In an excellent report on employee engagement by Engage for Success called ‘Employee Engagement – The Evidence’ they talk about the connection between employee engagement and innovation. They say
Organisations are likely to increase engagement levels and workforce commitment when they actively encourage employees to innovate, improve methods, research solutions and participate in the decision making process
Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? But how do we encourage our staff to innovate, improve methods and research solutions?
I’ve recently been working with a group of managers who are finding it difficult to encourage their staff to evaluate their working processes and methods in order to generate ideas for improvement (asking the question ‘what improvements can you think of?’ was getting them nowhere fast!). Although they weren’t specifically focusing on improving employee engagement they had realised that not only would involving their staff improve the processes and methods but also improve job satisfaction
My view is that it’s useful for staff to have a structured approach for evaluating processes and methods and that the ‘SWOT’ analysis model can help with that. Here is the outcome of the work I did with those managers (using the example of the evaluation of a new system) and the questions we devised for them to use with their staff
Using SWOT for Innovation (and Employee Engagement!)
S – Strengths questions
What do you think works well with the system?
What have been the benefits of using the system?
What does this system give the customers?
How does it help you; reduce waste, increase efficiency, improve quality of service?
How has the system improved the way you work?
W – Weaknesses questions
Is there anything that doesn’t work well?
Are there any weaknesses in the system?
Have you encountered any problems or impediments?
Is there anything you don’t think adds value?
Are customers saying there’s a problem?
O – Opportunities questions
What needs to be improved?
How could we do that?
What are we missing that could work well?
How can we overcome the weaknesses?
T – Threats questions
Is there anything outside the team / unit that are having a negative impact on the effectiveness of the system – that’s threatening its effectiveness?
In what ways could we mitigate that threat?
Employee Engagement and Innovation Summary
Asking questions is always a great technique for building employee engagement. Asking ‘SWOT questions’ not only demonstrates to our staff that their opinion matters but also gives us the opportunity to identify improvements to working practices, processes etc – improvements that, often, only our employees can identify. Employee engagement and innovation – it’s a ‘win win’!
What methods do you, or the managers in your business, use to encourage your staff to innovate in order to build employee engagement?