IDEASCALE BLOG

Tag: employee engagement

Nine Actions You Can Take Today to Make Your Company More Innovative

Innovation strategy is often about direction and momentum. But in order to have either, you need at least a small amount of mass to get started. And as we all know, whether it’s a boulder or a bureaucracy, inertia keeps objects at rest from moving. So how do you get up some speed? Try these methods.

  1. Focus on small innovations. Big innovations often grow not out of big ideas, but a thousand little ones that come together at the just the right moment. What’s a little problem you can solve that makes either life at your company or life for your customers just a little easier?                                                                                                   
  2. Keep the focus on your core business. Think of the Swiss Army Knife. Yes, you can get truly ridiculous variations with a hundred tools. But how many of those tools will you use? And how many of them are genuinely useful? One useful “boring” feature that supports your core business is worth a million useless flashy ones.
  3. Embrace failure. Much of science is literally failing, learning from that failure, and failing again until you succeed. For every brilliant work of art, there’s an embarrassment a genius burned in the fireplace. If people fail and don’t get in trouble, it’ll embolden them to keep trying.
  4. Go where your employees are. Visit their departments and workspaces to talk with them. Sometimes a roadblock to innovation, or a better way to understand the innovation they’re proposing if you can’t quite see the value, is literally right there in their space.
  5. For each innovation or approach, appoint a leader, a stakeholder who understands the issues well and can make calls quickly. Also, ensure this leader can get every group of stakeholders on the same page.
  6. Have leaders create a small team with a short deadline to solve a problem. Time pressure helps people think, and small teams don’t get bogged down in getting approval and consent from everyone.
  7. Make your trust and respect clear, and make that a policy for everyone in a leadership role. People don’t speak up because they’re afraid of being wrong. Make it clear it’s OK to make a mistake, and with smaller innovations, and thus smaller stakes, it’s more important that they learn something useful. And similarly, don’t hesitate to step in to protect a good idea.
  8. Don’t imitate your competitors, but understand why they present the innovations they do. Is an odd new feature they’re proposing some sort of brilliant innovation, driven by data? Is it a prelude to shifting to another segment of your industry, or even out of your industry altogether? Or is it a wild swing in the dark based on a hunch?
  9. Keep one eye on the deck and one eye on the horizon. One of the most powerful tools human beings have in any organization is the power to work together to achieve goals, but that means every one of us has a small bit of work to do, and we can focus on that work to the exclusion of all else. So take a breath and look up towards your ultimate goal, and make sure the rest of your team does the same.

To learn more about innovation strategy and innovation management, join our newsletter.

Why Should You Conduct a Supervisor Evaluation Survey?

Supervisor Evaluation SurveyEvaluation and feedback are important factors that contribute towards an employee’s overall growth in an organization. Every employee intends to work harder with each passing day and deliver the best possible results. Employee evaluation is a usual process in a startup as well as a multinational organization. Gone are the days where yearly reviews used to be a top-down approach. These days, most organizations prefer conducting a 360 degree evaluation survey.

Supervisor evaluation is a part of the 360 degree evaluation. Each supervisor would have rated their team members as a part of employee evaluation, but how many of them are rated for their performances? For an elevated progress, an organization would aim at a 360 growth and this includes supervisor evaluation at regular time intervals as well. A supervisor evaluation survey is conducted to understand employee perspectives about questions such as “Does the supervisor recognize your achievements?” or “What is the extent of guidance provided by the supervisor?” or “Is the supervisor’s behavior fair to you and your co-workers?” etc.

It can definitely be a little confusion around the reason of conducting a supervisor research. Surveys, online or offline, are one of the most productive data-collection sources. Online surveys, especially, are tools that gather real-time insights by maintaining anonymity of the respondents which makes them a suitable source to conduct supervisor evaluation.

Here are 3 reasons to conduct an effective supervisor evaluation survey:

  • Employees provide empirical information about their supervisors:

Every employee would know the best about their supervisors. Details about a supervisor’s management skills, team motivation to maximize productivity and other such factors. For a supervisor to produce effective results year-on-year, it is important for them to productively work towards improving their managerial skills for the team.

  • Honest responses help a supervisor in growing:

Every individual aspires to progress in their career. Feedbacks and opinions boost an employee’s growth. Supervisors can learn how their team member perceive their efforts and what is the scope for improvement. Honest feedback allows supervisors to progress and be better at what they do!

  • Cultivate a progressive work culture:

An organization’s culture depicts its work and productivity. By conducting a supervisor evaluation survey, the organization can enhance their work culture. A transparent work culture where supervisors work on the feedback provided by employees, will progress by leaps and bounds.

Transparent and constructive opinions about supervisor’s work ethic, bias within team members, how they handle pressures at work, punctuality etc. can be helpful for the betterment of the supervisor’s productivity.

3 important steps to follow while conducting a supervisor evaluation survey:

  1. Step 1: Use one of the survey templates offered by survey softwares such as QuestionPro and customize the questions according to the required supervisor information.
  2. Step 2: Decide the aspects which need to be evaluated, for instance, work ethic, punctuality, job delivery, fairness of work etc. Questions to gain information about such factors can be included.
  3. Step 3: The organization must make the rules and guidelines of the survey very clear to the employees in order to avoid an inappropriate work environment.

Make Employee Engagement Part of Your Innovation Strategy

Innovation starts with teamwork.

Core to any organization is the people that join it. This is as true of the workplace as anywhere else: Who works for your company often defines it. However, a surprising number of employees don’t feel engaged or interested in their workplace. It’s estimated 70% of the workforce is doing little more than punching a clock, and they don’t particularly care who’s looking at that clock. Employee engagement and excitement can make the difference between an industry leader and an also-ran, and often your innovation strategy is the key to exciting your employees.

Respect Is A Two-Way Street

Employees often don’t engage in a workplace because they believe their company thinks of them as disposable cogs and what they do doesn’t matter. From the beginning of history, people have felt that the organizations they labor for don’t care about them. Worse, employees can often feel that nothing they do truly has an impact. They do the work, they file the report, and then get asked to do it all over again with a different set of data, with no sense of what they achieved.

Part of this is purely an institutional problem, and it’s not limited to the workplace. You find these same concerns in schools among children, from voters when their government feels slow or non-reactive, and so on. Anything that is a structure involving a large group of people is going to struggle to feel personal, and similarly, if you have lofty goals, it can be hard to see progress towards them. So it’s a question of finding elements within your structure that give employees more ownership of the process and allow them to see and participate in actual progress. This is where your innovation strategy comes in.

Everyone has ideas worth hearing.

Innovation As Wake-Up Call

An innovation strategy open to your employees offers more of a voice in the direction of the company, by sharing and voting on ideas, and clear progress as an idea advances through the various stages. It can even allow employees to constructively vent frustration by suggesting changes to how your company does things; you might notice a few ideas have something to do with how their jobs get done, and how that might be done better. Employees will feel they have a voice and that they’re getting things done.

Just as important, however, is that you’re tapping into a deeper well of stakeholders and ideas. You can build the most brilliant aircraft in the history of aviation, but if you do the metaphorical equivalent of building it in the basement, it’s not going anywhere. With multiple perspectives and ideas from employees across the organization, your innovation strategy will improve both by anticipating potential issues with ideas before they become expensive to deal with, and by gathering ideas from places outside the usual. Often, it’s the idea from somebody who’s looking at the forest that turns out to be the most valuable.

Innovation strategy, at its best, gives your entire workforce a voice and a way to contribute. Feeling heard, that your opinion matters and is needed, is a powerful thing for people, and innovation strategy will ensure everyone at your company has that feeling. To learn more, request a demo.

The Impact of Stress on Innovation

Impact of Stress on InnovationStress is something that affects all of us at some point in our lives. Although some amount of stress is unavoidable, businesses need to recognize the importance of creating as stress-free a working environment as possible in order to support innovation. After all, a stressed workforce can greatly impact innovation; causing employees to miss work and lack motivation when it comes to devising and implementing new ideas. You need to be able to create a workspace that boosts employee morale and combats signs of stress all of which will actively foster innovation.

How does stress affect employees?

Stress is a normal physical response that we have to events which make us feel threatened, upset or anxious. When our bodies sense any type of real or perceived danger then our ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered and the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are sent surging through our bodies. The end result is a pounding heart, tense muscles, elevated blood pressure and shortness of breath. Can you imagine trying to come up with innovative ideas whilst experiencing all of these symptoms?

When the issues causing these reactions aren’t resolved chronic stress occurs. An increasing epidemic in our modern world, chronic stress has rocked the productivity of workforces over the past few years. In fact, one Natural Green Secrets article revealed that 75-90% of all doctor’s visits are related to conditions caused by stress. Moreover, a separate Health and Safety Executive article highlighted how 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/2017. In order for companies to continue developing innovative ideas, this stress epidemic should not be underestimated.

Solutions for reducing stress within your business

Supporting innovation requires businesses to implement proactive measures that prevent their employees from becoming so stressed in the first place. By doing so you can ensure your workforce feel valued and remain motivated to produce innovative ideas for your organization.

Stress can arise as the result of one major event or the culmination of a series of seemingly insignificant incidents. External causes of stress among employees can include feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities, whilst internal causes of stress can include chronic worry, a feeling of inflexibility in thought processes as well as a repressed anger or resentment towards certain aspects of their work.

Businesses need to recognise the how these underlying feelings can stifle creativity; leaving employees feeling overwhelmed and uninspired. Innovation can never flourish in this environment. One of the main sources stress among a workforce is a seemingly insurmountable workload. When your employees feel that their list of daily tasks is steadily increasing without having access to any additional support it is only inevitable that they will become stressed.

Fortunately there is a solution to these stress triggers. Providing your employees with easy access to helpful resources which improve their work experiences will help them to remain engaged with their company and create innovative ideas. For instance, at IdeaScale we have created a unique idea management platform that utilises crowdsourcing. Through this system your employees can efficiently pose ideas to an engaged community of prospective consumers who vote and comment upon the effectiveness of their ideas. Not only does this platform reduce employee workload but it also grants them the satisfaction of receiving direct feedback on their ideas. This collaborative processes enables your employees to evaluate, improve and hone in on specific ideas which will be best suited for your company.

The end result of idea management platforms on employee stress is impressive. Having access to this centrally managed system permits employees to manage multiple campaigns, measure the impact and outcome of innovation activities, and receive one-to-one training support from experts. This technology enables employees to collaborate on ideas easily; communicating with other departments in a hassle-free manner. Employees can also gather any essential data they need without stress, receive helpful support on areas of interest, and contribute their own ideas via a multimedia platform that is open, receptive and adaptive to their needs.

Seeing your ideas at work can be an incredibly rewarding process, so much so that  studies have shown that actively engaged employees outperform their counterparts by 202%. Equipping your company with such software enables you to foster innovation among your workforce without the stress of miscommunication. As well as reducing the onset of stress, these initiatives actively boost employee morale by giving them a chance to contribute ideas and receive feedback which makes them feel valued as an individual. As a matter of fact, 93% of employees surveyed in a Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study  stated they want to work for a company that cares about them as an individual.

Ultimately, by equipping your employees with helpful resources and additional support, you can help to combat the causes of stress and nurture a working environment that actively encourages and rewards innovation. Recognizing the impact of stress on innovation and tackling it directly enables companies to forge ahead of their competitors and solidify their brand reputation as an organization which cares about the wellbeing of each and every member of its team. If you would like to learn more about the ways in which our idea management platforms can help reduce stress and support innovation then please feel free to contact our IdeaScale team today and to subscribe to our IdeaScale mailing list.

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This is a guest post authored by Amber Tanya, a writer from Kent, England. Miss Tanya has worked as a ghost writer servicing multiple international news and automotive publications. Miss Tanya also holds a First Class Honours degree in English Literature from an esteemed British University. She primarily writes technological, travel and scientific articles but is versatile and enjoys writing across a broad range of other topics. You can contact Miss Tanya at [email protected] Miss Tanya can produce outstanding content upon request and can adapt her writing style to suit the tone of your brand.

3 Reasons Healthcare Needs Idea Management

Healthcare Needs Idea ManagementIt’s hard enough to keep up in a complex industry like healthcare. But just wait till healthcare is disrupted as dramatically as retail or music has been over the past decade.

Clearly the healthcare industry has long been a competitive vertical (on numerous fronts: from patient services to technology and edge disciplines), and its complexity makes it harder to disrupt than others, but there is no denying that the challenges have accelerated. Unity Stoakes, in his What’s Now conversation earlier this Spring painted a persuasive picture of the accelerating forces driving what he sees as an exponential growth curve in the industry.

Much of this impending disruption has the potential to deliver wonderful benefits to individuals, organizations and society at large. In fact, an argument could be made that the more radical the change, the greater the potential benefits…. However, when it comes to managing change at your healthcare organization, how can we all stay on our toes and make the most of these accelerating changes?

At IdeaScale we’re working with a diversity of healthcare organizations from hospital systems to research and development institutions and medical technology companies. While some are working to increase knowledge sharing between traditionally siloed departments, others are focused on saving millions of dollars a year and still others are focused on accelerating product development.

At the core of what they’re all doing is building an idea management processes to ensure they get all hands on deck to stay competitive as the pace of change accelerates, and disruption increases. Here are a few key reasons your health organization wants to do the same:

Attract and retain top talentIf Unity is right about the current tide of talent transforming the healthcare sector (and he makes good arguments about how much increasing VC capital is attracting, then now is the time to make sure your employees are engaged and feel positive about workplace well-being. Attract talent in the next 5 years, don’t lose it.

Transform and deliver faster. Be more agile. The faster you can process new ideas, the more able your organization will be to identify and take advantage of new opportunities. This means you’ll have to be both ruthless towards ideas but generous about failure because testing is the best way to learn.

A well oiled-machine weathers the storm better. Deliver consistent process improvement throughout your organization and that will keep the engine purring no matter what influencing factors are creating change. When engineers design airplanes they take turbulence into account by focusing on the structural integrity of the airplane. If the next decade is bound to be a turbulent one for healthcare, leveraging your whole company to help optimize your processes will help improve operations, reduce errors and improve organizational integrity in a more predictable fashion. 

Learn more about the state of innovation in the healthcare industry in our white paper.

What the U.S. Coast Guard Can Teach Us About Innovation

The Coast Guard has changed the game with innovation.

When we look for inspiration with innovation strategy, we rarely consider organizations outside the corporate world. But it’s not just start-ups and big companies innovating. Organizations of all sorts are developing their employee’s ideas to achieve their mission, and one of the best examples is the United States Coast Guard.

A Tough Job

The Coast Guard is rarely discussed, but it’s got one of the toughest jobs in the military. The Coast Guard has eleven general orders that range from search and rescue to assisting shipping operations. They’re out on the water, every day, working in industrial, criminal justice, and safety applications, and that, as you might guess, means they need all the help they can get.

The Coast Guard’s innovation strategy was to use it to strike a balance between the short-term needs of getting the job done, and the long-term goals of the organization. In the past, the Coast Guard relied on specific leadership to get the innovation job done, but their new strategy turns to their sailors, not just their commanders.

It’s simple, really: The Coast Guard has created a platform where it lays out a challenge, but remains what they call “solution-agnostic.” In other words, they don’t have a specific solution to make it fit. Instead, they ask for solutions and run those solutions by the stakeholders. It’s one thing if a commander likes an idea, but it’s much more powerful if the technicians keeping the boats afloat or the mates who use those boats to do their jobs like an idea.

From there, it drives the Coast Guard’s investment. Nor is it a one-off or a program built around meetings. It’s a rolling collection of challenges that’s going every day of the year, available anytime for anybody in the Coast Guard to weigh in.

The Coast Guard has 11 crucial jobs, and it’s innovating around every single one.

And Someone’s Proud To Do It

What’s attention-getting is how effective this strategy was at leapfrogging what seemed insurmountable boundaries. For example, one of the problems with past innovation was rank. Since the Coast Guard is a military organization, there’s protocol surrounding how, and whether, you speak to someone who outranks you. A boatswain’s mate can’t tell a commander his idea is the dumbest thing he’s ever heard of, no matter how politely he says it.

Secondly, it drew on a specific, shared point of concern across the entire Guard, namely disaster response. Ranking officers and ship crew alike felt that lessons learned from recent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon spill and Hurricane Sandy hadn’t been propagated through the entire Guard, and they were worried about losing civilian lives. So the Guard made sure the veterans of those disasters had a platform to discuss the challenges, explain how they solved them, and not only opened the door to innovating in their organization but teaching. The lessons learned from Sandy have helped with hurricane season this year and will keep lives safe going forward.

The mission of a start-up or a company looking to shake up its industry may not be as urgent as the Coast Guard’s. But there’s a lot you can learn by looking at their innovation strategy. To learn more, join our newsletter.

How Innovation Helps Address Sustainability Challenges

Innovation builds more than just better products.

One of the greatest challenges facing business at the moment is sustainability. Getting the most out of the resources you have access to, reducing the amount of resources you use, and finding more renewable resources are good both for society and your bottom line. But creating something sustainable starts with the core resource of any business: The people you work with. Environmental Resource Management, or ERM, recently showcased this with a brilliant innovation strategy.

Getting It Done

ERM’s corporate mission is deceptively simple on paper: Build better ecological security, reduce waste and cost, and help businesses become more environmentally friendly. They’ve worked with businesses across the world to do everything from finding renewable resources for industries to analyzing supply chains to identify inefficiencies and ecological risks companies hadn’t considered.

Don’t be fooled, though: Sustainability isn’t a matter of recommending you install solar panels and recycle more. What works for one company on the ecological front isn’t effective for another, even within the same industry. As a result, client services and uniting expertise is a challenge for ERM. They decided to draw on their employees.

ERM held its first global innovation tournament in 2015, with the goal of using existing technology to build on their offerings to their clients. The tournament, promoted to employees, had three rounds and built on employee feedback using an innovation platform. Employees could like and comment on ideas, and not just offer their perspective but also use the platform as a library of the company’s expertise.

The results speak for themselves: 69% of ERM’s 5,000 employees weighed in on various ideas, watching the tournament and participating. It both built teamwork, and it sparked ideas across the board. And it underscores an important point.

Innovation yields great rewards.

Tapping The Human Resource

ERM knew that there’s nobody who knows your company like your employees, and they used it to their advantage. Employees are bursting with ideas and new approaches to challenges in the field, but it’s difficult to create a platform that lets them share that expertise across the board. How often has the solution to a seemingly thorny problem been solved with a simple email to somebody who’s dealt with it before? Institutional knowledge is incredibly useful, but it doesn’t spread quickly unless you find a way to let it spread.

That was the key advantage of ERM’s innovation strategy. They based it on the concrete, asking for new approaches to technology and processes the company already used. Instead of having to ask around and find somebody to email, employees could share their expertise to a much broader context. In a way, the tournament was almost beside the point, although it certainly offered a great incentive to jump in and comment.

Especially with sustainability, it’s important to draw on institutional knowledge. The key to sustainability is often not building new technology, but better understanding and refining the technology and services you have. ERM used this technique to tap into and spread their institutional knowledge. How will you use innovation strategy to bolster your employees? For tips on how, contact us.

Is Your Innovation Program Changing Employee Sentiment?

Employee SentimentMany people launch an innovation community as a way of improving their employee engagement scores. But how do you know if you’re moving in the right direction? Many IdeaScale customers are interested in gathering sentiment analysis. This is actually possible directly within IdeaScale using the survey tool, which can pose questions to every member of the community, but before you do that, you might want to think about what it is that you want to measure in order to find out how people truly feel about your innovation program. Here are a few things to consider:

Set a Baseline. This means that you’ll have to wait to find out how you really did on the test. You need at least two data points in order to chart progress. Even if you’ve already launched a community, measure their responses now and again in three to six months. So get started now and set up a regular reminder for the future.

Figure Out How You Want to Measure. Is it NPS? A 5-star satisfaction scale? Pass/Fail? Determine your metric to know how you’re doing and use the same measure each time you reach out to measure innovation sentiment.

Know Your Audience. It’s all very important to know who you’re talking to. If you’re reaching out for feedback using the IdeaScale built-in survey tool, you can even target particular groups within your community, but it’s good to know who they are (old employees vs. new employees, men or women, how are they using the software in the first place).

Get Beyond Your Own Sense of Value. Yes, of course you get value by accessing and combining people’s ideas, but what value are you providing to your community? Is it the intrinsic joy of connecting or is it that they’ve seen a lot of organizational change since they joined the community? What is it that your community comes to your innovation program for?

Learn more about measuring innovation sentiment, by downloading our complimentary infographic on the subject.

Overcoming the Barriers to Innovation in Healthcare

Overcoming the Barriers to Innovation in HealthcareOf all the industries poised to improve with innovation, none are more promising than healthcare. However, many organizations struggle to move forward due to a lack of strategy and a lack of employee and leadership buy-in. Here are jut a few ways to address those issues as you work on overcoming the barriers to innovation in healthcare:

Establish a Strategy

This first step is perhaps the most difficult, but also the most valuable. Establishing a strategy means setting expectations, defining metrics, assigning responsibility (if everyone’s responsible, no one’s responsible), defining a process, and more. It also means familiarizing yourself with the regulations and rules when it comes to new ideas. It’s also not a bad time to revisit values and mission so that you can align the problems that you want to solve and the solutions that you find to your overall organizational goals. With established goals in place and a defined strategy for innovation, your healthcare group will be in a far better position to curate ideas, evaluate those ideas, develop them further and allow them to flourish.

Make Innovation a Shared Responsibility

Innovation shouldn’t be the realm of the elite – don’t be trapped by your own department or even your own industry: look everywhere for new ideas. Also look for ideas that are already successful in other parts of the business and see if they can’t be rolled out elsewhere. If everyone is in charge of finding and sharing great ideas- the likelihood of you finding them is far greater. But if innovation is everyone’s responsibility then you need to honor that commitment by setting aside some budget for implementing new ideas and designating a point person who can steward all those new ideas through to success.

Deliver on Ideas Across Multiple Horizons

Not every idea is transformative. Some save a few minutes on the hospital floor, some create a slightly improved patient experience and you should pay attention to those ideas, as well. The worst thing that you can do is ignore ideas. So get started on those easy-to-implement, quick wins right away to build credibility and traction. You’ll find that when you start working on those transformative concepts that you’ll have marshalled far more resources to your side.

Continue to Improve

The barriers to get started on a crowdsourced innovation program are actually quite low. But you’ll learn a lot just by starting a program. Don’t be afraid to change, update, and improve. In fact, you must. Innovation is an agile process. You’ll learn a lot along the way. So change your goals, shift your process, update your communications strategy, invite new people to participate, re-launch and always find new ways to make a difference.

To learn more about innovation in the healthcare sector, download our white paper on the subject. 

 

5 Signs You Need an Idea Management Solution

Signs You Need an Idea Management SolutionNot everyone knows the opportunities associated with idea management software, so sometimes it’s hard to make a case to adopt it at your company. But here are a few of the signs that you’re ready for an idea management solution:

  1. You’re Falling Behind the Competition. Other key players (or new kids on the block) are coming up with far superior, new products and services and they’re doing it faster than you are. An idea management solution not only give you new ideas, it allows you to help those ideas move along faster. Many of our customers are able to cut idea development time in half once they have an idea management solution in place.
  2. You Don’t Have Enough New Ideas. Actually, most organizations DO have enough great ideas, but they just don’t have a way to access, organize, and aggregate them. An idea management solution will show you just how healthy your organization is (or isn’t) when it comes to new ideas.
  3. You Don’t Have Time for New Ideas. Lots of our customers come to us, because they want to maximize resources. An idea management solution allows them to distribute responsibility for idea implementation- not only can anyone anywhere suggest an idea, they can take it and run with it. The only bottle neck then becomes decision making, so ensure that you have a smart, but rapid decision making strategy in place in order to meet this expectation.
  4. You Have a Difficult Time Making a Business Case for New Ideas. How many good ideas die, because leadership doesn’t see the value? A crowdsourced idea management solution gives you multiple ways to prove the value of an idea: its popularity, its value or costs, its market validation, and more. And it does it all with transparency. Hard to argue that.
  5. Your Employees Aren’t Engaged. What? I thought we were talking about ideas here. Well, getting your employees involved in positive change at your organization is one of the best ways to get them invested and re-invigorated. If people are leaving your company, if they’re not excited and using their problem solving skills, then it’s time to give them a way to share their ideas on how to make their workplace even better. Just remember that implementation is a key to success here. You have to be ready to make change (even if they’re just small changes to get started).

To see how idea management works in action, sign up for a demo of our software.