Discover the power of employee idea management and unlock the potential of your organization by fostering a culture of collaboration, innovation, and employee empowerment. 

Great ideas can come from anyone in a business. But getting those ideas from suggestion to action can be challenging. 

On one hand, employees who lack influence or easy access to decision-makers may find it difficult to get their ideas taken seriously; on the other, organizations may not have the capabilities to manage and implement thousands of potential innovations. Given that just three in 10 employees believe their opinions count at work in 2023, something is definitely being missed. 

Here’s the issue: 

Assuming they don’t have a direct line to senior leadership, how should a mechanic or warehouse worker get their cost-cutting idea to a CEO thousands of miles away? And from their perspective, how can the CEO ensure the company doesn’t miss it? 

The step-by-step plan to creating an employee listening strategy

Learn everything you need to build an effective employee listening strategy with the ultimate step-by-step guide!

By tapping into the unfiltered thoughts of individuals across the entire organization, game-changing concepts can emerge – ideas that those in charge of company strategy may not have already considered. These ideas have the potential to drive growth and foster a culture of collaboration, leading to innovative solutions and new opportunities. 

This is where having an employee idea management strategy can turn things around. Idea management is not only a proven method for accessing the untapped potential in your organization – as we will highlight below in real-world examples from Nestlé and M&S – it also boosts employee voice and fosters a sense of value and inclusion.  

Understanding employee idea management 

An effective employee idea management strategy involves several key components.  

First, organizations must create an open and supportive environment where employees feel encouraged to express their ideas. 

You can read our article on psychological safety at work here. 

This has been made easier in recent years because of the emergence of idea management technology that creates multiple touchpoints for employees to submit ideas across the other platforms channels they use every day, such as your intranet software and Microsoft Teams. 

Secondly, organizations need to establish a streamlined process for capturing, evaluating, and implementing ideas. This is where idea management technology again adds value by facilitating idea submission, collaboration, and evaluation. Innovation management platforms not only streamline the process but also ensure transparency and accountability throughout the idea management lifecycle. 

A campaign-led approach to idea management 

With idea management technology in place, organizations can set up, execute, and evaluate idea generation campaigns that empower employees to contribute easily through a centralized platform. 

But what does an effective idea campaign entail? 

Idea campaigns are typically categorized based on the nature of the ideas sought, the specific challenges or problems being addressed, and the campaign’s duration. For instance, a campaign may span three months with a specific focus on cost-saving ideas, or it could be an ongoing campaign aimed at generating new product concepts without a fixed end date. 

To maximize the long-term impact, organizations often find that running a combination of different campaign types concurrently is the most effective approach. By synchronizing various campaigns, they can tap into a broader range of insights and ensure a sustained flow of innovative ideas. 

Real-world examples of employee idea management from leading brands 

Many organizations have successfully implemented employee idea management strategies, reaping the benefits of enhanced employee engagement among their intrapreneurs. Two notable examples are Nestlé and AstraZeneca. 

Nestlé brews up 67 innovative new products and services 

Coffee beans in a pot.

Leading global food and beverage company Nestlé has fully embraced the power of employee idea management to foster innovation and drive positive change. By implementing an idea management platform that serves as a centralized hub for employees to share their ideas, provide feedback, and collaborate across teams and geographies, the organization has empowered employees at all levels to actively contribute their insights and suggestions, resulting in a multitude of innovative ideas being generated. 

The step-by-step plan to creating an employee listening strategy

Learn everything you need to build an effective employee listening strategy with the ultimate step-by-step guide!

For example, utilizing the idea management platform, Nestlé saw a remarkable 96% employee participation rate in submitting ideas, showcasing the high engagement and enthusiasm among its workforce.  

Additionally, within the first year of implementing the program, Nestlé received over 5,000 employee-generated ideas, demonstrating the vast potential for fresh perspectives and solutions that can be harnessed through employee idea management. 

Through the employee idea management program, Nestlé’s supply chain team was able to identify and implement process improvements that led to a reduction of 15% in waste and a significant improvement in overall operational efficiency.  

Another idea brought forth by a marketing team member led to the development of a new product line that generated an additional $10 million in revenue within the first year of launch. These examples highlight how Nestlé has tapped into the collective creativity of its workforce and effectively translated employee ideas into tangible business outcomes. 

By implementing ideas from employees, Nestlé has not only enhanced operational efficiency but has also fostered a culture of continuous improvement. The success of the employee idea management program is evidenced by the fact that 82% of Nestlé employees reported feeling that their ideas were valued and considered, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement within the organization. 

AstraZeneca’s crowd-powered strategy 

Laboratory technician using a microscope.

Global pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has embraced the power of employee idea management to drive innovation and improve operational efficiency within its organization with an employee idea management program that encourages employees to contribute their ideas and suggestions for process improvements, new drug development, and other strategic initiatives. 

Through the platform, AstraZeneca has created a dedicated space where employees from various departments and locations can submit their ideas and engage in collaborative discussions. This has resulted in an impressive 80% employee participation rate, highlighting the high level of engagement and enthusiasm among its workforce. 

One notable success story from the organization’s employee idea management program involves a cross-functional team that developed an innovative solution to streamline the clinical trial recruitment process. The idea, submitted by a research scientist, suggested leveraging artificial intelligence and data analytics to identify suitable patient populations more efficiently. By implementing this idea, AstraZeneca was able to reduce the recruitment timeline by 30% and significantly enhance the efficiency of its clinical trials, leading to faster drug development and improved patient outcomes. 

Another impactful idea came from a manufacturing technician who proposed a new approach to optimize the packaging process, resulting in a reduction of waste materials by 25% and a notable increase in production efficiency. This initiative not only contributed to cost savings but also demonstrated the organization’s commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. 

The success of their employee idea management program is evident from the fact that more than 60% of implemented ideas have resulted in measurable business impact, ranging from cost savings to improved patient care and operational efficiencies. In addition, employee engagement and satisfaction have significantly increased, with 85% of employees reporting feeling that their ideas are valued and considered. 

Empowering employees to ignite change 

Through the implementation of a well-defined employee idea management strategy (and as part of an employee listening strategy), organizations can create a dynamic environment where ideas thrive and employees feel empowered to contribute to their fullest potential. It’s clear that embracing this approach not only drives growth but also cultivates a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement, paving the way for long-term success with the added bonus of increased employee ownership and satisfaction.  

The step-by-step plan to creating an employee listening strategy

Learn everything you need to build an effective employee listening strategy with the ultimate step-by-step guide!