How to Create a Culture of Idea-Sharing at Work

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Every leader wants employees who believe in the company's purpose and are motivated to achieve it. Motivated employees create a healthy working environment that nurtures team spirit, ultimately working towards a shared purpose. But how do managers support employees to encourage more collaboration in the workplace?


One of the best ways to accomplish this is by nurturing an idea-sharing culture within your organization. Encouraging your employees to share ideas helps them feel heard while promoting collaboration. This improves employee engagement and morale, which translates to growth and higher profits. 


An excellent example of the impact of idea-sharing is Google's Gmail and Adsense innovations, which resulted from the company's 20 % time policyThe policy encouraged employees to spend 20% on projects not directly related to their work but still relevant to Google. Even if not all projects were implemented at the company level, the policy is an opportunity for employees to expand their skill sets and create relationships with others within the company. 


It is never too late to start nurturing a culture of idea-sharing in your business. So if you are looking to cultivate an idea-sharing culture in your business, here are a few ways to do it right.


1. Establish an Open-Door Policy

The open-door policy is a practice that encourages employees to feel free to approach senior management with any concerns, ideas, or inquiries. The policy increases workplace trust, which enables idea-sharing.


The open-door policy is easier said than done, and if implemented incorrectly, it becomes more of a problem than a solution. For instance, employees might assume only senior officers can solve their issues, leading to a high dependence on senior managers.


To do it right, you need to create rules. Insist employees taking issues to their immediate supervisors before approaching the executives. You can also give specific hours and employ active listening with no distractions. Finally, if you cannot have in-person meetings, offer alternative channels, such as virtual meetings. 


Also, take the opportunity to show that you are willing to listen to their ideas. For instance, allow them to guide the conversation and do most of the listening. This will enable the conversation to flow naturally.


2. Encourage Feedback

According to Forbes, both positive and negative feedback boosts a company's growth. While positive feedback outlines a company's successes, negative feedback allows it to identify its weaknesses.


Feedback also helps you develop strong business acumen by giving you enough information to make informed decisions. So if you are looking to grow, you need to foster a culture that allows continuous and constructive feedback.


Avoid limiting feedback and idea-sharing opportunities. Instead, encourage a culture where managers and coworkers share ideas and work together. But, if you are still building the culture, you can set up anonymous channels to collect feedback. This allows more employees to be open to idea-sharing.


Let your team see their feedback being used to make a difference in the organization. When possible, prove to them that specific policies and changes result from their feedback. This encourages more people to embrace the idea-sharing culture in future sessions.                                  


You can also encourage your employees to give feedback if you share your own first. This will create rapport and encourage your employees to open up too. It can either be challenges, goals, or solutions. 


3. Provide Multiple Channels

Suggestion boxes and employee reviews are the most basic feedback collection channels. But, they might be a bit uptight and controlled for some employees.

You need to have multiple idea management solutions to encourage idea-sharing. For instance, you can roll out an idea management software like Crowdicity. The app is an idea exchange platform that allows users to post ideas and vote on them. It also provides idea-sharing on social media platforms.


You may also implement a collaboration tool like Slack, where your employees can create channels, discuss their ideas in a safe space, and share files and folders related to their personal projects. 


By opening multiple channels for collaboration and idea-sharing, you encourage your team members to start their own projects, work together with like-minded colleagues, and share their results with the rest of your organization.


4. Offer Incentives

Here is a fact, most of your employees are creative; they are just not motivated enough to show it. Seeing colleagues get appreciated for their ideas might be the push your team is looking for. Rewards create healthy competition and encourage employees to be forthcoming with their ideas.


The employee incentive industry has a value of over $100 billion. In addition, incentive programs can boost your employees' performance by 44%. Rewarding your employees for sharing their ideas will also benefit your business. 


However, you have to ensure that the options come from the employees themselves. If you have something employees want, they will actively take part. It also creates a sense of belonging in the workplace.


Most incentives in the workplace are monetary. However, there are other ways to appreciate your employees:

  • Career development training programs
  • Additional time off to pursue their interests
  • Recognition in your workplace intranet or bulletin boards

Ensure your incentive program is centered around the culture and values you want to encourage in the workplace


In Closing


Your employees are not quiet because they lack innovative ideas. Most lack the opportunity and other drivers of employee engagement mentioned above. So encourage your employees by implementing the tips discussed, tweak them to fit your company, and gradually see your employees embrace the culture.


Include idea-sharing as an official policy in the employee handbook, and emphasize the importance of employee engagement objectives. This will help current employees embrace idea-sharing as standard company culture. It will also be easy to bring future employees on board.


How can your organization thrive in the future of work? DH has created a strategic people plan to help uncover gaps & move your culture into the future. 

People Strategy Sessions

About the Author

Sam Molony

Sam is part of the marketing team at Mailshake. Sam's goal is to inspire people to not just "hang in there" but to thrive. When Sam's not publishing or promoting new content, you can find him playing sports and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.


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