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8 Ways To Encourage Employee Innovation

Some time ago, Heinz had decided to take the talent and employee innovation displayed by its workforce seriously as it really was the most unused asset in any company. The improvements suggested was worth $250 million a year. Immersed in strategies and innovation we forget to ask ourselves a very basic question...

Photo of Heinz and employee innovation at Heinz

...How do we tap into ideas from the people working in our business? What can we do to achieve this?

1. Bring diversity across your teams to boost employee innovation

The organisation should encourage open communication. The key is to bring together diversity in your team and your people. They should encourage informal feedback during projects and formal feedback at the completion of assignments. They also seek views and feedback on new ideas, and work towards implementing sound ideas.

2. Employee Innovation works best in a flat hierarchy

Invest in young leaders. More importantly one needs to establish a common place where all people in the organisation across hierarchies can come together and converge their perspectives. They also encourage regular brainstorming sessions between different business units. Demonstration of how conformity is not always the way to go, helps.

Funny comic of birds and employee innovation

It doesn’t have to be like this anymore.

3. Crowdsource employee innovation privately

Online systems for recording, developing, and evaluating ideas have been very effective in attracting contributions and stimulating the company’s employee engagement innovation efforts. Focus on small individual innovations from the people most familiar with a company’s products and processes.

IBM (company), for example, used space on its corporate Intranet to launch a 72-hour “Innovation Jam” that attracted 57,000 visitors and 30,000 posts addressing new business opportunities.

IBM's example of employee innovation - Innovation Jam

4. Don’t restrict employee innovation from 9 to 5

Team members should leverage these online platforms to pour in their ideas even if it strikes them in the shower at 1 in the night. Create a culture for change and continuous improvement where priority is to ship/rollout first, then iterate to arrive at successful employee innovation programs.

5. Lower barriers to ideas

70%. That’s more than half of the people in your organisation who hesitate to speak up due to the fear of getting shot down. Make a conscious effort to lower barriers to ideas and eventually boost employee led innovation. There are a lot of human behaviours and corporate behaviours that get in the way of people sharing useful ideas. You have to take those behaviours very seriously.

6. Introduce anonymity and confidentiality

Allowing anonymous idea submissions on these platforms would grant these employees the anonymity and confidentiality they crave, thereby inspiring the creative spirit that you wish to instil as part of the organisation culture.


7. Assign a chief courage officer to boost employee innovation

Senior people need to act as “chief courage officer,” creating a zone of protection for ideas in their infancy. Openness and trust from leaders is critical to allow people to experiment and do new things.

8. Track employee innovation with metrics

Just the act of paying attention improves performance. A clear understanding of who makes the call on a new idea is a must, so that the innovation doesn’t wither on the vine.

employee innovation sample dashboard

If you’re still struggling to bring about employee innovation and close feedback loops, use inFeedo to make ideation a continuous process. Sign up now at www.infeedo.com for a free 30 minute consultation.

Akshay Khetrapal
Akshay Khetrapal
Marketing Lead at inFeedo

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