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Crowdsourcing: The best thing since sliced bread for better employee retention

And the ideal solutions to your business problems

Vaccination policies will need a once over and consideration as to whether they are required, and more importantly checking if they are in fact legal. The debate and conversation about vaccination continues after some government mandates were lifted. What do your team think about vaccinations now the pressure has come off to comply with mandates?

The employee voice can be a useful tool for understanding what your working environment is really like, what their opinions are to policies and how well the products are really performing in the marketplace. Information you get from your employees gives you colour and depth to your financial numbers. A financial report without commentary is pretty boring and hard to understand right?

Pandemic times has shown the true value of employee consultation. From wage subsidies and changing hours, through to vaccination and working from home. The employee voice is an important one to listen to and act upon. Ignore at your own peril, as many trying to be heard will simply give up and take their ideas and views elsewhere. Or worse still, they submit a personal grievance, and your headspace gets filled with conversations about who said what and how much it may cost.

As we head into what will be a difficult winter for many businesses and families, I am aware many are considering how to be more productive and how to ‘do more with less’. The media have moved on from the housing crisis and now it is about the economy and rising costs. I saw a great quote recently but can’t recall who said it

“if you are only hearing it for the first time from the 6pm news, then its too late, you are already behind and need to get your information elsewhere”.

Rising costs and interest rates have been predicted from some time; it was just a matter of when. 

The employee voice is invaluable in these challenging times. Some of the best ideas and innovations come to the fore in challenging times. So now is the time to be doing your employee consultation differently. Ever thought of internal crowdsourcing?

Your employees are more likely to have the solution you need to stop that customer drop off after 6 months for example. If you are relying upon exit interviews to find out what is wrong or what needs to change, like the 6pm news, you are too late.

In the HR world, there are more and more articles emerging about “stay interviews”. These are the conversations and interviews you have when an employee has an offer elsewhere and you are trying to convince them to stay. Again, too late. Your employment relationship is like a marriage, if you invest in it from the beginning then your employees won’t want to even consider other offers and the aggressive tactics of recruiters.

So how can a crowdsourcing approach work for your business and employment relationships?

  1. Explain the problem and the desired outcome well, and then hand it over. When you do this, your team will have a sense of purpose and focus. This can re-energise them and give them a sense of ownership of solving the problem and implementing it.
  2. Depending on the problem, you may not need an external consultant to do the heavy lifting. The consultant can stick to facilitating your team to solve the problem and sharing their specialist expertise. That means more dollars staying in your pocket and the employees acquire valuable learnings.
  3. Solving the problem becomes a shared responsibility. It is not just up to the manager or leader to make it all happen. We all know that if it was up to you that it would take 3x as long and cost more.
  4. You get better solutions and innovation if you have a diverse group involved in problem solving..  Research by Professor Scott E Page has proven that diversity in problem solving settings provide a broader range of solutions and greater creativity.  
  5. Your team feel part of the business when they get to see how their solutions impact others. Engineers, builders, planners, and other specialities involved in construction often talk about the sense of pride they get from seeing the projects completed knowing they had contributed. The same goes for the implementation of solutions like a new checklist that results in positive customer feedback.

Many employers we work with cringe at the mention of employee consultation. But I urge you to hold back on that cringe and instead get excited about the possible out of the box solutions you may get.

How is crowdsourcing different from consultation?  Well, it is quite a bit.   

Consultation usually requires you to present the potential ideas and solutions, that the employee’s comment and provide on.

Crowdsourcing is about presenting the problem and asking the employees to come up with the possible solutions.

The internet was built using crowdsourcing and software code or apps are often open source. Great minds from all around the globe contributed to the creation of the internet. Crowdsourcing is powerful and can quickly help you to identify those people who are truly talented and engaged in solving your problem. Crowdsourcing competitions and projects have been a recruitment strategy used in Silicon Valley for years now.   

Other industries are also tapping into crowdsourcing by using competitions to get the best ideas and solutions and the prize can be a top job, recognition and/or money. For example – do you remember the Arnotts Shapes crackers flavour competition a few years ago?

The great strength of crowdsourcing is that those who participate don’t have to be an expert.  It brings diversity of ideas using knowledge or experiences from other industries and regions.  For example:

have you asked your customer service officer or receptionist how to make your customer letters more interesting? or are you only relying on your marketing experts?

It seems silly to be cutting your customer service officers out of that work when they are dealing with customers all day every day. Their ideas and solutions may save you thousands. But how would you know if you simply go through the motions of employee consultation or people stick to what they know.

Now that you have your forecasts and budgets sorted for the next 6 months, and before you launch into cost-cutting or a restructure, you may like to consider using crowdsourcing to find more effective solutions to your problems.

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times that employees have mentioned to me that they are looking for a new job because managers and business leaders are making changes that don’t make sense or don’t work.

Just in case you are getting crowdsourcing confused with co-creation, another recent buzzword then this article will help to illustrate the differences between crowdsourcing and co-creation.

Reach out to our team if you are interested in taking a crowdsourcing approach to your problems and next change project so you can keep your great people for longer. We are ready and waiting to stretch our crowdsourcing facilitation abilities with your team. We can even join your existing HR team to lend a helping hand.