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A modern intranet to better engage their teams

In early 2020, the Council’s 350-employee workforce had to quickly start working from home and was looking for a solution to keep employees connected.

Stéphane Recouvreur

Stéphane Recouvreur 27 September 2022

Waimakariri District Council

Waimakariri District is home to over 60,000 citizens across the Canterbury region in New Zealand’s South Island. The district covers 2,217.12 square kilometers and is home to 66,300 people.

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The Council’s existing intranet was an old custom SharePoint build which was difficult for the communications team to update and lacked intuitive collaboration capabilities.

The content was outdated or duplicated, which resulted in employees searching different systems for information and the communications team spending too much time updating content.

“We were in need of a functional and user-friendly intranet which really promoted collaboration and communication. It had to be a platform where our staff could easily find what they needed and enjoy the journey along the way,” explains Sarah Matchett, Digital Communications Advisor, Waimakariri District Council.

Results from an internal satisfaction survey further highlighted the need for a modern intranet to better engage their teams, enable them with access to information and empower them to collaborate digitally.

The survey results showed that 90% of employees were interested in their teammates and finding out who does what across the organization. Interestingly just over 17% of employees were using the current intranet once a week or less.

For their future intranet, employees wanted more news and information about their colleagues and their roles, as well as more useful, relevant, and up-to-date content that was easy to create and find.

The Council chose Squiz Workplace as the intranet solution of choice. Squiz Workplace is now the Council’s one-stop-shop for information on one platform, empowering the communications team and employees to create and publish content with ease and employees to collaborate online in communities.

Employees can also personalize their quick links to see the most relevant information front and center. As existing Squiz Digital Experience Platform (DXP) users, the communications and web teams were already familiar with key capabilities including Matrix CMS and Funnelback search. This meant they could quickly get started with Squiz Workplace with limited training needed.

Waimariki Intranet

The Council now has a fully digitized workforce with a reimagined employee experience, leading the way in local government across New Zealand.

The intranet was launched only months before the COVID-19 crisis, which was a positive test of the platform’s capabilities with all of the Council’s employees working from home within a relatively short time frame. The phase of working from home has driven a boost in community engagement across the platform as employees are keen to find ways to connect and engage with one another during the lockdown.

Within the first three months of launch, employee adoption has soared:

  • 56,554 unique page views across the platform
  • 37 communities were created with 947 topics created and 1.4k posts
  • Average of 1,965 sessions per week

*Stats taken from 15 January 2020 - 14 April 2020

Waimariki search results

Being able to create content easily has empowered not just the communications team, but all employees to publish news, events, and links, and segment audiences where needed. This has led to 230 news and events items created since launching, an average of 2.5 new posts a day.

Squiz Workplace’s communities and commenting features have proven to be one of the most popular. Particular departments including Libraries use their community as a noticeboard, as they have staff who move between three locations and need a central source of information specific to their needs.

A more recent community has been the “Self-Isolation Chronicles” which is helping the team keep in touch and share goings-on throughout the lockdown period.

Waimariki forums

Important video updates have also been promoted by the communications team as news items that have prompted increased engagement via commenting.

Additionally, the Council saw an opportunity for cost saving with the intelligent search tool, reducing the time taken to find information. Siloed content from existing systems is now brought together into a single user-friendly interface and managed where it lies.

Tools and resources are another way for employees to access existing systems, and the communications team made a conscious effort to create pathways to existing systems rather than duplicate content.

An example of this is the In/Out Board, a Workplace custom-built feature, which lists all employee movements, like OOO or leave, and can be for other applications.

Waimariki portal

“With Workplace up and running, our staff are coming up with more and more ideas on how we can use the intranet to do better every day,” Sarah Matchett, Digital Communications Advisor, Waimakariri District Council.

Squiz Workplace has helped to quickly build a strong sense of connection and community for a remote team working in challenging times. The Council’s communications team continues to improve the intranet with new customizations, based on built-in analytics data and employee feedback. The team has adopted a user-centric and continuous improvement approach to make sure their new intranet is optimized.