Will Read, founder and CEO of Sideways 6, explains why engaging with staff ideas is vital for improving your business.
In a world where ideas and innovation go hand in hand for any business wanting to improve, it is crucial that companies of all sizes recognise that valuable new ways of thinking can come from anyone within a team, not just those at the highest level. Whether it be an office assistant or director, any employee could be holding a crown jewel idea which has the potential to make a positive impact, no matter how big or small.
Despite the importance of engaging with employees and their ideas, many people still feel as though they lack the opportunity to voice their thoughts and be heard by someone who could take action, often leaving them feeling undervalued in their role. This issue is particularly true of large companies today, who may find engaging their frontline employees and nurturing a sense of identity important and challenging in equal measure.
With research showing that businesses with engaged employees can outperform those without by 202%, companies now should have the right tools in place to help keep employees motivated and empowered to voice ideas, which could prove essential for a business. In light of this, there are various ways that leaders can unlock employee ideas, understand them better and use them to drive their business forward.
Increase efficiency with better management
Due to lack of engagement and poor idea management processes, many traditional methods of collecting and managing staff ideas are ineffective in our digital world. However, by implementing tools which help leaders to better manage employee ideas, businesses can ensure that the best ones are discovered and put into action faster.
Technologies within the idea management space are now offering decision-makers an easy and scalable way to access, understand and act on employee ideas quickly and effectively. With better management, leaders can engage staff and relish new opportunities to increase efficiency, whether this be creating new revenue streams, reducing costs through improved productivity or even delivering great customer service.
Drive collaboration amongst employees
As a business grows, its workforce can often become hugely dispersed or separated into isolated departments. This inevitably makes it harder for leaders to engage their employees in a business-wide discussion and enable people to share their ideas with the whole company. However, encouraging staff to socialise ideas with like-minded people can be essential for driving collaboration across all areas of a business. To do so, decision-makers should make sure they are starting these conversations in places their employees already are. This is where tapping into existing communities can be extremely effective.
For example, Enterprise Social Networks provide an easily accessible channel for employees, working in any location or time zone, to spark the ideas sharing process, by giving them the platform to voice their own thoughts and react to those of others. This is a surefire way to increase peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and keep senior team members well in tune with the thoughts of their workforce.
Boost company culture
A simple engagement with an employee can work wonders for a company’s staff culture. No matter how big or small the interaction - a quick thank you or praise of a good idea - listening and feeding back on an idea can work to give employees the recognition they need to stay motivated and committed to helping the business on its journey.
Enthusiastic employees will often invest extra time, effort and initiative which can increase productivity and create a better sense of team morale. Giving employees the voice to communicate ideas with passion and energy can not only make way for a better company culture, but will also reflect on the overall success of the businesses.
Spread innovation faster
It goes without saying that for any business, the people who are best placed to think up new ways to improve are the ones who know it inside and out - its employees. Working closely with customers on a daily basis gives them the insight needed to spot any problems or pain points felt by the people investing in the company’s service. So what better way drive innovation than with the ideas of those who can use these experiences to find opportunities to enhance both the business and customer journey.
Encouraging employee conversations can help those managing them to find the best ideas within the crowd and put them into action faster. Whether this be sharing those ideas with the most relevant in-house experts or simply suggesting them to other senior team members, taking one great idea forward might just have the potential to kickstart innovation across an entire business.
Connect employees and decision-makers
Due to travel and lack of time, it is often very difficult for the decision-makers leading large businesses to maintain a personal connection with their frontline employees. However, new technologies are now making it easy for business leaders to listen to employees and better understand their thoughts on the business.
By making the idea sharing experience both quick and accessible for everyone in the business, technology is able help keep senior team members in touch with the daily endeavours and challenges in all corners of the business and ensure they are more visible to their employees on the ground.
Driving employee engagement can be tough, particularly within large businesses with disparate workforces. However, with the right tools in place and a willingness to give staff the encouragement they need to share their ideas with others, decision-makers can unlock the true power of their employees and use their ideas to help build a better business.
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