Innovation through employee engagement
Formulating Strategy: Ideas can emerge from debates or conversations among peers
Co-creation through innovation is the new mantra in today’s business. Enterprises are looking to engage employees across the globe to efficiently create new products, services and processes.
However, to realise these possibilities enterprises need to first connect their employees in a manner that will enable them to collaborate seamlessly.
Collaboration, in turn, leads to greater innovation, which, eventually, paves the way for organisational growth. Business platforms play a pivotal role in enabling such a collaborative environment through best practices, organisational fabric (policies, change management, etc), technology, and business services – all delivered on the Cloud.
Studies have consistently shown that engaged employees are more active contributors to an organisation’s growth. A poll on employee engagement shows that companies with high levels of employee engagement improved 19.2 per cent in operating income while companies with low levels of employee engagement declined 32.7 per cent.
So, how do companies create a vibrant and collaborative environment that bridges borders and cuts through time zone limitations? How can an enterprise connect employees on a common platform and give them the resources to collaborate and innovate? How can employees express and discuss ideas and get a chance to participate in formulating strategy or taking decisions?
All these must be enabled in an environment that is context-driven and which fits in with the employees’ and organisation’s worldview of purpose, goals and working culture.
An ill-conceived collaboration engine can result in ineffective information and connections sharing, causing the employees to perceive significantly reduced value from the system. Such a system will progressively lose its relevance and usage attractiveness over a period of time.
Hence, a smart system that is based on the employees’ current project, interests, recent conversations/questions, etc, is very important.
Traditionally, organisations have resorted to one-way asynchronous communication strategies such as newsletters and emails. Such a methodology fails to enable collaboration in terms of sharing of knowledge and ideas which are usually tacit in nature and requires contextualisation for effective use.
Instead, the interactivity and connectivity enabled by social channels can be leveraged as an effective instrument to boost collaboration and stimulate innovation in terms of processes and products.
Enterprises can deploy a common engagement platform to unlock the possibilities for a more fulfilling work experience, better productivity and greater organisational growth. The platform serves as a rendezvous point for employees, a forum for sharing innovative ideas and knowledge. The ideas can emerge from debates or conversations that employees can have among them. A survey by a reputed research organisation reveals that higher levels of engagement are strongly related to higher levels of innovation.
Almost 59 per cent of engaged employees say that their job brings out their most creative ideas against only 3 per cent of disengaged employees.
By creating a socially enabled enterprise through an employee engagement platform, business leaders can easily connect with employees. They can have wider visibility into organisational working and feel its pulse. Employees, in turn, can form social communities that provide a secure way of sharing intellectual knowledge, company news and opinions in real time.
Furthermore, a socially enabled enterprise enhances real-time decision making due to increased visibility and engagement.
An enterprise can enhance the level of engagement with its employees by making the social fabric pervasive – a way to socially activate and connect the existing employee-centric applications. These include learning management system, and travel and expense management systems. An enterprise can socially activate current applications by adding social widgets like comment, ratings, share or tag. Companies can simply subscribe to readily available, customisable social media engagement tools which can be deployed over the Cloud.
Business platforms offer new ways of working through innovative enterprise-class business-ready applications such as knowledge management, new employee onboarding, policy management, network manager, and ideation. Such platforms delivered on the cloud ensure that enterprises keep their capex very low and they can pay only based on outcomes, assuring guaranteed and measurable returns.
The need of the hour is to increase employee productivity and innovate – and to do this, the enterprise must keep employees inspired and engaged by enabling collaboration. A successful engagement platform can enable a synergistic relationship between business leaders and employees to foster collaboration and co-creation. Through efficient dialogue and idea generation, employees can be motivated to collaborate, to innovate, and create products and services. Such partnerships foster a spirit of growth and learning thereby enabling employees to develop management skills and leadership traits.
Further, by optimally channelising their human resource, companies can tap into a subtle but effective way of branding - leveraging employees as brand ambassadors.
Engaged employees connect better with the external world and their reviews can excite consumers to engage with the brand on a personal level, providing companies with a key competitive advantage. Studies show that employee engagement has a telling effect on productivity.
If organisations increased investment in a range of good workplace practices which relate to engagement by just 10 per cent, they can increase profits by $2,400 per employee per year.
Enterprises also need to adopt an integrated employee engagement platform or socially enable their existing IT environment to deepen employee engagement and enable innovation.
But that’s just the first vital step. The journey also involves creating the right environment and seeding the system. Most importantly, enterprises must weave an organisational fabric consisting of policies and guidelines to effectively guide and leverage the next-generation collaborative work culture.
(The writer is Associate Vice -President and Head of SocialEdge & CommerceEdge, Infosys Limited)