With revolution brought by advanced technology, digital communication has flared up globally thus, transforming the terrain revolving around information and media. Emergence of social media platforms have enforced organizations to shift their focus on addressing implications, managing consequences and capitalizing on the innumerable opportunities that digital communication platforms furnish. This new landscape is increasingly rewarding organizations that are responsive, transparent and willingly engaging into direct interaction with their constituents and customers on platforms chosen by them. However, it has become increasingly challenging to convey their stories out, manage brand and developing goodwill amongst their constituents for those who have failed to implement strategies of digital communication. Hence, it is the need of hour that organizations along with compatible IT policies modify their communications practices and outreaching strategies.
Move to digital communication has brought a significant change in how information is found, shared and discussed further empowering organizations to gain benefits from the newer models of engagement and participation. Dynamic blogging platforms where new and interesting contents are regularly added and social sharing and commenting is essential are rapidly replacing static websites with rarely changing information. For employee interactions organizations are increasingly depending on internal or social intranet over traditional meetings. In order to communicate, engage and manage their brand effectively in this new environment, organizations are evolving new skills, practices and policies. Entrepreneurs today have adopted intranets as their digital communication strategy for simplifying internal communication and ensuring into effective growth. Intranet has helped in creating virtual workspaces empowering employees in connecting and communicating anytime, anywhere thus facilitating a sharing, storing and collaborative work culture. Intranet has brought tremendous benefits to retail industries by providing them with a platform to interact socially (Mangini, et al., 2017).
Australian retail giant Woolworth Supermarket has aimed to adopt intranet for establishing an effective internal communication channel for employees. The management understands that for gaining competitive advantage in the fast-paced retail market, it is important that its diverse workforce is supported through intranet. For communicating, engaging and managing their brand effectively in this new environment Woolworths needs to develop new skills, practices and policies. Widespread use of wireless internet, tablets and smart phones have made it easier in accessing and sharing information on different computing devices. This convenience must be taken into account by the retailer while implementing digital communication strategies and choosing content platforms that can easily be connected with varied devices (Fitzgerald, et al., 2014). The primary reason behind Woolworths looking for an intranet solution is its aim to improve internal communication and avert poor performances caused due to disengaged, dislocated and misinformed employees.
Intranets have empowered organizations in evolving and moving beyond the outdated systems where employees would just share information. Today coupled with faster internet speeds, intranets have furnished ways for employees in collaborating effectively. Employee collaboration by creating social elements and shared workspaces via internal intranet has provided benefits like reduced costs to businesses. Intranet can empower Woolworths to encourage collaboration amid employees located differently or in remote areas further promoting free flow of information across all departments. Moreover, other benefits that the retailer can gain from intranet include reduced costs and improved interdepartmental relationships and working practices, transparency at workplace (Sharma and Bhatnagar, 2016).
Complete implementation of social technologies according to McKinsey can provide organizations like Woolworths with opportunities of rising productivity through interaction amid workers 20 to 25 percent. The value of a business lies in use of social tools, which are the heart of the successful intranet not only enhances departmental communications but significantly improves knowledge sharing and collaboration. The report further emphasizes that use of intranet enables employees to spend less time on searching emails and performing job-specific tasks which otherwise consumes 35% of employee time (Elcom, 2014). Organizations can transform its culture and business process through social tools thereby, reaping in the full benefits of intranet. For making the most out of collaborative practices Woolworths must cultivate trust amid employees apart from becoming more open and less hierarchical, which can be achieved through well designed and user-engaging intranet. Moreover, allowing employee involvement while implementing intranet will encourage them in using the platform it its fullest. Employees who enjoy blogging, writing newsletters etc. can create useful content for the intranet which others can apply in their everyday tasks thus, promoting internal collaboration.
Why internal digital communication is important for Woolworths?
Over the years organizations used to invest heavily on building and improving external stakeholders relations and communication. Employee interaction was completely neglected; Woolworths can improve employee engagement by establishing an effective internal communication, which is the key business trend today. By adopting a digital communication strategy it can easily communicate the organizational goals and purposes to employees thus, making them feel valued and clarifying the road to reach the objectives. Use of internal intranet will further lend support to middle management as top-down approach while communicating internally is time taking and lengthy (Karanges, et al., 2015). Effective internal digital communication will help Woolworths in clearly defining the goals and keeping employees well-informed eventually enhancing their motivational levels and ensuring customer satisfaction. A well planned and implemented digital communication like intranet solution will empower employees in prompt handling of any internal and external crisis and convey crucial data across all departments. Implementation of a digital communication strategy will help Woolworths in creating a better working environment and allowing the employees to better know the management. Other than multiple benefits, digital communication will increase transparency and reduce grapevine thus, avert the scope of any conflict, misunderstanding and misconception about the management amid employees (Uckelmann, et al., 2011).
Since Woolworths aims to implement a digital communication strategy at work, an adequate proposal is provided through this report. With its head quarter in Bella Vista, New South Wales, Australia, the supermarket giant operates from 995 stores with the help of 115,000 employees across its stores, distribution centres and support offices (Woolworthsgroup, 2017). Having an upgraded communication system is the inevitable need of retail business thus, adopting internal or social intranet for employee interaction will further simplify its routine operations. Use of intranet will empower Woolworths in furnishing its employees with a virtual space to collaborate and work together. In addition, intranet will centralize information and reduce complexity, which eventually will maximize overall productivity. Using intranet will not only streamline day- to- day activities but also will lessen the errors in sharing information apart from providing ease in accomplishing repetitive tasks. It will also help the management in improving internal communication with company news, organizational chart and employee forums thereby, enhancing employee engagement by centralizing the information. Adopting an intranet solution will further simplify the in-house database by integrating business data into a single database.
Why should Woolworths opt for intranet?
An ROI-engagement study conducted by Harvard Business School reveals that for every 1% increase in employee engagement there is 1000% increase in ROI for social intranet. With rise in decentralization at Woolworths, the need to adopt intranet in its business landscape is increasingly important. The cost-effective element of intranet in terms of maintenance in comparison to other networking services is the key reason behind its popularity in digital communication strategy. Implementation and measuring the effectiveness of intranet on internal communication system will be comparatively easier for Woolworths. Furthermore, making an investment into intranet services would help the retailer in enhancing employees’ productivity apart from cutting down unnecessary emailing by 25.13%. Woolworths will be able to gain competitive edge by improving its profit-making, levels of customer satisfaction and overall productivity. According to Aberdeen survey, opportunities of increased internal communication are offered by social technology eventually driving employee engagement. Improved enterprise communication and collaboration is what motivates organizations in adopting social technology (Moon, 2015).
Embedding social technology into employees daily work process will ensure its successful implementation at Woolworths. Social technology can emerge as a powerful driving force behind employee engagement when it is combined with collaborative Human Capital Management (HCM) systems. It further facilitates employee interaction with colleagues and superiors, work on teams, manage customers and projects, sharing and building on existing knowledge apart from developing social interaction skills. A Harvard Business Review study emphasizes that over the last two decades collaboration specifically between employees and managers have witnessed a hike of 50%. Moreover, nearly 80% of their time is spent on collaborative activities like answering emails, making phone calls, and giving or receiving feedback by employees. Having an internal or social intranet can give heartbeat to Woolworths, particularly when it comes to improve employee efficiency, keeping updated about policies, process automation and improving communication (Bughin, et al., 2012).
However, Woolworths must focus on adopting a unique intranet with features and functionality meeting its business needs. Improved collaboration, communication and connection amid employees and the organisation as a whole is common element found in successfully implemented intranets. The benefit of intranet on organizations is evident from the case example of Australia and New Zealand's leading plus-size clothing retailer Taking Shape, which has been operating from 100 standalone Boutique stores, 50+ Concession stores within Myer and online globally with the help of over 900 employees since 28 years. Before adopting an intranet solution, emails were used for sharing information like forms, sales goal updates and personnel documents as attachments. Intranet served as single resource hub empowering employees to easily access relevant material thereby, increasing their productivity (Rauv, 2017).
Woolworths must opt for the best while implementing a digital communication strategy in a constantly innovative world. Enhancing employee engagement is indispensable for obtaining competitive advantage as it is a proven fact that satisfied employee is a productive employee further driving business growth.
Finally, it can be concluded that organizations can improve productivity by adopting intranet as a digital communication strategy. The effectiveness of internal interaction increases when it is done through intranet. Contents like important announcements, communicating key achievements, new strategies and policies, recognition and promoting employee forums can be executed effectively through intranet. Moreover, Woolworths can improve knowledge management by using intranet as it will furnish employees with a platform where they can share information by discussing or blogging. Intranet will further keep the information centralized thereby, making it easier to access and encourage teamwork.
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