By Alycia Meyers
Employee-Led Innovation Program Reaps Real Results in its First Year
Promoting innovation is a critical factor in the growth of any company and most innovation initiatives start from the top down with management leading the directive. But what happens when an innovation initiative is designed and led by employees with the support of management?
I believe that an employee-driven model is a good one to follow: it encourages innovation and promotes the free exchange of ideas across the organization and between management and non-management employees. People will work ten times harder on an idea they feel passionately about and employees who are given the opportunity to implement their own ideas work even harder and demonstrate greater job satisfaction.
CU*Answers management has promoted an open-door policy with staff members since its founding, which made it the perfect place to launch my Be An Innovator program. We launched the program in December 2012 and hold meetings (Be an Innovator Idea and Networking luncheons) every two months. Each meeting begins with an introduction followed by time for employees to present ideas and gather feedback. We ask participants to fill out an evaluation form (Employee Idea form) by answering a few questions at the end of each session. We use the evaluations to help grow the program.
We currently have a nearly 50 percent employee participation rate and have generated a number of promising initiatives since our Be an Innovator program began. In fact, twenty ideas have been discussed at our Be an Innovator Idea and Networking luncheons since our May meeting and we plan to implement six of the big ideas that have come out of the program this year.