Everyone knows that two heads are better than one. Most businesses already encourage the sharing of ideas at work. It could be brainstorming sessions, team-building events, quiet rooms dedicated to interaction and collaboration. Or even strategically placed sofas around the water cooler to encourage conversation and ideation.
But rather than leaving it to chance, consider how idea-sharing ‘technology’ could transform your business? Just think of the unlimited benefits of tapping into the collective wisdom of your team, including the increasing number of remote workers and freelancers in the workforce.
Idea-Sharing: Why It’s Important
Why is sharing ideas at work so essential?
Foster Innovation and Creativity
Collaboration and joint working foster a culture of innovation and creativity throughout the workforce. Bouncing ideas of colleagues, sharing insights as well as offering different experiences and feedback can result in breakthrough thinking. Solving problems and generating fresh ideas become a whole lot easier, rewarding and fun when co-workers collaborate to achieve a goal.
Add Value To The Customer
Senior managers and business owners often don’t have that daily interaction with customers that front-line staff do. And yet they are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the business and making budgetary decisions. However, it’s front-line customer service staff who deliver the product or service to customers. They also communicate daily with customers and so have a deep understanding about the needs, wants and complaints of consumers. Capturing their ideas, insights and suggestions can lead to improvements sure to add customer-value and improve your standing in the marketplace.
Improve Employee Engagement And Morale
One of the key drivers of employee engagement is being valued and appreciated. Having an idea-sharing platform in place sends an important message to employees that they are valued. It encourages staff to become actively involved in the business, increasing their sense of emotional connection and supporting a work environment that promotes constant learning, innovation and improvement. You will also benefit from an enhanced employer brand, making it easier to attract and retain the best talent in the market.
The bottom line is that sharing ideas at work can lead to increased revenue for the company. The improvements in business processes, cost-reducing measures and enhanced customer service will translate into more dollars in the bank.
Team Sharing Ideas
How can you encourage idea-sharing in your business? Start with having the right environment in place: Idea-Sharing Comes From The Top: Managers and leaders should set the right tone and make it clear to their teams that creative thinking is encouraged and valued. Give team members the space to test their ideas, resolve issues and find solutions collectively. This also involves making it clear it’s OK to be zany, blue-sky thinking and make mistakes. In fact, accepting the inevitability of mistakes will unleash the creative process.
Be Upfront About Business Goals
Keeping team members fully informed about the business, its changing goals, challenges and opportunities will enable staff to meaningfully contribute. Staff need that important contextual knowledge and awareness of operational parameters to guide their thinking and maximize the impact of their idea-sharing.
Ask Open And Closed Questions
Presenting staff with a blank piece of paper and asking for ideas on wide-ranging topics isn’t always the best way to encourage idea-sharing. Ensure you have closed questions – these can actually focus the mind and encourage staff to be more specific in their contributions, i.e. would you recommend our product? If no, then there’s some work to do.
Make It Fun
It doesn’t always have to be serious, work-related issues that staff are asked to contribute ideas on. Introducing a light-hearted element stops the process from becoming dull. Ask staff for their views on a team-bonding exercise, which sodas should be stocked in the office refrigerator or even which local deli has the best pastrami sandwich.
Provide Regular Feedback
It’s essential to feedback to staff on how their ideas and suggestions have produced results or led to real change. For example, if a cross-departmental team was charged with raising the company’s social media profile, make sure staff know which posts have been the most popular, which have led to conversions and how many new followers the company has acquired following their efforts. Seeing the tangible results of their ideas will encourage employees to ideate and innovate even more.
Say Thank You
Staff members will have put time and effort into their ideas and so it’s only right the organization acknowledges that with a thank you. It could in the shape of lunch vouchers, a token gift, or simply a thank you message from the CEO. This small gesture will, however, make a big difference in terms of boosting morale and the company culture.
Technology has made the process of sharing ideas at work a whole lot easier. Today’s workplaces have changed considerably over the last 20 years with flexible working becoming increasingly popular. Research from the US Census Bureau tells us that 4.7 million employees in the US work from home at least half the time.
What’s needed in the modern workplace is an idea-sharing platform that replicates that social network of old in a virtual sense. What’s needed is an intranet which not only serves as an idea-sharing platform, it will also deliver other, untapped business benefits.
Sharing Ideas At Work With An Intranet
The integrated office intranet has a number of advantages over other idea-sharing platforms, including:
- Document management system for simpler file storage and sharing both internally and externally
- News blogs and newsletters for enhanced internal communication
- Online quizzes and surveys to canvas staff views
- Company or team calendar to keep staff informed of key dates and events
- Automated online forms to streamline business processes
- Knowledge management systems to manage and transfer corporate knowledge.
All employees can enjoy access to the intranet, from any device, and requires only one sign-on for users. There’s no need for multiple screens and a variety of apps – it’s all there in one platform.
The intranet has many other important features that support the sharing of ideas at work.
Online Employee Profiles:
Full employee biographies that showcase employees’ areas of knowledge and expertise help to facilitate the exchange of ideas between employees. For example, Paula in Accounts may be struggling with an issue in Excel. A quick search through the employee directory can reveal sources of help in other teams.
Employee Idea Exchange:
It’s possible to set up a virtual employee suggestion box on the intranet. The difference with the intranet is that all employees can see what’s being put forward and are able to contribute and expand on the idea. What’s more, the intranet’s idea exchange increases accountability as management can easily feedback to staff on the outcomes of their suggestions.
Another suggestion is a bright ideas blog or wiki where staff can communicate, connect and share ideas, insights or ask questions on work-related issues.
These shared workspaces on the intranet allow for more advanced idea-sharing. A cross-departmental project group, for example, charged with reviewing the company’s marketing channels can set up a closed project space on the intranet. Access is restricted to the project team members only by a series of rules. The project team can then meet virtually to share information and data, brainstorm ideas. Problems and solutions in a team forum can be discussed, with automatic notifications.
Furthermore, it’s possible to embed G Suite or Office 365 apps directly in the intranet for real-time online collaboration. The marketing strategy could be worked on simultaneously by a number of team members with the intranet automatically saving the changes. There’s no need to email the strategy around to the team for editing and comments with complicated track changes that are hard to follow. And team members can have absolute confidence that the intranet has the very latest version of the strategy.
The sharing of ideas is essentially about social networking and the intranet makes it possible to replicate social networks online. The intranet comes with a number of integrated social features, including:
- Follow-me functionality
- Individual activity walls
- Site or team activity walls
- Notifications and subscriptions
- Add a friend
24/7 Remote Access:
The open-all-hours nature of the intranet means staff can share ideas and collaborate anytime and anywhere. All that’s required is a smartphone, tablet or computer and Wi-Fi connection.
And so, regardless of location, time difference or whether the worker is a freelancer or telecommuter, the intranet acts as a platform for idea sharing and social networking. The intranet breaks down the barriers caused by distance or information silos and may even help to reduce the amount of time staff spend attending or travelling to meetings.
Idea Sharing Made Easy With An Intranet
Encouraging staff to share their ideas, knowledge and insights fosters innovation in the workplace and will ultimately help to increase profits.
A simple to set-up and easy to manage cloud intranet facilitates the exchange of ideas so that all staff can contribute. The intranet is accessible 24/7 even to freelancers, contractors and those staff who are telecommuting or spend their time out on the road.
However, unlike other idea-sharing platforms, the intranet features a broad range of tools that will support more efficient and effective operations.
Get in touch with us here at MyHub for an informal discussion and learn how an intranet could breathe new life into your company’s idea-sharing. Why not find out for yourself just how effective a platform the intranet is with our free demo or 14-day no-obligation trial. Sharing ideas really is a whole lot easier with an intranet so get in touch today!