One of the many things that can increase employee engagement and satisfaction and show employees you care is giving them opportunities to provide feedback and share their ideas with company leaders. In a recent blog, we discussed some tips for getting that positive feedback loop started. But if you do reach out to your employees and ask for new ideas, be prepared to act. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review gives a couple examples of best and worst practices when it comes to seeking employee ideas.
One example was a company who solicited ideas from employees including new products and services, how to increase sales, and how to improve customer satisfaction in an effort to drive growth. The response was overwhelming and by the end of the submission period, the company had over one thousand new ideas. Sifting through those ideas took so long that by the time any one item was decided on, they were not able to get the results they had hoped for. Also, the lack of follow up could have made employees more skeptical about suggesting ideas in the future, since they saw no immediate action. The good news in this case is that the company learned that their employees were very engaged and wanted to be a part of moving the company forward.
Another example was a company that had a more successful experience. They knew from past experience that employees would be eager to share their ideas. In order to streamline the process, they were very specific about the process they were looking to improve, adding focus to the ideas coming in. They also selected “idea champions” who were responsible for filtering and doing some preliminary research on ideas presented by employees. They were also responsible for thanking employees and providing feedback on why certain ideas were not selected to move forward. This personal touch allowed the company to protect the high level of engagement in their employees and preserve the chance to ask for new ideas in the future.
So while asking employees to share their ideas can be a great way to increase employee engagement, make sure you have a system in place to handle those idea prior to soliciting them. Otherwise you risk losing good ideas and damaging employee satisfaction.