10 Effective Systems For Ensuring Your Employees’ Ideas Are Heard

Whether it happens while participating in meetings or partaking in company surveys, the best ideas happen when there’s plenty of room for everyone to share. This means that businesses at the helm of true innovation provide each employee with the chance to have their voice heard. However, this can become more difficult to ensure as your company grows larger.

Below, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council discuss some systems that companies can put in place to ensure all employees are getting their ideas heard, no matter the business’s size.

1. Incorporate Feedback Loops

We’ve grown from a handful of employees who could all speak at our virtual staff meetings to over 175 employees throughout the country. But we still manage to gather feedback and input from all employees by incorporating constant feedback loops in every meeting and discussion across all levels of the company. This includes incorporating a lot of EOS methods—such as segues—at the beginning of our meetings, utilizing surveys and suggestion boxes, rotating leadership roles and creating open forums to give feedback, regardless of position or tenure. – Bill Gerber, AccountingDepartment.com

2. Regularly Ask Employees To Note Problem Areas

Most employees have a unique perspective that allows them to easily spot problems that the higher-ups wouldn’t notice. To take advantage of this, you simply need to codify the process of listening to each employee, no matter what “tier” they’re on in the org chart. This just means that every supervisor regularly asks their workers, “Do you notice any inefficiencies or problems with our company? And if so, do you have any suggestions?” The supervisors will have their own managers who should ask for a report of everyone’s answers to this question so that the golden-nugget ideas naturally float up to the top! – Jonathan Sparks, Sparks Law

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3. Adopt A Bottom-Up Approach To Innovation

In traditional corporate innovation, ideas and decisions are taken from business decision-makers and innovation experts. What corporations are failing to do with this top-down approach is leverage their most valuable asset: their employees. In addition, in many cases, ideas that come from management are not solving problems that employees face in their everyday work lives. When companies get larger and want to stay innovative, they should adopt a bottom-up innovation approach. The intrinsically motivated employee is empowered with the necessary tools and support to validate ideas. Such a program is a successful tactic that puts employees in the driver’s seat and turns them into the CEOs of their ideas. – Dave Hengartner, rready

4. Utilize Online Forums

One system that can be implemented to help employees voice their ideas in a constructive way is to create an online forum with voting capabilities tied to an incentive structure to reward winning ideas. Creating a forum that allows any employee to pitch their idea without the pressure of in-person presentations can encourage more participation, increasing the chances of finding a brilliant new process or product offering. – Richard Fong, Senior Strong

5. Create Opportunities For Open Discussion

One powerful way to make sure your employees get their ideas heard is to allow an open discussion during your monthly company meeting. We have a meeting every third Thursday of the month. During this event, we go over the brand updates and introduce new employees. At the end of the session, we give everyone on our team 20 to 30 minutes to ask questions, talk about their ideas and engage with other people on the team. We’ve had tremendous success with this strategy, and I firmly believe it can encourage your team to speak up too. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

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6. Incorporate Various Ways Of Participating

You first of all have to convince employees that you truly want their input. I think it’s best to give people a choice in communicating. You should always give everyone a chance to speak up at meetings. However, you also want to give quieter people a voice too, so it’s important to have at least one channel for written suggestions. This could be a forum, a social media group, a channel on Slack or other software you use for communicating. If you want to encourage people to speak up, you also need to be responsive. You can’t always put everyone’s ideas into practice, but you can respond in a way that lets them know you appreciate their contribution and will give it serious consideration. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

7. Use Roundtables For In-Depth Discussions

For larger companies, roundtable discussions are nearly impossible for presenting innovative ideas but can be helpful for discussing ideas more in depth and fleshing them out. To help facilitate this, larger companies should create a system or have a platform available for employees to submit their ideas. I’ve seen everything from a dedicated Slack channel to a forum built specifically for a company. From there, a smaller group can review initial ideas to help narrow them down. The narrowed-down ideas can then be presented to a larger group to discuss details. This allows everyone an equal chance to create and submit their ideas. – Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

8. Schedule One-On-One Meetings

Make sure your department heads stay on top of these meetings and definitely have them during times when hearing ideas from your team is most important, such as during a big project. Since they’ll be targeted in this example, they should take no longer than a few minutes. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

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9. Designate ‘Receivers Of Feedback’

It’s often that larger companies experience a breakdown in communication because their staff don’t know who to turn to. They might have plenty of valuable feedback up their sleeves, but they don’t know who to give it to for it to be actionable. The size of the company causes a dilution of communication channels until they end up completely fruitless. One system to combat this is to give each department a staff member that is designated as the receiver of feedback. They will then either resolve the issue themselves or escalate it as necessary. You may even choose to have two designated staff members for this role, as that decreases the risk of personal feelings getting in the way of professionalism. – Nick Venditti, StitchGolf

10. Provide An Open Idea Box

The importance of having a system in place to ensure all employees are getting their ideas heard is crucial. Whether it’s a company-wide idea box or a more formal suggestion system, there are many ways to get everyone involved with your company’s vision. One way is to have an open idea box where employees can drop ideas and discuss them with others. Another option is to use a more formal suggestion system where ideas are submitted and voted on by the team before they’re implemented. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC