Driving COVID-19 employee engagement with idea management

Sarah Williams Blog

Communication and engagement with employees are an essential part of business at any time. The benefits of an engaged workforce include improved employee retention and loyalty, a happier and more motivated workforce and better general well-being. Most observers feel that employee engagement is a key pillar of the future of work.

Perceptions of what exactly is meant by ‘the future of work’ can vary, but what is in little doubt is that the workplace is changing. There is much more focus now on collaboration, structures are flatter and businesses are looking to be innovative, agile and dynamic as they find their place in the modern world.

The current coronavirus pandemic has not necessarily changed any of that, but it has changed the nature of how many of us are currently working. People all over the world are working from home, which poses several interesting questions about employee engagement and collaboration during this period, how organisations continue their future of work progress and the vital role that idea management tools such as Idea Spotlight can play.

Wazoku’s UK employee engagement research

We wanted to dig a little deeper into these issues and so recently (April 2020) commissioned research into how companies are approaching employee engagement during the coronavirus crisis. In what is an unprecedented period for us all, the results show that many UK organisations are doing a job of keeping employees engaged during this time.

86% of our research respondents say their organisation has provided enough technical information for them to work from home effectively, 70% say their employer has taken steps to ensure their mental health and well-being is addressed and 72% say they have been consulted about how best they can all approach home working during the crisis.

This is highly encouraging. The technical side of working from home is relatively easy, but getting the communication and engagement right is much harder. Some people live on their own, so communication with colleagues is taking on a much more human importance than it might do during ‘normal’ times.

Collaboration throughout the crisis

At all stages of the coronavirus crisis, there have been examples of collaboration at a local, national and international level. Communities coming together to pool thoughts, ideas and innovation will be critical to coming through the pandemic and it is also true that organisations have never needed to look at collaboration and co-creation as much as they do right now.

Many businesses have needed to pivot urgently to maintain cash-flow and to try and ensure that they have a future. New products and services have been thought of and launched more rapidly than ever, and our research showed that 61% of respondents have been involved in this idea gathering process.

This makes a lot of sense. Who is be better placed to understand whether a pivot is viable or not than the people who work for an organisation and spend their time talking with customers?

Zoom won’t save your business

By engaging with employees in this way, not only does an organisation collate and move forward the great ideas they have, it also involves them in the future direction of the company and makes people feel that their input is valued and prioritised. But employees need the right platform or tools for effective co-creation and ideation.

Zoom is an excellent communications platform and one that we use at Wazoku. But it doesn’t facilitate collaboration and the discussion of ideas in the same way that idea management tools do. In short – it won’t save your business.

But idea management might. While Idea Spotlight has always been a versatile tool, used for many different purposes, it has proved highly effective for employee engagement during this pandemic. More than half of Wazoku’s customers have been using it for this purpose during the crisis and reported some powerful results.

Lots of customers are running COVID-19 challenges which include many focused on the human needs throughout the pandemic and mental health challenges. It’s been less about ideas and more focused on open discussions as to how employees can support each other. It has also proved highly useful in providing a platform for those discussions on new products and services.

Co-creation and Idea Spotlight

The coronavirus is challenging us all in ways in which we have rarely encountered before. 80% of our research respondents believe the coronavirus crisis is the biggest challenge they have known in their working life and the long-term impact on health, well-being and the economy is a long way from being revealed.

But co-creation will continue to be important as we emerge from the pandemic. Our research revealed that the areas of business most affected by people working from home were internal collaboration around ideas (28%) and external collaboration around ideas (23%). Finding ways of ensuring these do not become bigger problems will be a priority.

Idea Spotlight is proving to be once such way. It’s a powerful tool for employee engagement and a proven solution for the gathering, discussion and development of ideas and innovation.