Waitrose engages employees in innovation to make significant productivity & financial savings

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Waitrose is using collaborative innovation software to power its employee engagement scheme, Partner Ideas, which seeks to capture ideas and innovation from 60,000 frontline partners.

Wazoku's Idea Spotlight Software-as-a-service (SaaS) will allow partners to contribute ideas on any aspect of Waitrose's operations. One idea has improved the way the audit team deal with temporary pricing tickets, halving the time taken to complete the task, while another saw the formatting and management of till receipts transformed, allowing Waitrose to save over £100k annually.

"The success of our Partner Ideas scheme goes to show that sometimes the truly great innovations can be as simple as making small changes to the tasks you do every day, rather than the big ideas which transform everything," said Stuart Eames, Operational Improvement Manager, Waitrose. "We've had more ideas submitted from just six stores in the first six weeks of using Wazoku, than we did in the last six months across the whole of Waitrose with our previous scheme."

Waitrose had previously launched The Good Suggestion Scheme as a way to engage employees in generating innovative ideas to drive the business forward. The scheme didn't work as well as hoped, with relatively low levels of idea generation and engagement. The system supporting The Good Suggestion Scheme was not fit for purpose, so Waitrose decided to re-launch the scheme as Partner Ideas, with its own logo, business owners and dedicated innovation management software to support it. After an extensive search, Waitrose decided to partner with Wazoku and use its collaborative innovation platform, Idea Spotlight.

Over the course of the pilot project, over 106 ideas were generated; in stark comparison to just a total of 13 original ideas in The Good Suggestion Scheme which involved the entire Waitrose network. The Partner Ideas pilot scheme has already seen ten Partner bonuses awarded to those who submitted ideas which were implemented. As the pilot was such a success, Waitrose has subsequently rolled out access to Wazoku's Idea Spotlight platform to all 60,000 Partners.

"By engaging our Partners with the right platform and process, we've managed to achieve significant productivity and financial savings," continued Stuart Eames. "We're excited to see what we can achieve when we role the scheme out to the entire Waitrose network."

Wazoku's Idea Spotlight allows an organisation to create internal or external communities for ideas, innovation, feedback and insight. The success of the pilot scheme was primarily down to it being run from a central, multi-tenant platform which allowed multiple users to engage at any time. The bespoke workflows within the system allowed the innovation team to capture ideas from around the business, evaluate, prioritise and select the best to implement. It also allowed Partners to vote and use the software as an internal social platform, where each user can see other's ideas, contribute and comment improvements and updates, increasing their success rate and quality. The system is also entirely scalable so continues to grow with Waitrose's business as required.

"Collaboration is essential to the idea generation process and Waitrose knows it now has the right platform to engage its Partners and let them collaborate on ideas together," said Simon Hill, CEO, Wazoku. "Waitrose has a long-held reputation for excellence in staff engagement and the Partner Ideas scheme will only add to that reputation with further innovation and fresh approaches."

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