As a newbie to ideation and employee engagement, I was lucky to be able to attend a recent Internal Communications conference featuring speakers from MetLife, ITV, GSK, Arriva and many more. This was a great opportunity to hear a few specialists in this area speak about their first-hand experiences, concerns and gave me the chance to learn a few useful things:
- Corporate is not corporate anymore
Unlocking employee engagement, fostering social collaboration and innovating through employees requires much needed behavioural changes from ALL levels of a company, whether it’s the CIO or front line staff. It is vital to capture information from all employee levels and this cultural shift needs to start with the leaders themselves. For example: Nicole Dempster (Internal Communications Director at ITV) mentioned re-designing a meeting room to look like a set from an ITV show, the purpose being that an employee’s environment should reflect the employee’s role, to maximise engagement.
On a similar vein, Nickelodeon often have “Bring Your Children To Work” day and allows children to set questions for new candidate interviews – alongside an evolution in technology, so have the methods in which organisations engage with employees. The new “corporate” is no longer the “corporate” as we once knew it.
- You have to embrace new technologies
Embracing new technologies can be a difficult challenge but it can add huge value to an organisation when done right. Cultivating a culture of innovation and avoiding traps such as complex workflows, administrative overload and lost ideas can be solved using technological tools/solutions. Rolls Royce, for example, have much of their workforce (40%) on the shop floor. They have had a silo mentality for a long time but have recently deployed an innovation portal which can be accessed via any device (mobile, tablet, laptop and or PC). The portal allows Rolls Royce to set business challenges and employees use their smartphones, laptops or tablets to submit ideas to solve these through a social collaboration methodology. Socialising through the portal using “like”, “follow” and “comment” capabilities engages employees. Rolls Royce have noticed a 30% uptake on employee engagement and more importantly, according to Clare Clark (Head of Channels & Content, Internal Communication) out of the 50% of ideas generated, 90% were implemented. ROI at its best!
- Employee Satisfaction
Employees often feel they are not recognised for their commitment and efforts, preventing them from buying into corporate strategy. Leveraging brand ambassadors and innovation champions allow organisations to build trust between employees and organisation, to ultimately bring business strategies to life. Richard Davies (Employee Engagement Project Manager for Crossrail Ltd) specifically cited collaboration as a core value for Crossrail Ltd. They set very high standards for employee satisfaction and once a year surveys are conducted to understand satisfaction levels, after which any concerns raised are then addressed.
In conclusion, organisations need to engage employees because they are the driving force of a business. It is time to empower them to generate ideas, work and trust them to become innovation champions as well as recognise them for their loyalty. Howard Krais (Communications Director for GSK) summed it up really well when he said “do the basics well, become more audience-centric”.
If you would like to learn more on how idea management can help improve employee engagement in organisations, check out our guide “Beginner’s Guide to Idea Management“.