Five Drivers of Employee Engagement, and How Crowdsourced Innovation Can Help

Disengaged employees are costly. A recent Deloitte report notes that organizations spend over $100 billion annually to improve employee engagement. Despite that, 87% of employees remain disengaged and cost U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity, according to Gallup.

It is important to note that disengaged employees are not necessarily poor performers—but they’re indifferent to their organization, less productive, and at risk of leaving the business. This means they are not giving their best effort or motivated to drive company performance. Traditional engagement improvement methods such as annual reviews are seemingly no longer breaking through, and companies need to find creative new ways to drive engagement.

Many are turning to crowdsourced innovation, the process of inspiring, collecting, and accelerating ideas from employees at scale, to boost engagement. With this technique offering huge potential to drive valuable interactions within the workforce, in this article, we map out five key drivers of employee engagement and illustrate how crowdsourced innovation can help.

  1. Create a connection to the company direction/strategy.

It is widely acknowledged that employees are more engaged when they feel connected to the company direction and strategy—and crowdsourced innovation initiatives provide a great platform and opportunity to clearly communicate and reinforce the business goals, as well as actively engage employees by asking for ideas on how to reach these. Furthermore, recent Spigit research shows the most impactful and successful ideas are the ones that align with the company’s business strategy, demonstrating that getting this right will lead to greater business results.

The objective here should be to ensure every single employee has a clear understanding of the company’s strategy and how the employee’s job fits into that strategy. This should guide individuals on how to generate value for the company and empower them to influence the future direction of the business by sharing their ideas.

  1. Make progress on meaningful work.

Research by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer shows that making progress on meaningful work is the most critical factor in an employee’s engagement. Crowdsourced innovation is an effective way for your organization to source insights and ideas from all employees to identify where difficulties lie and what prevents them from making progress on a day-to-day basis. Commitment from business leaders to act on ideas is demonstrated when action is taken to remove the existing roadblocks to progress. Employees need to know they are being listened to,  that overcoming barriers to their performance is a priority, and that they are recognized as crucial to growing the company.

  1. Build leadership trust and transparency.

It’s proven that where there’s employee trust in an organization, there’s good performance. And trust is strongly connected to organizational transparency—through sharing information and not hiding problems. Crowdsourced innovation is an effective, transparent process in which all employees can be invited to participate and have an equal voice in contributing to solving key business challenges. Trust can be further built by establishing a repeatable process to ensure employees feel continuously empowered and informed of the company priorities and challenges.

  1. Recognize skills and contributions.

The process of crowdsourced innovation is gamified to engage employees, and it offers a mechanism to recognize and reward the skills and contributions of those who actively participate. It is this recognition that is shown to motivate employees to pursue the entrepreneurial goals of the organization. It is important to offer a mix of both intrinsic and extrinsic recognition mechanisms—whether this is throughout the life cycle of an innovation campaign, or “challenge,” or within performance reviews.

  1. Increase connections to others.

A sense of belonging is an important factor to drive an employee’s engagement in the business, and crowdsourced innovation can help to foster this environment of inclusion by helping to find and connect employees across widely distributed teams. It can be used to identify those with similar or complementary goals, interests, or skills, facilitating networking and collaboration on ideas across boundaries and helping employees to feel part of a broader cross-functional community. Increasing these connections and bringing diverse teams—who may have never connected in the past—together will also develop a diverse knowledge base, which will ultimately produce better business results.

Having a highly engaged workforce provides a huge competitive advantage and will help the organization to achieve its objectives—whether that’s a greater focus on customer experience, digital transformation, product development, or driving efficiency and cost savings. Employee engagement is always going to be a top priority for business leaders, and crowdsourced innovation is one practical way to make significant improvements in this area and drive a cultural change.

Scott Raskin is President and Chief Executive Officer of Spigit. He sets the vision, direction, and strategy for Spigit as the market leader in innovation management, and has led the company through several years of record sales and customer growth. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors.