Will Read, CEO of Sideways 6, on how you can best manage innovation in-house to help grow your business.

Listening to employee ideas has never been more crucial for any business wanting to improve. For many, it can prove an essential part of unearthing brilliant new ways to shake up a business model, improve processes or drive innovation.

However, according to a survey by Gartner, 80% of collaborative efforts, such as employee idea management, fail due to a lack of adoption across many companies. Despite the importance of new ideas in our highly competitive world, implementation of solutions still proves to be a challenge for many businesses trying to drive themselves forward.

However, as technology advances and new platforms emerge, there are now a number of  solutions that businesses can utilise in order to help listen to their employees, manage their ideas pipeline more effectively and turn them into better ways of working.

An integrated approach

One particular approach is now offering a fresh take on capturing, managing and using  staff ideas in the most effective way – ‘Integrated Idea Management’. A relatively new way of working, integrated idea management is built on two core principles. Firstly, similar to traditional suggestion boxes, this should consist of, quick, easy and simple suggestions for people to collaborate their ideas. Secondly, similar to the recent developments in ideas apps, businesses should be using tools to enable smarter ways of filtering and prioritising employee ideas.

The value of employee ideas is not one to be ignored; they are the people who know the business better than anyone. Whether it be dealing with customers daily, solving challenges that arise or noticing bottlenecks that could be fixed or improved, their ideas should never be underestimated. With the  principles of an integrated approach in place, companies can capitalise on employee ideas in order to build a better business.

Better ways of working and happier employees

Poor management processes of employee ideas can prove costly for any business wanting to improve. By failing to listen to and understand employee ideas successfully, companies could potentially be missing out on a host of new opportunities to drive efficiency, and improve company culture and open up new revenue streams.

With an integrated approach to idea management, companies can utilise the channels on which their employees are already having conversations and circulating ideas. For many businesses, an effective platform to use would be an enterprise social network. Integrating idea management software into these networks is a quick and effective way for an entire workforce to socialise their ideas on one single platform, which also gives decision makers the ability to tap into these conversations to find the best ideas faster.

Businesses who adopt this approach to managing ideas can also often benefit from higher levels of engagement amongst employees, by using tools to help give them the voice they need to feel valued. This can not only unearth new ways to improve the overall success of the business, but will also ensure more motivated employees and a happier working environment – a factor which now proves essential for keeping staff committed to helping a business move forward.

Improved customer service

A recent analysis report from Gallup found that employee engagement consistently affects key performance outcomes, regardless of an organisation’s industry or company. One particular area in which this rings most true for businesses today is customer service.

This is now a battleground, on which many companies are fighting for new ways to gain a competitive edge and deliver a better customer experience. Yet, with employees interacting with customers on a daily basis, an integrated idea management approach can prove hugely effective in improving customer service.

Using technology to give employees a quick and easy way to share feedback from customers, can not only ensure that customers are being listened to, but can also help to identify any areas that need to be refined in order to deliver a seamless customer journey.

Implementing new platforms whilst simultaneously driving a business forward can be extremely difficult for many business leaders – especially those overseeing large and disparate workforces, across multiple departments. However, by combining technology with the power of employee ideas, decision makers can give their workforce the tools needed to share their insights and use them to take the business to new heights.