How Design Builds Company Culture and Boosts Employee Engagement

5 examples of intranet design and internal HR marketing efforts that truly shine, attract and retain a workforce

Your company intranet is more than just a place where employees log their hours or put in their annual vacation days. From HR and legal to payroll and content management, it’s a centralized hub where the various facets of your organization come together.

According to research from Powell 365, employees value intranet design. If the space lacks attractive and logical design, less than half of employees will choose to interact with these platforms on a daily basis. And as the daily touchpoint across all teams and departments, that’s a lost opportunity on a potentially powerful source for community and collaboration.

With an effective design strategy, internal communications can be used as to cultivate a positive corporate culture and improve employee engagement. When creating and managing an attractive and compelling internal communications platform, there are a few key design considerations to keep in mind. It should be easy to navigate and provide ample space for feedback and collaboration, for instance – but the space should embody your company’s core values and visual language, as well.

Read on for five best practice enterprise examples of effective intranet design, and how you can incorporate them into your own HR marketing efforts.

Emma Norris



SAP Success Factors

This cloud-based HR management software has been masterfully designed to streamline employee acquisition and improve retention. A plethora of powerful features for employees has been packed into SAP Success Factors, although you’d never know it from its sleek and minimalistic interface. While the modern layout is universally appealing, organizations can easily customize colors, backgrounds and fonts to complement their branding.

With a simple box layout, the admin center hub is customized for each user to allow them to easily access the information they need regularly. One key way SAP Success Factors improves employee engagement is through the use of goal-setting features. Progress towards key KPIs and individual KPIs and goals are presented through graphs to keep employees on track and motivated.

Image via America’s SAP Users Group

DESIGN TIP: Consider using elements like graphs, bar and pie charts and percentages that visually represent employee progress towards various goals on the intranet homepage. This not only motivates employees to do their best work, but also incentivises them to visit the intranet time and time again. You may also think about creating a monthly blog post announcing progress towards company-wide goals, and using the intranet homepage as a central hub to host these articles.


Microsoft SharePoint

With a clean and modern design, Microsoft Sharepoint is the perfect starting point for any staff intranet. Seamlessly blending grid and list elements, the cloud-based platform has clearly been designed with user experience in mind. The color coding of different departments not only contributes to the aesthetic of the intranet, but also allows employees to locate the information they need at a glance.

This is an intranet hub that has been optimised to function perfectly on mobile as well as desktop, reflecting the changing technological needs of the modern workforce. With in-built features including workflow management software, a newsfeed and easy-to-access lists, Sharepoint encourages collaboration and productivity amongst teams.

Image via Akita

Design tip: Your employees aren’t always on their desktop computers, so make sure you’re thinking multi-screen when it comes to your HR marketing and internal communications efforts. With today’s accessible design editing tools, it’s easy to optimize standard content creation for mobile-friendly experiences across devices alongside.


Bauer Media’s Mediavine

Equal parts elegant and eye-catching, publishing company Bauer Media Group’s intranet perfectly encapsulates their brand values. Simplicity is key on the intranet homepage, with color coding and icons aiding the employee’s user experience.

This simplicity can also be seen in the intranet design of Bauer Media’s Australian branch. Rather than overloading the homepage with text and calls-to-action, the design team has relied on a clean grid design and bold iconography to direct employees where they need to go.

Beyond the initial navigation, Bauer Media’s intranet encourages collaboration and community through their staff news section. This includes a section where managers and employees can post positive comments about the achievements of their colleagues or teams. Features that allow for this kind of peer-to-peer feedback are an excellent way to promote a positive team culture.

Image via Interact Intranet

Design tip: Your intranet homepage doesn’t have to contain dozens of sections. In fact, keeping it minimal is often more effective than the alternative – busy pages, overloaded with text. Ensure you have the foundational elements down pat and keep your design simple by trying out bold colors, typography and icons with eye-catching grid designs to create an intranet experience employees actually enjoy visiting and interacting with.


Coopers Spark

With more than 250,000 employees across 157 countries, finance company pWc’s intranet plays an important role in connecting its global teams. The portal, Spark, was intentionally designed to resemble a social media feed to encourage social collaboration amongst its millennial employees. Employees can update their status, “friend” or “follow” colleagues, and join relevant groups.

pWc Global Knowledge Channels Leader Simon Levene tells Simply Communicate – the online community for internal communications professionals – that designing Spark was a collaborative process. “The average age of people in PwC is 28 and a few months, and we found that more and more of them just could not cope with the way we wanted them to work. They told us that the way we did things was too old-fashioned and too difficult,” Levene says. “So rather than argue against them, we asked them to help us make it better by turning them into advocates.”

Image via Simply Communicate

Design tip: The best way to know what your audience wants is to ask them! Consider opening up the design process by polling employees, sending questionnaires and holding brainstorm sessions to learn what they want out of their intranet, as well as asking for their feedback throughout the process.


The Hershey Company’s The Conche

For global confectionery company Hershey’s, the key goal of their intranet platform, The Conche, was to unite disparate teams and increase employee productivity. To do so, they created a portal that is classic, simple and intuitive to navigate. The homepage is reminiscent of a blog website, showcasing relevant news and company achievements — a wise design choice that is sure to work towards increasing employee engagement.

“The more aware we are of what is going on in the industry, the more prepared we can be to address those challenges to stay at the forefront of the global snacks market,” Carlos Amesquita, Chief Information Officer at The Hershey Company, tells Unily. “For example, today, brand managers read global marketing updates on The Conche so they can react swiftly to competitors.”

Image via Unily

While company impact is the focus of the homepage, the layout also includes clear navigation to important documents, as well as opportunities for communication and collaboration. “Now that we can log into The Conche for the information we need on any device, anywhere, we are sharing insights and collaborating on documents in real time,” says Amesquita. “It all adds up to a more effective working ecosystem.”

Design tip: Take a leaf out of Hershey’s book and create an eye-catching newsfeed experience on your intranet’s homepage. This can be an equally or even more effective way to direct employees to new blog posts than simply sending them an email.

And don’t forget to consider the design of the blog posts themselves as well, using not only images but other multimedia elements like video and animation to break up longer reads. With research showing that 59% of executives would prefer to watch a video than read text, using video in your internal communications is sure to be an effective way to engage all tiers of your organization.

All companies have their own individual needs and values, and this should be reflected through the design of their intranet. However, by taking inspiration from these five effective examples of intranet design, you can create a portal that promotes a positive corporate culture, employee engagement, and collaboration across teams.