Survey finds employees believe they are the best source of innovation

  • Over 90% of employees believe they are the best source of innovation
  • Over 90% of employees would be more likely to stay with their organisations if they could contribute more ideas

Sydney, 15 November 2018 – IdeaSpies Enterprise, a platform for ideas that will improve business performance, today revealed the results of an Employee Innovation Survey.

The purpose of the survey was to determine if employees have a voice in helping their organisations succeed. Innovation was defined simply in the survey as “implementation of ideas that add value”. There are many employee engagement surveys but not employee innovation surveys.

Lynn Wood, founder of IdeaSpies, said “This survey demonstrates the importance of harnessing employees’ ideas through a simple tool that gives them a voice. A key finding is that over 90% of employees believe they are the best source of innovation, with 57% strongly agreeing and 34% agreeing. The IdeaSpies Enterprise platform provides businesses with the opportunity to encourage their employees to contribute and implement ideas that may increase productivity and staff engagement.”

David Thodey AO, Chair of CSIRO and Jobs for NSW, said “I really like the IdeaSpies Enterprise solution. I have a strong view that the best source of innovation is your staff. They know the business and how to improve it better than consultants. The issue has always been how do you provide an open forum for those ideas?”

When respondents were asked how they contributed ideas in their organisations 76% said direct to their boss and 62% said through a team. Teams that are diverse and inclusive drive and support innovation. They can implement quick wins.

90% of employees have had their ideas adopted and 76% said they could contribute more useful ideas than they do now, especially those who are 26-35 years old (89%).

When asked what would make it easier for them to contribute ideas the top response was 45% wanting a software tool/digital platform that’s easy to use, with lower management particularly in favour at 59% as well as organisations with 5,000 plus employees at 64%.

Only 26% of employees said that their organisations offer a software tool/digital platform to contribute ideas, including 41% of organisations with 5,000 plus employees. When an innovation tool is provided, 75% of employees use it, males 81% and females 68%. Perhaps women need more encouragement in some organisations though they have been well represented as winners in programs run by KPMG with IdeaSpies Enterprise.

Tony Nimac Partner in charge of KPMG Enterprise NSW said “We trialed IdeaSpies Enterprise last year and have continued to use it. It was very well received by staff. It’s thought provoking, fun and easy to use, with no training needed. People see the tool as an opportunity to suggest ideas that could improve the way they work. In addition to specific ideas, we’ve seen themes coming from the ideas that have led to improvements. We give selected staff the opportunity to implement ideas they suggest and have benefited from improving staff engagement.”

Employees want more power to implement ideas they suggest. They also want management to be more supportive in testing ideas. 23% said nothing happened with their ideas and many were annoyed when time was spent developing an idea and either they weren’t empowered to test it, or they received no feedback on why it wouldn’t be accepted. Feedback was shown to be important in building employee engagement.

Another key finding is that over 90% of employees would be more likely to stay with their organisations if they could contribute more ideas. Significantly, 98% of lower management would be more likely to stay. Losing employees who want to contribute more would be a significant cost to these organisations.

Progressive organisations are getting rid of 20th century silo thinking and need managers who have vision, imagination and drive (VID) Those who have VID are quick to see the value of ideas and proposals and have the drive to implement them.

Lynn Wood said “It’s a good sign that 73% of employees are offering ideas without an incentive to do so. Recognition of ideas is a strong motivator. It’s one thing to contribute ideas to an organisation, but it is even more important to know that you have been heard.

“Only 27% of organisations provide an incentive to contribute ideas; however, 58% of respondents (65% male and 53% female) said they would provide more ideas if there was an incentive to do so. Significantly, 87% of 18-35 year-olds said they would contribute more ideas if an incentive was offered.

“It’s good to see that 84% of leaders are talking about the need for innovation, but only 69% of employees believe the culture of their organisation actually welcomes new ideas. This result indicates there is a significant gap in organisations ‘walking the talk’ on innovation. Organisation that offer a tool for employees to contribute ideas have much better scores.

“Frustration was expressed when organisations said they wanted innovation but were not resourcing it. Management often give the illusion of wanting ideas, but then lack the skills to capture ideas in a simple way, give feedback and implement good ideas.

“Management need to stop feeling comfortable about the way they do things – for example by saying ‘that’s the way we have always done things’. In organisations like this, employees who suggest new ideas can be seen as a threat. In more progressive organisations, innovation is part of the culture- a continuous process where employees are encouraged to suggest ideas.”

The Employee Innovation Survey was sent to about 2,000 employees, with 18% responding and volunteering extensive comments- see below. Having established a benchmark, it’s now possible for individual organisations to use the survey to compare their results with the benchmark.

A full report on the results with charts and comments is now being prepared. Please contact Lynn Wood if you’d like to receive it.

Media Contacts:

Antonino Blancato
Financial & Corporate Relations (FCR), ph 02 8264 1009

Lynn Wood
IdeaSpies Enterprise, ph 0418 966 625

Employee Innovation Survey comments at the end (excluding many that were very complimentary of the survey)

My organisation’s leader is fixated on innovation however doesn’t have the resources to fund it. It’s extremely frustrating as the health of the business is crumbling.

It’s one thing to contribute ideas to an organization but it is even more important to know that you have been heard. Many times the act of being asked to contribute is hollow. Management give the illusion of wanting contributions/ideas but then lack the skills to either give feed back or implement or recognize good ideas

Motto of our Social Enterprise ” One individual can make a difference, but it takes a team effort to make it happen”

Organisations are too wrapped and comfortable in the way they do things. I often hear ‘don’t go re-inventing the wheel’ or ‘that’s the way we have always done things’. What innovation incentives can people expect when organisations are afraid of change no matter how prepare they think they are.

Innovation in Government is such a challenge when their are cut backs like in WA. Any suggestions are piecemeal. Culturally Australia is a long way behind places such as Scandinavia and the UK

Innovation is a continuous process and should be part of the organisation culture..

It’s hard to pilot innovations in a nonprofit due to resource constraints. There is often just not enough time on top of your day job to get these new ideas across the line

In Asia the companies are mainly managed in a restricted and dictatorship rather than a place to encourage new ideas.

Teams that are diverse and inclusive will drive and support innovation

How can you dig in more to understand how companies use data to support idea generation or execution, especially if they don’t use a specific innovation tool?

I would argue that being heard and when appropriate having ideas implemented is a much bigger incentive than any extrinsic inducement.

Biggest barrier to innovation is not carving out time for it Second barrier for new ideas – people keep thinking it has to be a big idea. Incremental changes can have bid impact

Just talking about ideas misses the main issue – pathways for implementation!

Great to get this out there. We need to encourage staff in enterprises to bring all their ideas to work.

The issue is not about gathering ideas, the problem is the boys club and factions that have vested interest in their own ideas or existing empires.

Dictatorial senior management not interested in innovation or including others ideas

Innovation is difficult if not impossible when the mindset is cost cutting – it takes leadership and investment to make it work on this environment

My experience is that in most organisations if you generate a good idea, you have to be prepared to get involved in doing the work to implement it. Too often ideas are thrown around, but the idea doesn’t get implemented because no-one will take the next step to actually work on it. I have never had a good idea knocked back but I always take a part in the implementation and I think that’s a key difference.

Our biggest barrier to innovation is time

Innovation is everyone’s business, at every level of the organisation. It must be able to be implemented and it must improve outcomes to be true innovation. Otherwise, it’s just an interesting (or not so interesting) idea.

In most case it the 20th-century system that having a hard time with innovation and getting collaboration going.

I responded yes to offering more ideas if incentives were provided however what I think would be a great incentive is a place where ideas are accepted and encouraged rather than barred and dismissed. An encouraging and receptive manager would be a great incentive.

Incentives are the way to get ideas out of employees

I think innovation is a topic that is often given lip service by senior management, however due to lack of incentives/organisational structure, is often overlooked by the average worker as they seek to complete daily tasks. I do have the ability to affect changes in my smaller team and drive process improvement etc however not on a broader organisation level

This survey is an excellent way of raising awareness of the importance of innovation.

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3 responses

  1. Oliver’s comment is spot on, since the people responding to the survey and whose data is represented are NOT able to do much about it. Oh, a few that have the Disruptive Innovation mindset will, and they generally have earned the right to run the risk.

    It is up to EVERYONE ELSE to make the data known and the impacts respected. I have been in this performance improvement framework since I started working in high school and it is evident from my work with organizations over the past 40 years that leaders will GET it when they choose to Get It. They need to see a WWIFM kind of game frame, that they see some personal benefits for taking a personal risk about doing something differently. As Dilbert said, “Change is good. You go first.”

    Managers could easily encourage their people more because they do not encourage them MUCH as things stand now. Read any of a thousand surveys taken over the past 30 years and see that little has really changed with it comes to the active involvement of people in organizations when you look at the bigger picture. Lots of small successes that get swarmed over by the general indifference to dealing well with workers.

    The way we get this information known is to know it and to SHARE it with others. Lynn and I have talked about illustrating some of it and me blogging about results and reactions. SOME leaders, managers and supervisors will Get It. But MORE need to actually change their behavior, and that represents some huge cultural changes. In most places, “Active Involvement” is an oxymoron.

  2. Yes you are right Scott- it’s important for all of us to share these survey results so we can help to get change i.e. to INSPIRE ACTION! Metrics help people understand why change is needed.

What do you think?