Direct Line Group

How Direct Line Group generated more than £3.25 million in savings through idea management

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Direct Line Group is an organisation with a clear mission: to make insurance much easier and better value for customers. As one of the leading motor, home and commercial insurers in the UK, both customer and employee experience continues to be a top priority for the organisation.


in savings generated by engaging over 11,000 employees and capturing over 6,000 ideas


awarded to successful idea creators with a further £26,000 donated to charity


of the 2018 Engage Awards, ‘Best Use of Innovation in Employee Engagement’

“We’ve created a culture which rewards people for challenging ideas and thinking differently, as well as delivering results. As a result, our fantastic colleagues feel empowered to challenge our process and Idea Lab ensures that their ideas are heard and implemented. This helps us as a business deliver for our customers, making insurance much easier and better value.”

Simon Linares
HR Director, Direct Line Group

The background: the need to streamline the innovation process

To provide an avenue for employees to share ideas, whether around cost-savings, customer or employee experience, and truly be heard, Direct Line Group needed an idea management platform where staff could collaborate on ideas anywhere and anytime.

Direct Line Group implemented Wazoku’s idea management platform, which they branded Idea Lab, in October 2015 and received 2,000 submissions within the first few months of launch.

Idea Lab is the brainchild of a group of employees who had been tasked with changing the way their colleagues perceived ‘cost’ in the business. Since launching, Idea Lab has gone from strength to strength with 103 ideas implemented to date, with the implementation rate doubling in the last 12 months.

The solution: a platform and process that quickly proved itself

After such a phenomenal start, the Idea Lab team were committed to taking their idea management programme to the next level. They looked within at their idea ambassadors and to the Wazoku customer success team to fine-tune and enhance an already successful process, including the need to:

  • Make their processes more robust
  • Increase the number of ideas that could be implemented
  • Ensure everyone understood the organisation’s strategic objectives so ideas could easily align
  • Develop a real identity which inspired and empowered people to challenge their thinking

Through learning from their experiences, reviewing their processes and taking stock of their success, Direct Line Group set out on a quest to get the business to #thinkdifferently.

Inspiring people to #thinkdifferently

Direct Line Group rebranded Idea Lab, including the company intranet and internal communications, embedding the #thinkdifferently message. They shifted the focus from reward to recognition, driving culture, idea ambassadors and a personalised approach to feedback.

  • The Idea Lab team engaged their top idea creators by facilitating a workshop to create a ‘wish-list’ of best practice for next-generation idea creators
  • Senior executives shifted from being bystanders to active sponsors of ideas and recognising Idea Lab as an integral part of the company culture

The Idea Lab team worked closely with Wazoku to optimise the process for capturing, evaluating and developing employee ideas.

This included simplifying the idea submission form to gather more relevant information from the outset and removing mandatory development forms, then requesting more detail when stakeholders felt it was needed.

Direct Line Group introduced two new challenges, aligned to their strategic priorities, encouraging submissions that mattered most to the business; including, “making things easier for our customers,” aimed at putting the customer at the heart of the organisation and encouraging employees to fuel the company.

Outcomes & Success

Measuring and celebrating success is key to building a culture of innovation. Since optimising their idea management scheme with Wazoku and encouraging their employees to #thinkdifferently, Direct Line Group doubled the amount of new registrations on the previous six months, as well as the total number of implemented ideas.

Beyond Idea Lab’s continuous challenges, the team encouraged a further three departments to use the Wazoku platform to run successful, local-level challenges.

The phenomenal success in rebranding Idea Lab resulted in winning, ‘Best Use of Innovation in Employee Engagement’ at the Engage Awards 2018 and being runners-up in the ideasUK Awards, ‘People and Organisation’ category.

Idea Lab has generated more than £3.25 million in savings since launching in October 2015 and paid out over £138,000 to idea creators who have suggested cost-saving ideas.

What makes this programme unique?

Putting People at the Heart of Idea Lab: The Idea Lab team continue to develop their scheme in tandem with their people, continuously capturing feedback from all levels to shape the future of Idea Lab.

Recognising Success: As well as publicly sharing the stories of the people who’ve taken an idea through Idea Lab, the team award 5% of the first year’s savings to the idea creator and make a donation to the charity of their choice.

Idea Lab Ambassadors: To celebrate the achievements of the top idea creators, Direct Line Group hosted a lunch with their Chief Exec and Senior Sponsors, where they formally became ambassadors who help spread the word and support the next generation of colleagues.

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