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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. Innovation is a big part of how we address challenges as a species and at work. And is 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. Such innovations are often rooted in digital transformation particularly when we're talking about innovation at work. New computer applications, hardware and online services give us new ways to be better at work. Our technology stacks are growing and adapting all the time. We're improving efficiency and effectiveness, which for a tech-loving company like Weekly10 is all very exciting!  

However, 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 at work

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. 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. Innovation at work can be the difference between being the industry leading or 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 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. Promoting innovation at work 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.

2020's remote work boom is a great example. 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.

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. A 2% increase on the previous year.

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A lack of buy-in can quickly become a lack of engagement

If you're promoting innovation at work, 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 at work requires effective communication

If you want to succeed at promoting innovation at work, 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.

Read how to boost innovation at work by focusing on employee engagement, especially in a remote working world. Download your guide today 👇