Internal communication is increasingly important in today’s large organizations. Creating team spirit requires some extra effort when there are over 14 000 users in several roles and proficiency using digital tools varies. While Mehiläinen, a provider of private healthcare and social services in Finland, started their intranet renewal project, these factors were taken into consideration to make the process successful.
- Industry: Healthcare
- Country: Finland
- Company Size: 5001 – 20 000
Starting Point – Office 365 environment but non-responsive intranet: “The old intranet did not support mobile work sufficiently. It wasn’t responsive, and you had to sign in using a VPN connection”, recalls Mehiläinen’s Internal Communications Specialist, Harriet Haras-Refael.
Mehiläinen had already started to use cloud-based Office 365 tools but the old intranet did not support mobile work sufficiently. As many of the employees work remotely on a regular basis, it is very important for them that the digital tools and services are up-to-date and are able to support their daily work.
Mehiläinen is a prominent Finnish operator in healthcare services with over 360 facilities, employing over 14 000 people across Finland, making them one of the largest Finnish workplace service providers. In addition to medical center services, Mehiläinen offers public healthcare services as well as social services in multiple sectors.
Solution – Intranet solution compatible with existing Office 365 environment. Based on this specification and mapping out the options from out-of-the-box solutions to intranet in-a-box solutions, Mehiläinen chose a SharePoint-based intranet solution, Valo.
Benefits – mobile-friendly intranet that supports O365 services as efficiently as possible. Mehiläinen wanted the new intranet to support the needs of the mobile workers and also offer the administrators a chance to genuinely work remotely. Employees are now able to sign in to the new mobile-friendly intranet, both on the road and in their home office.
An intranet that not only informs people but also builds team spirit
“I joined the project when Blue Meteorite had been selected as the implementing party. As the project manager of the modernization project, my task was to find representatives from the different operations and corporate support services to design functionalities and possibilities for the new intranet, as well as to see about moving the content, and implementing the project within the whole corporation,” Haras-Refael recounts, during the early stages of the project.
Building team spirit was one of the objectives with the new intranet.
We want everyone working at Mehiläinen to feel like they’re part of a larger whole and to be aware of what goes on in the different business units.
The job descriptions of the Mehiläinen staff vary greatly, with some spending more time in front of the computer than others. “One of the challenges was to make people aware of the possibilities the intranet has to offer. Not everybody uses the intranet daily, especially those working as caregivers or surgeons. But our task is to be there to help and support them when they need the service,” Haras-Refael points out.
Lighter intranet with emphasis on communication
At the start of the technical mapping stage, all the possible options, from fully customized to in-a-box solutions, were discussed.
“It’s hard to be creative when you start from zero and have to think of the package as a whole. The turnkey solution from Valo was a perfect solution to this. When we were making the decision, Blue Meteorite’s extensive experience and expertise spoke for itself,” Haras-Refael recalls.
In the new intranet, Mehiläinen wanted to make a clear separation between communication and work. “The old intranet housed a collection of work-related files for over 300 units as well as national patient instructions, among other things. We wanted to make the new intranet lighter, with an emphasis on communication, and at the same time declutter information management. In practice, this meant decluttering the intranet’s navigational structure and centering information management entirely on SharePoint,” Haras-Refael recounts.
“The new intranet has already received positive feedback from users. They have praised it and described it as clear, stylish and fresh. Its responsiveness has particularly received praise,” Haras-Refael continues.
When thinking about my own daily life, one of the clear and concrete advantages of the new intranet is being able to sign in on my phone, for instance, without a VPN connection. It streamlines my day significantly
The project stuck to the schedule and budget. The intranet project started in June 2017 before the summer holidays. The staff arrived refreshed from their summer holidays and attended the first workshops in the fall.
“Everyone in the project team is still friends. So I would say it went really well,” Haras-Refael says with a laugh.
Heavy focus on intranet launch in cooperation with communications, IT and HR department
Internal communication is increasingly important in today’s large organizations. However, creating team spirit does require some special effort when there are hundreds of facilities and 14,000 employees working in different professional roles. Mehiläinen focused heavily on the launch and started to circulate information on the new intranet well in advance.
The new intranet was promoted internally on Yammer and on the intranet as a joint project between the communications and data administration department that was responsible for the helpdesk and technical expertise. With familiarization processes and efficient internal communications, they kept pushing for increased awareness as moving forward. The role of the intranet is continually developed, so the employees learn to look for the right information in the right place.
One of the typical challenges in implementing the new digital tools and services is to get people interested in them and to make them understand how the modernization actually benefits their own daily life.
“Internal communications, especially throughout this project, have heavily influenced changes in communication. When looking at the bigger picture, this can also be called HR communications. It has an impact on how the staff feel about and see their employer. And last but not least, IT communication is also very important. IT communication holds an increasingly important role when tools and services are moved to the cloud,” Haras-Refael points out.
Acknowledging all digital competence levels
It is rare for the staff’s digital competences to be exactly on the same level, which is why you cannot go by assumptions and impressions when developing and training staff. As an example, the purpose and roles of the tools in O365, that are in English, are not self-explanatory to all users. Do the most novice computer users understand what Planner and Stream are for, for instance?
Digital services and tools, such as the intranet and O365 tools, should be made as approachable as possible for everyone. People often think that everybody is young and proficient when using computers and equipment, but in practice, this isn’t true. In a large organization, you need to take everybody into account.
In addition to IT familiarization, supporting the working community is very significant. “We use Yammer actively. It helps create team spirit among Mehiläinen staff members and distribute news on what is happening in the various facilities. There are several active groups. We have, for instance, a SharePoint group where you can freely ask questions about using SharePoint,” Haras-Refael continues.
Redeeming the benefits of digitalization is continuous learning, but efficient and reliable communication goes a long way. The most important thing is to find a common language and to create an atmosphere where people dare to ask and try.
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