Tag Archives: employee engagement

How to Conquer Distance with Collaboration

WAPOLLong distance relationships are never easy. This is especially true of large-scale organizations which are housed in multiple and varied locations. Sometimes differing locations will have differing needs but more often they have similar struggles. Like the Western Australia Police.

The Western Australia Police recently began using IdeaScale as a method of conquering that distance; namely a distance that covers over 2.5 million square kilometers, including 11 districts and 197 police stations in both urban and rural areas. As a result of their Frontline 2020 initiative, the WAP feels more connected and collaborative than ever. The kilometers between are hardly noticeable with the centralized digital meeting spot to recommend better ways of working, solutions to problems, and collaborate with fellows—regardless of physical location. It also allows workers the opportunity to note the similarities amongst themselves, to realize that they are not as isolated as they might physically feel sometimes.

As Deputy Commissioner Steven Brown relayed, one of the best outcomes of Frontline 2020 has been the ability for all members of their workforce to have one central location to identify “the things that make it hard for them to get their jobs done,” things which the Deputy Commissioner says are often easy to fix once they are known. In essence, the program allows for everyone in the community to feel heard and respected in the process. Moreover, the WAP emphasizes their appreciation for the participation of their workforce by responding to every suggestion, and incentivizing with the possibility for small prizes.

In addition to a more engaged, collaborative workforce, the ideas coming from Frontline 2020 have already had a positive impact on the administrative and logistical side as well, saving thousands of hours of work time.

To find out more about the Western Australia Police and Frontline 2020, click here to download the recent case study.

One Weird Thing About Customer Satisfaction

customer satisfactionHere’s one weird thing about customer satisfaction: it may be that your employees have the key to improving it. After all, employees are the people who interact with customers on a day-to-day basis, and are most aware of common concerns amongst customers, as well as improvements that will have the biggest impact. Further, employees have knowledge of the structure and resources of the organization from the inside, so they are better equipped to recommend practical changes.

Banchile Inversiones, a Chilean management company that provides one of the largest mutual funds markets and stock brokerage businesses in the country, has firsthand experience with this phenomenon of employee feedback to improve customer satisfaction. Like many other companies, they had long welcomed employee input through antiquated systems like email and evaluations, but found those systems difficult to scale up. In an effort to continue to gather great ideas, and to ensure that employees felt heard, Banchile started using IdeaScale.

Perhaps their most effective strategy was the extensive planning and design surrounding the implementation of the innovation initiative. Not only did they have a system in place for gathering and evaluating ideas, they also created a comprehensive strategy to stimulate internal engagement. The latter is especially important when you are introducing a completely new feedback system within your company. Banchile had a three-pronged approach: a CEO announcement at annual company meeting; email with a link to the community to every employee; and a method of rewards for involvement.

In addition to this internal marketing approach, the team also responded to every idea that was put forth. Combined, these efforts impressed upon employees an appreciation of their input and incentive to continue to participate.

As a result, Banchile was able to identify five new projects through their first campaign that will help to improve customer satisfaction company-wide.

To read more about how Banchile Inversiones enacted their innovation campaigns, and about the five new projects which were implemented, download our recent case study here.

What’s an Employee’s Role in Innovation?

employee role in innovationLet’s say you are an employer who is looking to encourage innovation of ideas among your employees. What would you imagine would be the result of rejecting some employee ideas?

Well, probably not what you might think. Recent research has shown that when an employee’s idea is rejected by their organization, it actually can drive innovation by motivating them to come back with new ideas.

Although this outcome is the result of a delicate balance; after all, nobody is going to be interested in trying something again at which they’ve not been successful if they feel ridiculed or belittled for trying the first time. Perhaps the most important step is an overarching one: organizations should cultivate a climate that is inviting, safe, and positive for employee innovators. It’s important for employees to know that the result of their idea has no impact on their job, furthering the feeling of a safe environment. For more tactics on crafting an environment of innovation, read our recent white paper on the importance of employee innovation.

Once the right mood has been set for innovation, it will be much easier to encourage employees to participate in the sharing of ideas, even if their initial suggestions are not enacted. The research showed that those whose ideas were rejected tended to persist in an effort to determine the causes of their rejection. This is another place where the organization can step in and assist—examining with employees ideas which were successful, and how those employees might attain that level with their own ideas in the future. Helping to provide the proper support and motivation can make all the difference.

Along these lines, it’s important for organizations to think more about how they will reject ideas. It is essential to respond to ALL ideas. Nobody likes to live in that limbo of not knowing, so even if ideas are not pushed forward, it is best practice to inform everyone of the status of their ideas. It is also imperative to celebrate the effort that employees have made, even if their ideas are not enacted; employees are far more likely to try again if they feel that their first attempts are appreciated. For more tips on how to respond to ideas, watch our Creating a Culture of Innovation webinar.

What are other strategies you can think of to encourage your employees to continue innovating, even if their ideas are not initially accepted for enactment?

Free New Feature Demonstration: IdeaScale Stages

2015-Stages-personasLast week we updated you on our new upcoming feature, IdeaScale Stages. Stages will allow for the further development of ideas beyond the ideation stage. As the name suggests, the feature presents three new stages that will help to see selected ideas through to their implementation: Build a Team, Refine, and Assess.

The stages will help to facilitate the construction of team members around a particular idea, allow for the introduction of improvements to already presented ideas, as well as documentation for those embellishments, and enable evaluation of the viability of the idea from all angles.

Don’t miss our demonstration of Stages, along with a Q&A following the demonstration, on Wednesday, February 25. Find more information and sign up for the free demo here.

Employee Engagement—Better for Employees

Employee Engagement 2Two weeks ago, as part of our focus on employee engagement and a recent white paper from IdeaScale on the City of Atlanta’s experience with the subject, we evaluated reasons why employee engagement is beneficial for employers. This week, we will be taking a closer look at why employee engagement is beneficial for employees.

While this one may seem like a bit of a no-brainer—“employee” is part of the term itself, so it would be fair to assume employees would benefit—there are some less obvious positive results for employees as well. As we mentioned in our previous post, employee unhappiness is a huge problem these days. In addition to the feelings of lack of fulfillment, employees then have to struggle with the choice of continuing in an unhappy environment or moving on and starting over in a new situation.

However, when employees are made to feel engaged, they are more likely to feel fulfilled and invested in the organizations for which they are working. This in turn leads to higher work enjoyment and increases the likelihood of longevity.

Acumen Solutions, an IT consulting company in Virginia, has been working on increasing employee engagement and investing in their employees for a while. Acumen Solutions strives to make the workplace more than just a workplace, focusing on all aspects of employee’s lives. This includes presenting personalized gifts for both professional and personal milestones in employee’s lives, as well as encouraging wellness with challenges against other office locations. Employee engagement begins at the very first day of employment, when new employees are paired with a buddy.

All of these steps help to illustrate to employees that they are valued and that the work they are doing is important and impactful to the organization. This line of engagement and communication also helps to create openness in organizations, contributing to a more social and community-driven environment.

Celebrating work and personal accomplishments and encouraging healthy life-work balance are a great start, but what seems to be missing is an opportunity for employee feedback. Providing an outlet for honest and constructive feedback, suggestions for improvement, and collaboration would further emphasize to employees that their voices and opinions are central to the larger organization.

To learn more about employee engagement and the City of Atlanta’s particular experience with it, click here to download IdeaScale’s recent white paper.

Employee Engagement—Better for Employers

Employee Engagement 1What is the benefit to organizations and employers in making sure their employees are engaged? Sure, it seems clear that there are positive outcomes for employees themselves, but how does that reflect back on the organizations for which they work?

One of the most persistent problems these days is employee discontent. There are scores of articles written about why and how workers are unsatisfied with their positions, attempting to explain why there is often such a high turnover rate of employment. Among the reasons for this is that employees feel undervalued by the organizations for which they work. Using employee engagement, especially by asking for their suggestions and opinions, allows employees to feel a sense of agency in their workplace. When employees have agency, they feel necessary and important to the process, and are understandably more likely to want to stick around.

As a recent IdeaScale white paper expounds, when the rate of turnover is lower, it ultimately saves organizations money in not having to constantly train new employees. In other words, it is in everyone’s best interest that companies keep their staff happy and involved.

For four other key benefits of employee engagement for employers, click here to download the recent white paper about employee engagement and the City of Atlanta.

Stay tuned for our blog post on how employee engagement makes work better for employees on January 20.

Advice about Open Innovation from Greektown-Casino

OIAwards2014IdeaScale is pleased to have completed another year of Open Innovation Awards. This year, we learned a lot about engagement, innovation metrics, and more from our winners and we invited one of our runners up to join us in an interview about their open innovation program: Lori Snetsinger from the Greektown Casino.

Located in the heart of Detroit’s premier entertainment district, the Greektown Casino-Hotel provides best-in-class gaming choices, exceptional accommodations and award-winning restaurants.

In 2014, the Greektown Casino-Hotel launched “The Cheese Factory” whose goal was to make all 1,500 casino team members feel like they were being heard. “The Cheese Factory” was an IdeaScale community where employees could share their great thoughts and ideas and tell ways to make their company better, while also addressing what needs to be fixed, what would make their jobs easier and what would make customers happier.

The casino formed an internal team called “The Mousetrap Team,” whose sole purpose was to serve this initiative.  This team was 100% responsible for moderating all of the ideas that were submitted.

Greektown Casino shares some additional insight here:

IdeaScale: How long have you been utilizing IdeaScale?
Greektown Casino: We received our first piece of “cheese” on May 16, 2014.

IS: Why is innovation vital to your organization?
GC: The Mousetrap Team’s philosophy is centered around being obsessed with finding a better way.  Our team members are out on the floor every day and know the property better than anyone.  We rely on our team members to provide us with game-changing ideas on how to make Greektown Casino-Hotel the best casino in Detroit!

IS: What’s the most important piece of advice that you can give to someone launching an IdeaScale community?
GC: The most important piece for us was getting the word out to all of our team members.  Less than 50% of our team here has a company email address, so we had custom business cards created that we handed out to every team member during our latest team member rallies.  The cards had the link to the Cheese Factory, as well as our email address to field any questions on the sign-up process.

IS: What are you most proud of in your innovation program?
GC: I think the biggest point of pride has been being able to give our team members a voice in the changes around the property.  Wooden suggestion boxes and verbal communication are great, but oftentimes those mediums lack follow-up.  “The Cheese Factory” allows team members to interact with the Mousetrap Team in a way where they feel their voices are truly being heard.  We respond to all ideas within 72 hours, and begin vetting the ideas with the business immediately.  We are relentless in our efforts to make sure our team members are in the loop for the entire process, and we think that gives everyone a real sense of ownership.

To learn more best practices from OI award winners visit http://ideascale.com/2014-open-innovation-awards/

What advice would you share? What else do you want to learn from OI Award winners?

2014 Innovation Award Winners

OIAwards2014The 2014 Open Innovation Awards winners have officially been chosen! This year we had many wonderful entrants, and we are incredibly pleased to announce the winners in each category.

Department of Labor—Best Engagement Strategy
The Department of Labor is the winner of the Best Engagement Strategy for their ePolicyWorks campaign. The campaign aimed to gather insight about the accessibility of social media platforms and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in STEM fields. Click here to find out more about the Department of Labor and the winning campaign.

Department of Energy—Best Moderation Strategy
The Department of Energy is the winner of the Best Moderation Strategy for their Sunshot Initiative. The Initiative is a national collaborative effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. Click here to find out more about the Department of Energy and the winning campaign.

Scentsy—Best Innovation
Scentsy Inc., an Idaho-based candle warmer company, is the winner of the Best Innovation award for their Family IdeaShare campaign. This campaign resulted in, among other things, a suggestion that became the top-selling warmer in Scentsy history. Click here to find out more about Scentsy and their award-winning innovation.

Congratulations to our winners!

Two particular strategies stand out as best practices from which we can all take a lesson: social media engagement and ease of participation. All three of our winners took full advantage of the social media outlets available to them to encourage user contributions. This was especially true with the Department of Labor, whose campaign focused on social media availability for people with disabilities. Additionally, all three made a point of making participation as uncomplicated as possible; involvement is understandably more likely when it is manageable. For example, the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative included step-by-step screenshots of the process for users.

Winners will receive an Apple iPad Mini, a discount on their 2015 IdeaScale subscription, and a stylized and shareable press packet. They will also have the ability to fast track a feature for 2015 and be able to activate one of the higher-end features free of charge. Congratulations again to our winners!

What might your organization do to be more engaging, have better moderation, and strive for the best innovation?

The City of Atlanta Leveraging Its Most Valuable Resource – Its Employees

When Barack Obama took office five years ago, he launched the White House SAVE Award – a program that sought ideas from federal employees about how to make the government not only more effective, but also more efficient when it came to spending (hence its name: “Securing Americans Value and Efficiency”).

Every year, the President issues a call to employees asking them to share their ideas using IdeaScale technology. Every branch across the US participates in the conversation and votes on one another’s ideas. Then, the Office of Management and Budget narrows down the best ideas to a “final four” which can be viewed and voted on by the American public. The winner is granted the honor of presenting his or her idea to the President in Washington. It has been a hugely successful program that has generated millions of dollars of savings on an ongoing basis.

In 2013, the City of Atlanta followed suit and instituted a city-wide campaign that engaged all Atlantian employees in generating ideas that could reduce waste, cut red tape and save money on operations. The city launched the program with a gala celebration that instructed employees on how to use the tool followed by ongoing, city-wide communications to all employees via email that encouraged them to submit ideas. They even had an offline option for employees who didn’t have access to a computer as part of their daily routine at work.

The campaign was celebrated as a success. They generated hundreds of ideas and from those hundreds, twelve were flagged for implementation, and the top three alone were evaluated to amount to a potential cost savings of $7.1 million annually.

If you want to learn more about the City of Atlanta’s crowdsourcing success, download the case study here.

3 Ways to Tap Internal Innovation Potential and Improve Morale

Innovation has become the benchmark of success for growing businesses, world class learning institutions, and government agencies. Public perception might not envisage government as an epicenter for innovation, and unfortunately these sceptics aren’t entirely wrong. According to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, issued by the Office of Personnel Management, the overall US government-wide innovation score decreased by 2.1 points from 2012 to 2013, down to a regrettable 59.4 out of 100. In a petition to the White House via its We the People website, a frustrated government employee gets to the heart of the problem, “For anyone outside the government, we are not all overpaid, lazy people. some are hard workers with the same problems you have and maybe more.”

Not all agencies suffered – the Federal Communications Commission’s innovation score improved by 4.6 points. NASA ranks as the best large agency to work for, with an innovation score of 76.0. So what did these agencies do differently? Both agencies have sunk themselves into a framework of innovation, built on the IdeaScale platform, fueled by internal experience and knowledge.

Involving Employees From Ideation to Decision Making
Getting employees involved in the decision process is one thing that Peggy Focarino of the Patent and Trademark Office noted was crucial to employee satisfaction, “I think we will continue with our very heavy focus of getting employee input […] through IdeaScale and letting employees vote to prioritize things they want management to explore and look into.” The Patent and Trademark Office beat out nearly 300 other subcomponents to achieve their spot on top. A platform like IdeaScale provides consistent, easy access for a large crowd, so that employees of every level can contribute ideas and make suggestions. This creates a direct line of communication between the high level decision makers, and the employees affected by these decisions. “And bluntly, it’s our strength that those folks will tell us, because they are closer to [the mission] than we are,” Robert Lightfoot, associate administrator at NASA explained to Federal News Radio.

Rewarding Employees for Good Ideas
From the Best Places to Work research we see that approximately 90% of employees are constantly looking for a better way to do their job, but only 54.7% feel supported by their employers in this pursuit. They have also found that opportunity, reward for, and empowerment to make these changes, as well as 3 other factors (that we’ll discuss in the next section) have a disproportionately high impact on innovation. Ruth Milkman, chief of staff at the FCC taps into this innovation potential by letting employees know, “what they do is important to advancing the mission of the agency, and to doing the things that are important to the American public.”

Being Open with Employees about Implementation
The other 3 big factors found by Best Place to Work are perceived level of respect from upper management, work satisfaction, and opportunities to showcase leadership skills. An IdeaScale community can be a sounding board of ideation, but also a way to keep all employees apprised of implementation. Good ideas can be publicized and congratulated, as well as the work that goes into implementing them. Broadcasting to all employees tells them that they are valued. Making employees a part of big decisions, throughout the cycle, will motivate and inspire future participation.