• led by the Digital Experience Team at Renfrewshire Council

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Improving how Council staff access and use digital information

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As home and flexible working becomes more commonplace, we’re building an open and reliable digital place where our colleagues can feel connected.

Our current intranet doesn’t reach all Council staff

This is one of the most pressing challenges in internal communication: reaching all staff online. As you would expect, the breadth of digital technology available to communicate with staff is vast. It goes from intranets, emails and social media to mobile apps and Office 365 tools such as Yammer.

At the Council, we use some of these digital places where colleagues can connect and find staff information. Up until the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, we used our intranet as the single source of truth for our workforce. However, the demand for real-time communication to our colleagues during the pandemic accentuated the limitations of the intranet.

Homepage of Renfrewshire Council's intranet
50% of council workers cannot access the intranet.

50% of council workers aren’t office based and don’t have a council email address or council-owned device and therefore cannot access the intranet. To address this during the pandemic, we began publishing staff content on Renfrewshire.gov.uk and shared it on the Council’s Facebook account so that information would be available on personal devices.

This isn’t the only problem our intranet has. In recent internal surveys, colleagues expressed their frustration with it. They told us that:

  • it’s hard to navigate between pages and search for what they’re looking for
  • key information is missing, such as staff contact details and roles, internal projects currently running, employee benefits, or health and wellbeing information
  • although they value the digital content shared with them, they find our intranet dry

It’s not surprising colleagues find it difficult to use and end up contacting internal teams for help, which takes longer, causes frustration and costs us more.

To address these issues, we’ve developed a plan for our staff information in the Digital Experience Strategy. It starts with openness.

Putting our staff information straight into the public domain

The end of our intranet as we know it is near. We must inform and support our colleagues wherever they work, whether it’s at the office, from home, or elsewhere. The best approach to do so is by making our content open and transparent. That’s why we’ve decided to put our staff information straight into the public domain, on Renfrewshire.gov.uk.

Instead of redesigning a new intranet, we’ll use the future Council’s website to help colleagues look for everything they need without having to get into our network or use their log-in details. They will be able to find information straight from Google search and their own device.

Our staff information on the website will be accessible to anyone, including:

  • people who work for the Council or its partners (HSCP, RL, etc.),
  • our contractors who work for the Council
  • people interested in working for the Council
  • any other audiences who are interested in this content

Opening up our staff information, which includes policies and procedures, and making it more user-friendly is a big culture shift, but one that is essential to help these audiences feel connected with the Council.

Using other digital mediums to give our colleagues more opportunities to connect

We’ll use the staff section on Renfrewshire.gov.uk as our main staff content hub but that’s not it. There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to internal comms and digital.

Alongside the Internal Comms Strategy, which was launched this summer, we’ll aim to bring technology that connects staff to the Council, from before they join us to after they leave. This could take the shape of a staff mobile app, digital signage, and automated and personalised digital communications such as a chatbot.

This plan is part of a much bigger piece of work that will aim to develop a trustworthy, reliable and transparent digital brand and experience for the Renfrewshire community. You can read more about this vision on The Thread.

Starting with the basics

We’ve already made positive changes with the introduction of a staff section on the current Council’s website. This section has been critical for reaching all colleagues during the Coronavirus pandemic and it will keep growing to provide information throughout the recovery phase.

Also, while we’re going to start the process of developing a new Renfrewshire.gov.uk, our two Content Designers, Angela and Catherine, will review our internal content piece by piece, in collaboration with internal services. We want to avoid the future staff information pages being a replica of the intranet – cluttered, impossible to navigate through and possibly inaccurate. A process will be put in place to ensure only useful information goes on the future website, for example:

  • information about being a Renfrewshire Council employee (e.g. staff benefits)
  • policies and procedures that affect all colleagues (e.g. parenting leave policy)
  • processes related to internal services (e.g. how to book annual leave)

Finally, we’ll work on the technical side. This could take the form of system integrations to provide information to our users such as a staff directory.

Share your ideas to help us improve our staff digital channels

Your ideas can help us develop the best digital place for you and our colleagues. Let us know how we’re doing and what you would like us to develop by filling in our feedback form.

Philippe Fara
Philippe became Digital Experience Manager at Renfrewshire Council in 2019. His mission is to build a trustworthy, reliable and transparent digital experience for the Council.