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Innovation Management

Practical Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Published By Guest Blogger

Editor’s note: Last month, Maggie Riad, VP of Innovation Strategy at Planview IdeaPlace, held a webinar: ‘10 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement in your Innovation Program’. This article is a continuation of this webinar, which you can watch on-demand, where Maggie answers several questions that came up but didn’t have a chance to answer.

Q: How do we make it easier for employees to understand how their engagement affects our innovation program?

MR: This may take some time to develop within the company culture.  We find that organizations that are committed to acting on ideas submitted through their crowdsourced innovation program see the best results and steady increases in employee engagement – as long as the results are communicated.

Q: How specific should innovation challenges be to get a high level of engagement?

MR: I generally recommend trying to narrow the scope to a specific area, so the ideas generated are comparable. For example, instead of asking “how can we increase revenue or grow our business?”, I find it more useful to add a phrase specifying the customer segment (millennials, new customers, etc.), life cycle element (renewals, account set-up, etc.) or any other business aspect (using social media, exploring adjacent markets, etc.). Here are some sample challenge questions that demonstrate a good scoping level:

  • How might we increase revenue from our high value customers with our existing technologies?
  • How can we develop a world class customer experience when onboarding new customers?
  • Help us revolutionize the entire billing and payment life cycle for our existing customers?
  • What can we do to deliver a better online customer experience to drive online sales?
  • How might we use social media to increase engagement with more millennial consumers?

Q: How can employee engagement be measured?

MR: Engagement can be measured in several ways, here are some of the typical metrics we recommend.

For a specific challenge:

  • Number of unique log-ins as a percent of total individuals invited
  • Number of active participants (posted an idea or comment or voted) as a percent of unique log-ins
  • Number of ideas per active participants
  • Number of comments per active participants and per idea
  • Number of repeat visitors

Over time for multiple challenges:

  • See how the above metrics grow/increase
  • Number of total unique log-ins as a percent of total employee base

Q: How can you you promote challenges internally to maximize engagement?

MR: There are many ways to promote challenges internally and we typically suggest using a variety to appeal to different people.  What is important to consider is who you are trying to engage and what are the best means of communicating with them – for example, if your goal is to engage production line workers in a warehouse then posters in the lunchroom or physical leaflets may be more effective than email.

In an office environment, a frequently used – and very effective – tactic is an email from a chief officer with the challenge site URL and details on why participation is important.

Here are some other options to consider:

  • Desk Drops
  • Middle manager speaking points for local team meetings
  • Agenda item on quarterly communication meeting or town hall
  • TV monitors with videos

Q: Who would you recommend getting onboard internally to get crowdsourced innovation started at my company?

MR: We see the best success when the sponsorship is in the C-suite and they drive alignment and results.  Most companies establish a center of excellence in either the marketing, technology or strategy group that provides crowdsourcing as a service to all other business teams.

Q: What are some practical ways to recognize employees for their contributions?

MR: I would suggest using:

Random drawings based on desired behaviors, such as:

  • Anyone who submits an idea during the challenge will receive an entry
  • Anyone who posts a comment during the collaboration phase will be entered into a drawing

Team awards, such as:

  • All the participants in the idea with the most diverse collaboration across business units or geographies
  • The business team with the highest participation

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