a spotlight on the role of internal communications. The need to communicate quickly and effectively with employees has been vital and internal comms professionals have really stepped up to the plate.
Sentiment around the profession is optimistic. According to a recent survey of internal communicators, 83 percent felt the crisis has positively impacted trust in communications.
When it comes to reaching a distributed workforce quickly, staff intranets have long been an effective internal communications tool. But not all intranets are equal…
We spoke to Director of Internal Communications Sherrie Voss Matthews of University Health to find out how adopting Valo Intranet right at the start of the pandemic has been a game changer for her and her organization.
How has Valo changed your day-to-day working life?
SVM: Back in 2020, when we were first getting ready to start launching Valo, we wanted a more interactive internet. The one we had was very static, more of a link farm. You’d go, you’d click, you’d find what you need, and then leave. With COVID, we desperately needed something that we could update on an hour-by-hour basis because things kept changing so rapidly.
Valo really helped us do what we would never have been able to do with our old intranet. We were able to update and keep our staff informed. As things changed, and we learned new information about how to keep people safe, it helped us set expectations.
How else has Valo helped during the pandemic?
SVM: It also helped us build camaraderie, which I didn’t really expect when we first used the site.
The original plan was not to use the commenting feature. But since we couldn’t do in-person group events anymore, which is huge in our culture, the ability to have people talk to each other on commenting really made a big difference. It let them have some form of connection.
What features couldn’t you live without?
SVM: We couldn’t live without the “Events” feature. We don’t do in-person events very often at the moment but the “Events” tool has been fabulous because it gives people one location to find out what’s going on. And the fact that you can embed a URL to go to whatever meeting tool you’re using has been wonderful.
We can just build the event, put the link in, then people can register on their own. We use “categories” to sort the events so people can easily find what they’re looking for.
Sounds like there’s quite an emphasis on self-service and empowerment?
SVM: One of the things we’re really trying to do is empower our people to do things on their own. That’s not traditionally been our culture here, so it’s a big cultural shift.
Valo Intranet is empowering people to find information on their own. And to find it more easily.
Who’s responsible for publishing content on the intranet?
SVM: I’ve trained at least 70 or 80 people to be their own section editors so they can own their content. With the previous intranet we had to go through a specific team in IT, and that team would have to upload content, which was a huge frustration.
So, being able use the intranet for empowering those section editors to be able to update their own sites on the fly has been wonderful for the organization.
What other features have been useful?
SVM: The “News Alerts” feature has been really useful. We use the hero rotator on the homepage and that’s where I put the most important or most interesting news stories. It depends on how busy we are, but at the height of COVID, I was probably updating it every two or three hours because we had so much going on.
Also, having the ability to embed videos has been helpful, being able to put up inspirational videos to try to lift everyone’s spirits, or educate them. We do step-by-step guides with animation to show people how to use tools they’ve never used before.
Valo is so simple to use. I always tell people, if you can use Word and PowerPoint, you can use this.
Do you think having Valo has improved employee experience in your organization?
SVM: I do, especially for the younger colleagues. They love the new site. It’s made it easier to find things. It’s made it easier for colleagues to talk to each other. It’s made it easier for them to surface information that normally would have been buried on some page on the old intranet.
How has Valo contributed to your branding and company culture?
SVM: Setting up templates with approved brand colors, fonts and even approved photos really helped us enforce who we are. We had actually just refreshed the brand and renamed ourselves the year before we launched so this really helped us educate people and reinforce the new brand.
Effectively our intranet, which we’ve called “infoNET”, has given us another marketing channel.
Has employee engagement improved since you adopted Valo?
SVM: I think so and I think COVID actually helped us in that respect because the intranet was the only outlet they had to engage.
It also allowed us to come up with new ways of engaging employees, for example, physical challenges. We use the “List” tool to let people compete against each other. We’re doing a jump rope challenge right now and having a list allows them to edit how many jumps they’ve done and basically compete with each other for prizes.
How do you make use of the analytics?
SVM: I compile a report for leadership every month. It’s really useful to see how engaged our staff are and what they’re interested in, which in turn informs the content we publish.
The analytics are really useful to see how engaged our staff are and what they’re interested in, which in turn informs the content we publish.
Our target was for 40-50 percent of the staff to be engaged in any given month, which we’ve been hitting pretty consistently. In fact, it’s generally higher.
How has Valo improved things for you personally?
SVM: I spend less time directing things, and more time just teaching people how to empower themselves using the intranet.
It makes me happy because it means that I’ve let people be able to do their jobs, in their own way, on their own time.
Are you an internal comms professional looking for a self-service, empowering intranet for your organization? Contact the team here at Valo and we’ll be happy to show you a demo.
Plus, you can find out more about Sherrie Voss Matthews’ intranet journey in our University Health Case Study.