4 ways crowdsourcing ideas from employees can give your organization an innovative edge

True innovation comes from the effort of an entire organization. Crowdsourcing internal insight will help get you there.                                             

Carter Liebscher|
July 16, 2020

From the C-suite to the frontlines, employee insight will help your organization differentiate itself from competitors.

A majority of your employees are probably still working from home. A number of them might want it to stay that way, even after your doors reopen.

As a result, you might think that your org should throttle its innovation efforts, the lack of in-person interaction barring making real strides.

However, your employees are plugged in day in, day out. Now is the best time to tap into their individual insight—insight they’ve gathered from their role, their education, and from their personal lives. Many major players have recognized the innovative potential of remote employees.

Cloud software company Salesforce has been conducting global, bi-weekly research on the new working environment caused by COVID-19. Some of the company’s findings are self-evident, including an uptick in video conferencing, whereas other data points are surprising: 35% of respondents said they’ve worked later than usual, 32% stated they’ve started earlier than usual, and 31% have tried new pieces of software and other tech for the first time.

It seems that the novelty of WFH hasn’t entirely worn off yet—or, at the very least, that employees have grown more accustomed to their home working space. Because a greater sense of control over their immediate and technological environment, as Forrester found, employees seem to be inspired to try some new things out for their own personal development—and for their employer’s development.

Whether your organization promoted or discouraged remote working before the pandemic, it’s helping employees become engaged and start thinking creatively. As such, now is the perfect time to put innovation at the forefront of your organizational goals. Introducing a fully digital employee crowdsourcing mechanism in your innovation efforts can give your company a competitive edge, an especially important trait in a time where companies are trying everything to retain customers.

Here are 4 ways digitally crowdsourcing employee insight on any organizational touchpoint—such as being racially aware and inclusive, as OODA Health is doing—to retain an innovative edge.

Each of your organization’s departments have, of course, different strengths and thus different responsibilities. As such, every department has unique insight into how your organization fares when compared your competitors.

Leaders who share relevant competitor info with each department will sow competitive thinking amongst your employees, whose work directly impacts your organization’s industry standing. Posing a department-specific challenge on an industry-wide concept, or vice versa, will quickly help create a consistent plan of action that employees feel they had a hand in developing.

The biggest barrier to first building a Culture of Innovation at your organization is allowing the time and space for employees to share their thoughts. Considering that organizations that allow employees to share their thoughts experience higher retention and engagement rates, it’s imperative that you ensure employees that they can share their thoughts without fear of punishment.

More than allowing employees to share workplace concerns, though, a mechanism that allows them to act on and share their creativity will foster a lasting culture of sharing that will positively impact your company internally and externally.

Just as your employees in different departments have particular insight, so too do your employees of varying roles, titles, and length of employment.

Newly hired employees are likely to be engaged right out of the gate, as the onboarding process and company culture learning curve require them to be attentive.

However, as time goes by, employees’ engagement rates tend to drop. Prior to the pandemic, research from Gartner showed that 26.6% of the global workforce was actively looking for a new job, often the result of a lack of career development opportunities with their current employer.

When employees, both new hires and veterans, are given a voice, they will feel that their leaders are listening and keeping an eye on who has potential.

Company culture impacts your employees in myriad ways, from productivity and output to, as previously mentioned, employee retention.

When employees are all on the same page on organization-wide efforts and department-specific projects, they’ll feel more ownership over their work.

An organization with employees with stakes in their employer will create and solidify a positive company culture—a vaulted characteristic that your competitors may be lacking.

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