The role of employee buy-in when trying to be an innovative business
Creative problem solving is one of the big things that set human beings apart from other animals.
From trading in stone knives to those made of bronze to figuring out how to send mail electronically, innovating is a big part of how we address challenges as a species and why we are where we are today.
We are in the midst of the most innovative period in human history with new technologies, discoveries and processes being developed almost daily that in one way or another are designed to better our lives.
Such innovations are often rooted in digital transformation particularly when we're talking about organisational innovation. New computer applications, hardware and online services are constantly giving us new ways to approach how we do things in the workplace. Our technology stacks are growing and adapting all the time to improve efficiency and effectiveness, which for a tech-loving company like Weekly10 is all very exciting!
However, when you get caught up promoting innovation in the workplace, it can become very easy to forget the people on the ground - the end-users who will make or break the success of your latest project. Overlooking employee buy-in when you're pushing to implement new technology is often a fatal mistake.
Let's take a look at why.
The benefits of innovation and digital transformation
We've all heard the expression, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But when you're a business leader trying to succeed in a competitive industry, that's the last piece of wisdom you should be trotting out. Just imagine if email had never caught on. People at work would still be getting all their daily correspondence from an old-fashioned mail room, and inboxes would be an actual, physical nightmare. It sends a shiver down my spine.
Whether it's working faster or with more flexibility, collaborating with colleagues on the other side of the world or using virtual check-ins to build a culture of feedback, new technology brings with it the potential to revolutionise the way we work. So promoting innovation in the workplace can literally be the difference between being the leading business in your industry, and folding in the second quarter.
The right technology can turn what was once time-consuming but essential busywork into a few clicks in a specific application. For example, making heads or tails of information from employee surveys used to take forever, and was often very expensive. But now, platforms like Weekly10 use timely check-ins that put drawn out employee surveys to shame, and our machine learning algorithms produce bespoke reports from the data you provide. Not only does this accelerate the whole process, but a good AI can spot connections that the human eye might miss.
Employee buy-in is essential for changing workplace culture
Culture is the very fabric of the workplace. If you've ever replaced a carpet or re-upholstered a sofa, then you know a simple change of fabric can make things look wholly unrecognisable. Promoting innovation in the workplace oftentimes means making significant changes to company culture, whether it's a new technology, a shift in management style, or a change in the way we discuss issues like mental health.
2020's remote work boom is a great example. Before the year of lockdowns, research by groups like Buffer found that remote work was extremely popular with those who practised it. Their 2019 State of Remote Work report found that 99% of respondents would like to continue working remotely to at least some extent for the rest of their careers.Â
In Buffer's 2020 report, their results for this question were almost identical. On top of that, 97% said they would recommend remote work to others, which is a 2% increase on the previous year. This, combined with how successfully it's been implemented over the last several months, has led to many to believe that remote work is here to stay.
In fact, our own research conducted in the legal sector shows that the majority of remote legal workers are either just as productive at home as they are in the office, if not more so. The successful uptake of remote work by employees across many different sectors shows just how important staff buy-in is for successfully implementing digital transformation in the workplace.
A lack of buy-in can quickly become a lack of engagement
If you're promoting innovation in the workplace, a lack of employee interest can cause a lot of issues down the line. Take our check-in, for instance. It's great for getting insight into how individual employees are doing, but a large part of our platform's benefit stems from using that data to understand the broad trends in your organisation. But if a lot of your employees aren't bothering to complete their check-ins, then your flow of data is going to have some huge gaps.
The problem is that, if a piece of technology is really useful, you'll want to embed it right into the company culture. As that happens, these new tools become more central and harder to avoid. So employees who haven't bought into these workplace innovations will inevitably struggle in their roles as new tools become more essential.
Say, for instance, you want to make Slack your team's new direct messaging tool, but some of your employees just aren't that interested. They're less likely to use any of the channels you set up, and as Slack becomes a more central part of your daily routine, they're more likely to miss out on important conversations or bits of information.
Proper innovation requires effective communication
If you want to succeed at promoting innovation in the workplace, then it's important to keep employees in the loop. Your workers are more likely to be put off by new technology if you just dump it on them, so try to ease them into it. Highlight the benefits of using new tools, provide straight-forward tutorials, and make sure whatever technology you implement is accessible to even your less tech-savvy staff.
But remember that effective communication goes both ways, and it's important to listen to feedback if you want digital innovations to work out. It's worth trialling new tools with a reliable team before you go rolling it out across the whole company. After all, what seems like an amazing idea to you might only be a massive inconvenience to everyone else.
To learn more about how Weekly10 supports employee engagement, or to find out about the latest innovations gripping the working world, head on over to our blog page today!