Engaged employees give their passion and loyalty to an organization – helping it to achieve the best possible results. Companies recognize the impact it can have on their performance, and a recent Deloitte report noted that organizations spend over $100 billion annually to improve employee engagement.

But traditional approaches to employee engagement are clearly not enough. 87 percent of employees remain disengaged, costing U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity, according to Gallup.

There is widespread apathy among the workforce and just 30% of workers are “engaged”; a figure which has barely changed over the past ten years. Employers, therefore, need to find new ways to impact the key drivers of engagement that are not being effectively addressed – connecting employees with the corporate strategy, transparency from leadership, interest in employee ideas, and making progress on meaningful work. So, how can you transform disengaged employees into highly engaged contributors that will help move your business forward?

Crowdsource ideas

It’s a universal truth that employees are more engaged when they feel more valued by their employer and that their input is sought and listened to by leadership. Engaging the employee-base in an innovation program is an effective way to do just this, giving employees a voice, increasing the feeling of inclusion and motivation, allowing them to contribute to issues related to the corporate strategy, and ultimately fostering a culture of engagement.

It’s for this reason that crowdsourced innovation, which is the concept of inspiring, collecting and accelerating ideas from employees at scale, has emerged as a powerful way to increase employee engagement across the business. Not only does it help to discover actionable ideas to solve challenges and grow the business, but it gives an organization’s workforce a way to be more involved and invested in taking the company to the next level.

Foster a culture of inclusion and diversity

There is no quicker way to deliver a message of culture change than by inviting all employees to participate in an innovation campaign or “challenge” that addresses an area of strategic importance to the business. Involving everyone – no matter their age, location or job title – fosters a positive culture where everyone feels valued and motivated to perform, and it is this concept of inclusion at scale that is at the very core of crowdsourced innovation.

Further, the more people who have a voice in the company’s innovation program, the greater the diversity of participants, their experiences and their ideas, which has been proven to lead to a higher quality of ideas and better outcomes. In fact, of those program managers who track it, 31 percent of those we surveyed as part of the 2018 State of Crowdsourced Innovation Report indicated that “winning” ideas selected for action from an innovation challenge are submitted by someone outside the group or business unit sponsoring the challenge most, nearly every, or every time.

Engage, communicate, repeat

Using innovation to promote a culture of employee engagement is a virtuous circle. Asking employees for ideas is a driver of engagement; and communicating action on employee ideas creates even more engagement, resulting in more productive employees that are willing and motivated to engage and contribute again in the future. And it’s important to seize that appetite to continue to contribute to ensure you sustain enthusiasm and really make the most of what is undoubtedly your most valuable asset.

When a corporate culture is designed not just to generate ideas but to foster continual engagement and inclusion, the results are dramatic. Companies that take this approach are shown to generate more, actionable ideas, and then implement those ideas in a way that generates growth.

Of course, coming up with new ideas to solve business challenges is the core goal of innovation programs, but the journey is just as important as the destination. Using this process to engage the workforce will, in itself, move the needle on business results through increased productivity and reduced turnover – whether an organization’s strategic focus is on customer experience, digital transformation, product development, or driving efficiency and cost savings. With these core KPIs at stake, it’s clear why many of the world’s most successful enterprises are making crowdsourced innovation an integral part of their employee engagement strategy.