Corus Entertainment’s brands deliver compelling, engaging, interactive and informative content to millions of people every day. The company’s portfolio of television services encompasses 33 specialty television services, 39 radio stations and 15 conventional television stations.
Employees work in diverse roles, lines of business and geographies. They’re all a part of the Corus family, but they don’t always have opportunities to engage across brands in their day-to-day work. Like many companies, Corus has also been evolving its ways of working to a hybrid structure.
Their intranet, which was built years ago on classic SharePoint, lacked the functionality to connect and engage employees. What they needed was a modern intranet that could help bring employees together. They had a vision for a single platform where people could start their day, access information about the business and learn about events happening across the company. An intranet where all employees could see themselves and interact with others within their workplace culture.
“When the pandemic hit, it gave us the opportunity to think even more fulsomely about our culture and what we wanted the intranet to solve for,” says Corus Director of Internal Communications Natalia Williams. “We started to think about how we could communicate with all of our different audiences – people working from home, those working in the office and any journalists in the field. How can we deepen our culture? How can we create a sense of fun that Corus is known for? These are all the elements that we had in mind when we were looking for a platform and a technology partner.”
Choosing GO Intranet
Their previous on-premises SharePoint intranet was nearing end of life, which meant they were at risk of losing out on any future improvements to the platform, like Viva. Moving to a modern SharePoint cloud solution would give them the reliability, security and user access they were looking for.
When Corus surveyed the market of intranet-in-a-box products, they found that their goals aligned with what’s offered in GO Intranet.
Integration with Microsoft Teams was just one of the features they were looking for. Corus had just recently adopted Office 365 company-wide, so GO’s seamless integration made it an attractive option from the outset. The intranet is now accessible to all employees from the homepage on their desktop and on mobile via the Teams app. What really stood out for Natalia and her team were the features to support communications and culture: news, events, social engagement, a brand portal and analytics through Helm Insights.
The Habanero and Corus teams felt like an equally good match.
"The Corus team were really wonderful to work with. They were collaborative right from the start and very interested in taking an iterative approach to their intranet,” says GO Product Designer Hanah Lim. “Everyone there has a strong sense of pride the work that they do, and it shines through.”
“As soon as I met the team at Habanero, I felt the synchronicity,” says Natalia. “We share a similar sense of values and ways of working. The Hab team is fun but approaches the work with seriousness and rigour. It’s very much how we are at Corus as well.”
Moving to modern SharePoint allowed Corus to level up their intranet features to improve usability and increase employee connection and engagement.
Prior to the redesign, employee awareness and use of the intranet were low. Employees knew to visit the site to find a policy or resource, but they weren't sure where to go for everyday information or to learn about what’s happening across the organization. Instead, they relied on the company’s robust email communications to stay connected.
Employees received email communications targeted to their teams, thanks to distribution groups, but this strategy also tended to create information siloes and dead ends. There was no reason to visit the intranet, which lessened opportunities for employees to connect with other groups or learn about company news outside of their team.
The research they conducted showed that employees recognized the value of the email newsletters but were overwhelmed by the volume.
The team wanted to transform the existing company intranet, Corus Central, into the best place to learn what’s going on at the company, using email to tactically direct employees to the intranet for communication and connection. They now send a weekly roundup of business and culture news and information with links to the full content on Corus Central, which has helped reduce the volume of daily mail to employees’ inboxes.
On the new Corus Central, news can be categorized, and employees can select their own personalization preferences to choose what content they’d like to see. Notifications in the springboard tell them when something new has been published, so they don’t have to waste time checking in or scanning for relevant items.
The results have been successful. Recent analytics show that clicks on news items are up, with 67% of the pageview traffic coming from the home page news web parts. That means that most employees are now going to the intranet to find their news instead of sifting through email newsletters.
For events, the numbers are even higher. In the latest three-month period, a third of all intranet users accessed an event page, and 92% of those pageviews came via web part clicks.
The team is taking a test-and-learn approach to build on this success and continue to foster engagement.
“When we have contests or giveaways, we feature them in a news post and ask employees to leave a comment as their entry,” says Bryanna. “This incentivizes people to go to the intranet and helps them become familiar with its features and functionality in a fun way.”
Intuitive search and navigation
Searching and finding information on the old Corus Central was challenging, especially for new hires. Research showed that there was an underlying feeling among employees that the intranet contained valuable information, but no one knew how to get to it.
Navigation was not intuitive, so employees didn’t browse, and they avoided using the search functionality entirely because the results were often unrelated to what they were looking for. Instead, they developed workarounds to get what they needed – bookmarking pages, memorizing links, trial and error or just emailing someone to ask them directly.
Making the move to modern SharePoint offered an opportunity to greatly improve the user experience. The new Corus Central now has a topic and task-based navigation with simple and easy-to-understand labels so employees can quickly find what they’re looking for.
There’s no need for employees to memorize their most-used links. Instead, they can customize their Quick Links in the springboard, which is accessible from any page of the site. From the springboard, they can also access their preferred apps or search the employee directory. Since launch, over 50% of users have interacted with the springboard, mostly to use these top three features.
The new search experience delivers accurate results employees can trust. This was a particularly important feature to support policies and forms, where employees need to feel confident that they’re accessing the most recent version of each document. Analytics show that they’re starting to trust search once again. Site searches have increased; over 13% of users searched at least once in the months following launch, and 57% of all searches come from the policies and forms section.
Before their move to modern SharePoint, their intranet platform lacked the functionality that would allow employees to share a conversation or idea. The new Corus Central helps to bring people together and ensure employees feel connected to each other and the organization with these features:
Commenting and liking
Social capabilities on news posts, content pages and photos allow employees to connect with colleagues across all locations.
Employees can now browse all Corus events, select the ones they want to join and add them to their calendars. A big plus, they can also access event recordings if they want to replay or catch a session they missed.
Employees can share photos of Corus happenings in their home-work space, Corus office, news or radio location or in the field, and comment on photos from across the Corus Community.
Other social features
An expanded Discounts and Incentives page and a new user-led Buy and Sell platform encourage collisions and connections.
The company’s employee recognition program, Corus Star, has always been a popular feature. On the previous intranet, employees could submit their kudos via a form and the recipient’s name would appear in a list on the intranet. For the new Corus Central, they wanted to increase the visibility of the program and give people more opportunities for engagement. To understand exactly how this would take shape on the new Corus Central, the Hab team looked to the findings from their user research.
In listening labs, many employees shared their experiences of receiving recognition from a colleague. Often, they’d print a certificate and post it at their desk. There was a sense of pride and connection associated with the program. Managers mentioned that it’s important to be notified when their direct employees are given recognition. Others shared they often forward the email to people who work above them.
On the new intranet, Corus Star has a prominent place on the homepage with more real estate. The web part allows for commenting, so others can pile on the praise, amplifying Corus’ culture of recognition.
During research, the team also learned that not everyone wants public recognition. To be mindful of people’s different preferences around receiving recognition, the Corus Star feature gives people the option to share their kudos privately.
“Before, we only had the ability to recognize one person and for one value at a time,” says Bryanna. “Now, you can recognize more than one person for multiple values, and we're seeing a lot more people use this feature to recognize teams. People are more congratulatory because it's visible and accessible right on the home page.”
The popularity of Corus Star continues to climb. Site analytics show that 18.5% of users have interacted with the recognition web part, an increase of over 12% since launch. And the Corus communications team are finding creative ways to keep the momentum going with mini-features and other items that spotlight their star employees.
Building on success
Launch day for the new Corus Central was seamless, but it was a journey to get there. Along the way, the Habanero support team was on standby to answer questions and quickly help with any possible problems. They also shared tips on how to attract employees to the site, based on what has worked among other GO clients.
“It was gratifying to put Corus Central out into the world and see how well it’s been received,” says Natalia. “We launched a passport contest, based on Habanero’s advice, which invited people to explore the site to find highlighted words and win a gift card.”
The new Corus Central highlights the great things that are happening across Corus. Every day the team is adding fresh content, and employees are responding. On an average weekday, 21% of users access the intranet.
The team is now focused on the next phase, leaning into their test-and-learn ethos to continue to improve the experience. They’re gathering insights and refining their strategy and content offerings to ensure Corus Central continues to grow as a valuable, engaging destination for all employees.