If you want your business to become a thriving and open environment where each and every member of your team feels confident enough to contribute, you need to reward employees for ideas.
Truly innovative businesses know that this goes further than offering a literal, financial reward or bonus for “successful” ideas (although there is a place for this too!). Instead, it’s about embedding rewards into your Idea Management Process, so they can actively contribute towards strengthening your overall innovation strategy.
Interested to learn more about Idea Management Process first? Read our definitive guide to approaching Idea Management and driving innovation here.
Learning how to properly reward employees for ideas is an essential step in encouraging a culture of innovation that will benefit every single part of your organisation.
What is ideation?
Ideation is the first stage of the innovation process, where you cast the net wide to source the ideas and inspiration that you need in order to problem solve within your business.
Ideation can happen as a result of a specific prompt, i.e. you ask your team to brainstorm around a particular problem, or can occur organically, such as when your team encounter moments of friction throughout their working day.
From new hires to seasoned managers, each and every person within your team has a unique perspective to contribute, so it’s essential that you encourage idea generation from the moment that a new employee steps through the door. By making it clear that ideas are welcomed, you’re already setting up a positive and welcoming environment where the expectation is that you will reward employees for ideas.
You should encourage ideation by using a robust Idea Management software, so your team know where to put their ideas whenever and wherever they have them. After all, it’s impossible to reward employees for ideas if you’re not collecting them up!
Why is it important to reward ideas?
An essential part of ideation is to reward and recognise your team for contributing their ideas.
Importantly: this doesn’t only mean giving feedback for “good” or “successful” ideas. Instead, you want to reward employees for ideas that they have contributed at every stage. One early type of reward is simply engaging with the idea itself. Try to choose a platform where your team can also discuss and give feedback to each idea as it is submitted, so that everyone feels as though they are being given fair consideration.
Whenever a new idea is implemented, or even just after testing, it’s a good idea to report back the results to the entire company, including the person who first proposed the idea. This ensures both that the individual feels highlighted and included in the process, and demonstrates to the rest of your team that you reward employees for ideas, rather than taking the credit yourself.
Finally, accept that some types of rewards might look different across your business, and make sure that your incentives make participation both necessary and worthwhile for all your stakeholders, ambassadors and contributors. After all, you want everyone to participate. You may need to test and iterate the rewards that you offer over time, to make sure they’re optimised towards your entire team’s wants and needs.
How can I reward my team for their ideas?
There are many different ways to reward employees for ideas. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Recognition: Don’t underestimate the power of a “thank you”, both privately, and in public. You could even give a team member a card or a bunch of flowers. Think about establishing a culture where people have a chance to ‘shout out’ team members, either in emails or at meetings, so that everyone has a chance to have their moment in the sun.
- Monetary rewards: You could attach your existing bonus system to ideation, but be careful that this doesn’t promote a culture of competition rather than collaboration. Instead, think about how you might reward employees for ideas with smaller gestures such as gift cards or vouchers. You can link these to their general contribution, or even rank ideas based on employee feedback, so there’s a game element to getting involved in ideation.
- Celebration: If teamwork is at the center of your ideation process (and it should be), then take time in the year to reward the entire group for their participation. Parties, breakfasts, or even after work drinks are a way that everyone can benefit from one person’s achievements.
- Time perks: Who wouldn’t love an extra day of holiday, to use as they please. This is an underused and incredibly effective reward that employees genuinely appreciate.
- Perks: From a better desk chair to a free lunch, there are plenty of small ways of showing individual team members that you appreciate what they do on a day to day basis. You could even do a survey to ask what perks would most interest your team.
If you’re looking for more ways to reward your employees for ideas, come and talk to the innovation experts at Idea Drop. We’ve got tried and tested strategies for encouraging and rewarding ideation that can transform your business.