Innovation is the driving force behind much organizational success. Innovative ideas can come from anyone in an organization, but the organization needs to be listening to hear them. That means listening to everyone, including workers who are not employees.
In our research comparing independent workers (contractors, freelancers, etc.) with regular employees, we found independent workers to be notably more innovative than the majority of employees, and almost as innovative as high-potential employees (Figure 1).
Innovation was measured with behaviors like risk-taking and challenging the status quo. Organizations that choose to enlist the help of independent workers might find them to be natural innovators.
Yet innovative ideas can only be harvested from the workforce (independent workers and employees) if organizations have a way of listening for them.
Employee listening programs offer a critical way for organizations to discover new ideas. In addition to tried-and-true techniques such as annual employee surveys, organizations are increasingly turning to methods such as social analytics to capture the innovative ideas of all workers. In fact, social analytics may offer an especially good way of capturing the voice of remote workers, including independent workers. According to our Amplifying Employee Voice report, remote workers are more willing to voice their opinions when internal social analytics is the listening mechanism that’s used.
Social analytics is the analysis of employee content already published on internal social networks, and enables listening without any additional effort needed from workers. Postings, comments, conversations and online collaboration events on internal social platforms provide a rich source of listening data from which organizations can glean innovative ideas.
Find out what employees think about these and other listening programs.