Intranet horror stories part three

Another year, another rendition of some of the scariest communication and branding gaffes that can happen within digital workplaces. Below, for those brave enough to read onwards, we unravel some of the most horrific intranet blunders and provide words of caution for internal comms teams the world over.

Horror stories to avoid when implementing an intranet

The tale of the disappearing frontliners

The end of the year was in sight and the manufacturing department was working at breakneck pace in order to accommodate the upcoming holiday rush. All throughout the expansive factory, workers dutifully wrapped trinkets and pressed buttons to ensure the assembly line moved as quickly and cohesively as possible. The whir of the machines stretched onwards as the hours ticked away, time punctuated only by the occasional bell indicating upcoming shift breaks.

Miles away in a cozy office tucked within the cityscape, marketing team members geared up to announce the biggest launch of the season. Just as an email content manager clicked send on a newsletter touting the exciting product push, a phone call pierced through the serene silence of the work floor. The overseer at the factory was calling to notify the corporate team that production was at a standstill and there was no way any of the inventory goals would be met within the coming months, let alone weeks. The marketer, grimly watching as email engagement figures rose at an alarming clip, asked what was causing the hold up. With palpable panic, the overseer responded that in just a few hours, countless factory workers had vanished.

As the weeks ticked onwards, additional members of the assembly line failed to return to the workplace. Each team member that disappeared was never to be heard from again. Production came to a complete halt and the corporate office was inundated with angry emails from customers requesting their goods in time for the holiday season. Eventually, the overseer discovered that the factory workers had not in fact vanished. Rather, the manufacturer’s entire frontline had been lured to the company’s biggest competitor. This savvy alternative brand took every effort to ensure that their manufacturing team felt connected to the organization at large. Frontline staffers were given access to the company’s intranet through their personal mobile devices. By accessing this communications pathway, retail team members were able to receive critical enterprise-wide updates and forge meaningful connections with stakeholders all-across the organization. The mobile intranet even spotlighted a rotating selection of workers, including frontline staffers, in order to provide exemplary team members with the recognition they deserve.  

Word got out amongst the manufacturing team, leading more and more employees to trade in their keys for greener pastures. By the holiday season, this innovative competitor far surpassed all of their sales goals, leaving other brands entirely in the dust. The moral of this terrifying tale: frontline staffers play a crucial role to the success (or failure) of many enterprises. Organizations that utilize digital solutions to boost engagement throughout this key segment of the workforce will come out on top, while less savvy competitors will suffer from high turnover rates and all of the perilous costs associated with this major workplace issue.


Spooky halloween scene

The ghosts of intranets past

The internal communications team had been hard at work, preparing for the launch of a large enterprise’s new, centralized intranet software. The team couldn’t help but marvel at the success they anticipated they would achieve within the coming weeks. Communications staffers had taken every effort to prepare colleagues for the upcoming launch; they had sent out several emails announcing the new intranet, previewed exciting bespoke features to build buzz surrounding the launch, and designated unique resources dedicated to expediting the onboarding process. Although the debut of the new intranet was still several days away, employees even celebrated with an early champagne toast.

The big day arrived and the launch team sat back and waited for an influx of praise to roll in.  The team was so confident that the new digital workplace would boast 100% adoption and implementation rates, due to the innovative features embedded within the intranet. They awaited commendation from stakeholders across the enterprise, who would surely tout the heightened efficiency that would come with uniting more than a dozen previously segmented intranets. The communications team was equally excited with the creative new identity they had forged for the enterprise at large. Employees within this group had held brainstorming meetings to build a new set of organization-wide values and had created a content deck that incorporated all of their recommendations for best practices.

The weeks passed by and not a single complementary email was received. There were no approaches from stakeholders, touting the efficacy of the new intranet or praising the team for their innovative employer brand identity. Most disappointingly, the high engagement numbers that the internal communications team were eagerly awaiting were never to be seen. Instead, adoption figures were relatively high for the first few days after launch and then they began to sharply decline. As the months stretched on, participation rates continued to plummet all-across the intranet. The internal communications team was entirely at a loss for reasons behind these lack-luster engagement metrics. Several emergency department meetings were held and when confusion continued, stakeholders were invited in to offer their insight.

It was only once higher ups across the enterprise were called in that the central problem emerged: employees were haunted by the ghosts of intranets past. While the internal communications team had attempted to bridge the unique qualities of each subsidiary brand into one comprehensive intranet, they had in fact essentially murdered the specific qualities that set each division apart. Adoption and engagement lagged because the new intranet did not preserve the differentiating elements that were key to success for the different verticals within the umbrella brand. The communications team’s new employer brand identity lacked input from any subsidiary stakeholders and as a result, employees were wistful for their old, brand-specific intranets.

Although the functionalities of the new workplace were far superior, the ghost of intranets past continued to haunt employees and prevent thorough adoption of the new intranet. In order to genuinely unite the enterprise, internal communications team members needed to revamp their employer brand by including input from stakeholders within each division, allowing the ghosts of intranets past to finally be put to rest.

Halloween pumpkin in the woods scared of intranet failures


3 intranet horror stories

It’s easy to think that the masterpiece intranet that you have built will stand the test of time and last forever. Eventually however, things become slow, bits break, and it is time for a refresh to give your intranet a new lease of life. So without further ado, and in line with the impending all hallows’ eve, we present three new intranet nightmares… that for all you intranet managers out there, will make your blood run cold!

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Keep your enterprise safe during this spooky season

The scary stories above can serve as cautionary tales for stakeholders who are interested in launching a digital workplace as well as leaders who wish to take their current intranet to the next level. Even the newest tools and high-touch functionalities aren’t enough alone to save enterprises from low engagement with frontline staffers or poor adoption rates throughout their organization. If you are looking to create or improve your intranet in order to sidestep these disasters, our digital workplace experts are here to save the day. Get in touch with them to protect your enterprise from these common sources of demise.

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