Why You Should Be Encouraging Employee Led Innovation

13th July 2020

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished” – Benjamin Franklin.

As our business cycle rapidly accelerates and we look toward an uncertain post-pandemic era, now – more the ever – it is essential that organisations continue to evolve and embrace innovation.

As lockdown eases and we move from response to recovery, Gartner recommends that organisations take this opportunity to take stock of the lessons learned from Covid-19 and apply them to reconfigure their business and operating models for this new business landscape.[1]

The past few months have highlighted the importance of resilience, adaptivity and innovation in the face of threat.[2] Companies need to accept that what used to work may now have no place in the new business landscape in front of them. Even without the impetus of a crisis, organisations should not ignore the need for innovation.

Improve your overall business resilience

Aversion to change or a reluctance to innovate leaves organisations exposed to the risk of standing still and being left behind.

Organisations often have no desire to tamper with their core model and will only do so when it is visibly under threat, however, by that stage it may already be too late for them to up their game, which is why they should be proactive in their approach and continually re-evaluate their position.

By failing to meet new needs or understand changing expectations, both internally and externally, the organisation leaves opportunities on the table for disruptors to take advantage of or possibly risk losing their top talent.

To keep their competitive edge, stay relevant, attract the best candidates and retain staff, organisations must embrace change and foster a company culture of innovation.

According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 80% of executives considered their existing business model to be at risk, while 84% agreed that innovation is important to a growth strategy.[3]

Widen your innovation talent pool

“In reality, the world changes every second, blowing new opportunities in all directions, including yours,” Ken Hakuta.

When it comes to innovation there are no proven steps for success; however, organisations can put in place certain measures to help spark it and encourage it from within.

To create the right environment in which innovation can thrive, organisations need to treat it as a company-wide endeavour that includes voices from all levels.[4]

If you rely on one small portion of your workforce or a single team for creativity and innovation you are missing out on whole swathe of creative talent.

Your people are your greatest asset and they are a rich source of suggestions.

Organisations should adopt the ideology that innovation is everyone’s job.[5]

Introducing collaborative technologies and formal programmes can help facilitate innovation by connecting colleagues across the organisation and ensuring that suggestions are addressed in a timely manner.

A platform like Trickle can give your people a voice when they want or need to address something, which means they can highlight areas of innovation much more quickly.

Often, ideas and suggestions flounder before they even get out the gate and the organisation can be its own worst enemy when it comes to fostering innovation. A lack of collaboration and numerous barriers to the talent pipeline are sure-fire ways of stifling innovation.

Tips to inspire employee led innovation

  • Listen to your people, be receptive to suggestions and always offer constructive feedback
  • Include voices from all levels of your operation 
  • Remove barriers that stifle creativity and hinder ideas from moving forward 
  • Facilitate employee collaboration in a streamlined and structured way

It is the responsibility of the organisation to remove barriers and put in place structures that organise and promote innovation. But the first, and most important, step is to create an optimistic, psychologically safe environment, where people at all levels of the organisation feel they can confidently put forward suggestions.[6]

Innovation can only succeed if there is an environment that is conducive to encouraging creativity.

Leaders need to listen and be receptive to suggestions and should give proper constructive feedback to ideas and not simply dismiss them without explanation.

If suggestions are ignored or promises are not taken forward, employees will quickly become disengaged and less motivated to offer their input as they will believe their opinion is not valued. So, while not all ideas will be implemented it is essential that you offer feedback on them.

Trickle’s metrics dashboard will help you quickly assess which ideas and suggestions are most important to your people across the organisation at that moment. With Trickle’s insights you will be better able to take informed actions moving forward.

By enabling your people to have an impact on the organisation via employee led innovation they are likely to have a stronger level engagement and sense of purpose in their role. In addition, they could become more invested in the organisation, which they have helped to shape.

To truly create an innovative environment leadership has to buy into its company culture and lead by example.

A culture is not merely a list of values on paper: if leadership does not embody and champion these values then employees will not either, nor will their employees trust them enough to open up with their suggestions.

Build innovation into your company culture

Now, more than ever, with the economic outlook looking bleak organisations would be wise to focus on encouraging innovation to ensure that they stay current, viable and adaptive to the new business landscape that lies ahead.

Using a multifunctional collaborative tool like Trickle, organisations can support and facilitate a number of initiatives that encourage both employee led innovation and employee engagement all in one place.

For example, to build an innovative ecosystem requires programmes and activities to reinforce the desired behaviours and it needs constant monitoring and championing from the top, with its streamlined tools Trickle can help leaders to do this.

Operating in real-time, Trickle helps organisations achieve measured goals and assess the effectiveness of actioned innovations while providing leadership with a “finger on the pulse” across the organisation.

If you’d like to learn more about how Trickle can benefit your organisation or to request a demo of Trickle’s employee engagement, wellbeing, recognition tools please get in touch with us for more information.

 

[1] https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/reset-your-business-strategy-in-covid-19-recovery/

[2] Trickle White Paper, How to Improve Business Resilience in The Face of a Threat https://trickle.works/resources/white-papers/

[3] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/how-we-help-clients/growth-and-innovation#

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2015/07/27/the-5-types-of-innovation-for-the-future-of-work-pt-1-employee-innovation/#466604167e20

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2015/07/27/the-5-types-of-innovation-for-the-future-of-work-pt-1-employee-innovation/#36c861dc7e20

[6] https://trickle.works/blog/the-importance-of-psychological-safety-in-the-workplace/

 

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