In order for an employee idea program to succeed, it needs to have a purpose. And for that purpose to succeed, it must line up with the organization’s broader strategic objectives or business goals.
But what does success look like?
Idea program success doesn’t just mean discovering great employee suggestions and turning those into business improvements that also boost employee engagement.
For sure, those are the mid- and late-stage results you want to get to.
But as anyone who has tried introducing a new program in a corporate setting can attest, just getting a new way of doing things off the ground can be a major victory in itself. Organizational (and bureaucratic) roadblocks, institutional ambivalence to new things and the ever-present “how do we find the time and resources for that” are some common challenges here.
When it comes to employee idea programs, aligning program goals with the big-picture objectives is crucial to getting around these barriers, letting you leverage existing (and widely recognized) important objectives to gain support for the new employee suggestion program.
There are four reasons why getting those big-picture goals on the same page with the idea program are important.
Grease the wheels: Make executive buy-in easier
Depending on the emphasis on engagement or innovation within your company culture (and, vitally, within its leadership culture), getting the thumbs-up from your senior leadership team for the idea program can either go smoothly or turn into a sand trap.
Making sure you’ve done your homework on aligning the idea program with company goals ahead of the big pitch meeting will help here. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to frame the program in terms the leadership team can understand (remember, they’re the ones who are setting down those organization-wide goals in the first place!). Situating it in this way will make the concept much more accessible for the leadership team to understand — and more likely to approve and champion.
Open sesame: Key to unlocking resources
This point builds on getting executive buy-in. Aligning the idea drive with broad strategic objectives makes the program easier for those who hold the keys to company resources easier to support. And if you’ve got someone at the C-Suite level championing the idea program, this makes securing the necessary organization time and resources (including human resources) much easier.
Staying in the lane to success: Keeping the idea program on track
When it comes to the nuts and bolts of the employee suggestion effort itself, making sure the process is plugged into strategic objectives will go a long way to keeping the activities of the program team and the nitty-gritty of idea program implementation on track and productive.
One important example of how this pays off involves the framing statement. This is the statement/call to action prompt that serves as the gateway for how your employees engage with your suggestion platform. Making sure it meets the gold standard for framing statements means it will clearly explain the purpose of your suggestion program and empower employees to share their insights.
Show me the ROI: Translating program results into bottom-line ones
There’s a lot of head-scratching and back-and-forth that goes into crafting an organization’s strategic objectives. And odds are this will include setting down some ways to measure performance through target metrics (such as employee engagement surveys or Net Promoter Score).
And this idea program-strategic alignment will move the needle through one of two ways (or both!).
Having the idea program team’s mind-melded with the strategic goals of the C-Suite will ensure that each step of the program is on track to impact relevant metrics. For example, the themes for which the framing statement/call to action question deals with will explicitly tie into overall organization goals.
(An example here: if the strategic goal for a hospital involves having the most-satisfied patients, the idea program question that employees answer might be “How can we find new ways to improve the patient experience?”)
It will also ensure that the employee idea program is playing in the same ballpark as those strategic goals. This means that the direct results of the program (such as more engaged employees) will be picked up on the radar of the ways the organization measures whether it is reaching those strategic aims. Aside from the Net Promoter Score, another common performance tool is the service profit chain.
We’ve got more help for those curious about launching an employee idea program — and getting the most out of it by positioning it for success.