Innovative ways Housing Associations are using their intranet to produce fantastic business benefits

The 2011 Intranet Excellence awards attracted the highest standard of entries to date. We were so impressed with the inspiring ways Interact Intranet users have been using their intranet we are giving them the recognition they deserve and sharing them with you.

Housing Association intranets are an area of expertise for us and the entries in this sector illustrated just how effective an intranet in a housing association can be – providing a wealth of benefits that make their business operate in a more efficient and successful way.

Would you like to know how to build a successful housing intranet? Join our free webinar on Wednesday 16th November and get specilaist advice on how it can change the way you work.

Launch Strategy

The Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust implemented an impressive launch aimed to give their intranet a personality and create awareness.

They went with a magic theme to launch their intranet called Merlin. A street magician performed at people’s desks and employees were given Merlin branded highlighters and sweets while super users wore Merlin T-Shirts to promote the brand. Their event consisted of a speech by their CEO and an afternoon of refreshments and entertainment.

Personalised playing card - vayle of aylesbury

Employees gather at the launch - Vale of Aylesbury

By putting on a memorable event with branded merchandise their intranet made a maximum impact on staff and thoroughly established the intranet into the company. The Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust also followed up their launch with user guides and post launch drop-in sessions open to anybody who may have had further questions.

Bron Afon Community Housing launched their intranet, called Buzz with a number of competitions aimed to get users familiar with the features available on the new intranet software. They implemented a series of three fun competitions with prizes available to staff who participated. Staff who completed their ‘About Me’ section were placed into a draw to win an iPod Touch.

Competitions included a ‘Find the Golden Ticket’ incentive, which aimed to encourage people to attend their drop-in sessions. Staff could win vouchers if they picked the winning chocolate bar out of a box. Teaser posters kept the competition fresh and made sure the new intranet was kept in peoples minds. Their innovative ‘Place the Face’ competition was designed to get staff used to looking at Buzz to get to know their colleagues by face.

Due to the huge effort Bron Afon put into their imaginative competitions, their final drop-in sessions to introduce Buzz to staff with practical demonstrations were a huge success and they received great feedback from staff in evaluation forms.

Bron Afon launch competitions


Gwalia ensured staff were engaged in their intranet – The Wall from the outset. They implemented an online and SMS text vote, in the style of X Factor to decide on the name for their intranet and carried out card sorting exercises with staff to decide on the content structure. This drove high levels of intranet adoption, with 83% (and still growing) of all staff having read the intranet in the last 30 days when they entered the awards.

Download our 29 page White Paper:
A guide to intranet success for Housing Associations

Employee Engagement

Bron Afon see their intranet, Buzz as a central tool that complements traditional methods of business processes. They recognised that it was important for staff to buy into the intranet to ensure its success. With the backing of senior management they established a core group of 37 ‘Buzz Contributors’ from across their organisation who meet once a month to share ideas – thus keeping content fresh and addressing any issues they may have encountered. All contributors have a badge which sits on the top of their PC which identifies them as a Buzz Contributor – a great way to identify them and ensures people know who to come to with any ideas or feedback on thenintranet.

Bron Afon intranet - Buzz

Bron Afon engage their users through their Chief Executive’s regular blog which he writes specifically for staff – giving visible leadership and providing a human element to the blog. This really captivates staff, making them feel connected to the business and breaks down barriers between staff and senior management. Their project or team area on Buzz has been specifically set up to break down information silos while encouraging cross-team cooperation, collaboration and regular updates on progress.

To enable the 250 remote Bron Afon staff to feel engaged with the intranet the housing association has installed dedicated Buzz-branded kiosks, which give trade staff improved access to the intranet whenever they’re visiting site offices.

Innovative ideas such as the regular ’11 things you didnt know about…’ section on Buzz has proven extremely successful with staff, retaining their engagement with the intranet. Contributors interview team members with a set number of questions aimed to inform staff of things they might not have known about their fellow employees, which are then published on the intranet.

Getting to know you - Bron Afon intranet

Bield Housing Association’s intranet, Grapevine is their primary tool for communication. Their Pocurement Manager has ensured staff are kept engaged with Grapevine by making current contacts and framework agreements always available to staff. All new information is flagged up to staff with an alert on the homepage and review dates have been set up to gain user feedback and make improvements on the section. This new section prevents staff from trawling through pages of policies and procedures to find guidance on this area.

Staff engagement with the intranet at Affinity Sutton is always a huge priority. Their intranet, The Allotment has a huge focus on collaboration and following their recent corporate value overhaul to include diversity they needed a way to engage employees in this culture shift. A point system was added to their intranet so that staff could collect ‘Diversity Points’ for various activities, which would appear on the home page and then staff could collect rewards. Each week had a different theme focused on diversity including gender, race, belief, disability etc.

Senior management were engaged also and the Group Cheif Executive had his blog published on the intranet. This incentive caused a huge buzz in Affinity Sutton offices throughout the country and the intranet usage saw a huge spike during the week with 20,000 hits overall.

The Allotment - Diversity Page

Other innovative ways Housing Associations are using their intranet to produce fantastic business benefits

A key success in Gwalia’s intranet has been awarding employees using an employee recognition system called Brownie Points – this provides an outlet for individuals to recognise the achievements of their peers which would have traditionally gone unnoticed. This has not only encouraged engagement with the intranet but has also boosted morale. Read more about Interact Rewards.

Mosscare Housing Group deliver a number of in-house courses with training material on their intranet including a clear English online training page. They have also ported links to their website, housing management page database, business reporting software and text messaging software on the homepage. These relatively simple additions have helped the intranet gain traction and become the communication hub for the organisation, requiring users to access the intranet to gain access to other tools. This has made their homepage valuable real estate for communicating information to users

Before the Saxon Weald intranet, SWIS was installed, every form was paper-based and had to be posted to their head office. This lengthy and difficult process was eradicated with the online forms available on their new intranet – saving time, money and the environment. Examples include their holiday booking system and the complaints and compliments process. These forms have released valuable time back to their IT team as their previous intranet required three specialist IT staff to make updates. Now any member of staff can add content to the intranet keeping the system up to date and usable.

Saxon Weald intranet - SWIS

Bield Housing Association utilise ‘working groups’ on the intranet to reduce email traffic and minimise duplication. Through the use of the working group, members are able to communicate and distribute critical information directly to the group without sending a series of emails around , reducing email traffic and improving findability. read more about Interact Teams. Now members of the working group have a one-stop shop for their documents.

At present there are 20 active working groups in Bield Housing Association. The use of these teams across the organisation has saved considerable amounts of time for staff, reducing the reliance on the email system and avoiding duplication of work.


Download our 29 page White Paper:
A guide to intranet success for Housing Associations