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The ultimate guide to listening to employee ideas on Workplace

The ultimate guide to listening to employee ideas on Workplace

Our complete guide to listening to employees and their incredible ideas using Workplace by Facebook.

 

A happy and engaged workforce makes for a productive and profitable business. However, keeping employees engaged in the company's mission and connected with the wider business can be tough.

Workplace Ideas Group

In this ultimate guide, we're going to look at why Workplace by Facebook is such a powerful tool to listen to employees and why employee ideas are as important, if not more important, as they have ever been.

The guide will also outline some best-in-class examples of companies using Workplace to listen to employees and the key steps to making an employee ideas campaign a massive success. 


Why listen to ideas?

Research we conducted on the State of Employee Ideas showed that 4 in 5 employees (82%) have ideas to improve their business, yet one in five feel afraid to voice them. 

These numbers represent a huge lost opportunity because employee ideas have long been the foundation for amazing innovations. Take the Post-it Note, for example - a result of two employees at 3M collaborating around a failed adhesive research project to create a product that now generates over a $1 billion a year!

3M Post-It Note - Intrapreneurship in Action - Sideways 6

And it's not just 3M who have a history of harnessing the power of employee ideas. Companies like McDonald's, Google and Sony have all launched flagship products as a result of listening to their employees' ideas. 

As our research has shown, there are lots of employees with a lot of ideas. But how do you harness these ideas, where do you start…?


Turning collaboration into innovation

The rise of digital collaboration and communication tools in companies is no big surprise. Since the digitalisation of the workplace, employees have needed an effective way to communicate with each other in a space that allows for collaboration and connection – just like an office in the physical world.

Let's be honest, email doesn't quite cut it and fortunately for everyone, tools like Workplace by Facebook have at last replaced the staggering 20-person email threads (remember those?).

Simpson gif

Workplace is an excellent tool for connecting all the employees in an organisation and offers a place for teams to work together on projects. It also serves the purpose of allowing employees to access information and receive updates from the wider business.

Because Workplace provides a communication platform for employees to work together in an organisation, it naturally becomes the place where ideas are formulated and shared. Equally, open groups and the main feed allow people from across the organisation to collaborate with new people and on new ideas.

 

Less than a third of companies have a clear process for managing employee ideas.

-----  The State of Employee Ideas  -----

This is the power of Workplace – it offers a great online space for employees to express ideas and collaborate around them. In many organisations, ideas are already being shared on Workplace; however, without a process or tool to collect and manage these ideas, they often remain untouched gems.


How to unlock the opportunity

Idea management tools like Sideways 6, enable you to automate the collection of ideas from Workplace and provide the tools you'll need in order to bring the best ones to life. 

Sideways 6 and Workplace by Facebook

Trust us, when your organisation is collecting hundreds of even thousands of ideas a month, you need a process to manage, sort and group submissions.

You will want to leverage the power of both experts and the crowd when it comes to reviewing ideas. Ideally you want this review process to be automatic so great ideas can be quickly shortlisted and given the go head to be brought to life.

Communication is also crucial in the process. It is integral to the success of your campaign to keep stakeholders in the loop. Focus on updating idea submitters on their ideas, congratulating milestones and encouraging collaboration.

Did you know?

Employee productivity increases by 20 to 25% in organizations where employees are connected and kept up to date - McKinsey

Finally, leveraging some form of analytics will give you a better view of how your campaign is performing. Look at who the influencers are in your network, keep an eye on network-wide sentiment and trends and make sure you are tracking the business impact of all the ideas and subsequent projects or changes.


Companies crowdsourcing with Workplace

Let's have a look at some organisations that are using Workplace to collect ideas and unlock the insight existing within their employees.

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca's mission is to provide life-changing medicines to patients in need. By 2025 it's aiming to not only double the number of medicines delivered but also double its revenue.

 

To help with this mission, the senior executive team wanted a way to flatten the organisation, drive innovation, and put the future direction of the company in the hands of its employees.

 

By combining the power of Workplace​ and Sideways 6, AstraZeneca are demonstrating the value of global communication and involving employees in business decisions.

-----  Anand Dass - Director Workplace Partnerships -----

Taking full advantage of the creativity of their 64,000 employees across 120 countries, they decided to augment their normal strategic process with a crowdsourcing event aimed at making every voice count.

To achieve its ambitious goal, AstraZeneca leveraged Workplace by Facebook, which had already been implemented as its global social tool.

With Sideways 6 integrated into the platform, AstraZeneca didn't need to send its employees to another platform to start collecting insights and ideas!

astrazeneca crowdsourcing campaign results sideways 6

The result was astounding – through their AZ2025 campaign run on Workplace and Sideways 6, AstraZeneca was able to collect over 23,000 ideas giving every employee the chance to have their say and influence what Astrazeneca will look like for years to come.  


Nestlé

For Nestlé, the objective was a little different. They wanted to discover and develop budding intrapreneurs within the business.

 

Through the InGenius programme, employees submit their ideas to innovation challenges, aiming for the opportunity to pitch to high-level management, Dragon's-Den-style.

The InGenius team invests heavily in idea-submitters who reach this stage by coaching them, co-developing their concepts, and validating prototypes over a period of eight weeks.

To scale this programme to a global audience, Nestlé decided to leverage their recently rolled out Workplace platform that was already connecting 120,000 employees. Workplace offered a great place to reach people and open up dialogues around innovation.

 

No matter who you are or what you do, if you are passionate you can submit an idea. InGenius is a way to allow our employees to find a voice and a platform for their ideas.

-----  Nick De Blasio - Employee Innovation at Nestlé -----

Connecting Sideways 6 into the Workplace network at Nestlé meant that they had a platform to manage innovation campaigns while utilising Workplace as the front-end which employees were already familiar with.

The integrated approach to collecting ideas meant Nestlé saw employee engagement increase by over 90% and a larger audience were able to share and collaborate around ideas.

Nestle case study - Ingenius - Sideways 6

With the help of Workplace and Sideways 6 the InGenius team have been able to launch 67 new projects (Korean rice cake KitKat anyone?) with over 4000 ideas shared. 63,000 employees have interacted with the initiative which is more than enough to fill a football stadium!


How to run an employee ideas campaign on Workplace

This would be a pretty incomplete ultimate guide if it didn't contain a nice 'how to'. Who doesn't love a how-to?

We have seen the incredible impact that employee ideas can have and two fantastic examples of companies using Workplace to gather ideas to create business change.

We are now going to look at some of the critical things to ask yourself about when it comes to setting up your employee ideas campaign on Workplace. Answering these questions will give you a sharp outline on running an employee ideas campaign through Workplace.

Start with why

If you're a fan of Simon Sinek like us, then you'll understand the importance of 'starting with why'.

Before getting stuck into all the exciting details like launch plans and executive sponsorship, you want to understand the why of your employee ideas campaign. Is your sole focus innovation? Or is it more about connecting and engaging employees?

Sideways 6 campaign stratergyGetting this set out early will act as an important north star when it comes to the rest of your campaign. Think of Nestlé – their why was to discover and nurture their budding intrapreneurs and it shaped the rest of their initiative.

What kind of campaign can you run?

Well, we are glad you asked! When it comes to choosing the type of campaign you want to run it's essential to focus on that all-important why (yes it's so important we're repeating it!).

Whatever your focus, Workplace is a great tool to run campaigns of any kind – from creating a listening leader and connecting your CEO to the workforce, all the way to a more targeted campaign to generate ideas for a new product launch.

Employee ideas campaign lookbook

Our Employee Ideas Campaign Lookbook highlights ten different campaign ideas that you can use for inspiration at your company. You can download the Lookbook here and check out the real-life examples of how our companies, including our customers, have done it.

What's the plan?

Next, you want to start formulating the plan. In the planning stage, it is again important to build off your why (stay with me here). Key things to nail down in your plan are:

  • Who will be the executive sponsor? 
  • How will you manage your ideas?
  • What's the process for choosing the best ideas?
  • How will you make the ideas a reality?
  • Is there time and budget available and who will own the projects?

Pro-Tip

Having an exec in place to really champion your project will increase the chances of success enormously. Get an exec onboard and have them really become part of the project.

How will you launch?

Use all the functionality in Workplace to make your campaign as visible as possible to your audience! You can run offline initiatives like events or launch parties and make sure you have a strong internal brand for your campaign. AstraZeneca did a great job of this with "AZ2025" which was instantly recognisable internally.

AZ 2025 employee ideas campaign

Picking a catchy hashtag or group name can make a big difference and don't be afraid to go all out on the internal comms side of things using pictures, videos, stickers, community calls and cat/dog gifs if needed…

When will the project run?

To genuinely create a culture of continuous improvement, engagement and innovation, we advise keeping your campaign running all year round. Doing so will create a platform for which other more targeted initiatives can be set up and all that impressive brand building you did in your launch can be leveraged and reinforced. 

Always on employee ideas campaigns

Once you have this up and running and people are engaging with your why, you can always launch additional projects within this campaign, but the real benefit of employee ideas is giving your employees a permanent place to go to whenever they have an idea to share. 


Summary

And that's all folks. If you understand why you want to listen to employee ideas, have a good plan around how you will collect ideas and from who, and add this to an exciting launch plan, then you are on to a winner!

Employee ideas and Sideways 6Workplace acts as the hub and communication platform within your business and is already home to some fantastic collaboration. By leveraging the power of idea management tools to collect ideas and bring the best ones to life, your workforce can become an engine for innovation and growth for years to come.

Make sure to check out our other articles for more customer inspiration when it comes to listening to employee ideas on Workplace!

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