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The silent struggle: Why employees hesitate to share ideas

Recently, I (that is, Summer, one of Parkway’s copywriters) went out on a whim and pitched an idea to the team at Parkway. This was a pretty big deal to me; I was confident that my proposal was strong and achievable, but I also feared it would get rejected. Fortunately, our leadership was very open to my idea, and I’m pleased to say Parkway is currently working on something neat that you’ll have to stay tuned for. But, I digress.

You have good ideas. You don’t have to worry about sharing them.

That’s what leadership said to me at the end of my presentation. Those words meant a lot—because that hasn’t always been my experience. I enjoy creative problem-solving and thinking about ways to improve things, but that doesn’t mean bringing those ideas to leadership is easy. I’m not alone in this feeling either. Surveys show that anywhere between 63% and 85% of employees are often too apprehensive to present ideas, concerns or opinions to leadership, especially if they can be perceived as negative. So, I wanted to be a little vulnerable and talk about why I (and other employees) have these feelings.

1. We Don’t Get Asked

And if we do, it’s not often. According to one survey, nearly half of employees said their employer doesn’t ask them for ideas or input on a regular basis. From my perspective, management should want to know how their employees are feeling and what their viewpoint is. I think a lot of employees believe that if they aren’t asked to share suggestions or bring up issues their employer isn’t interested in hearing them. That can make an employee question how an employer sees them and their worth.

2. Progress Isn’t Always Appreciated

Don’t get me wrong, I get the mentality behind “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” I just happen to be a big fan of forward-thinking, and I’d wager I’m not alone in that. I’ve seen a fair share of good ideas or suggestions get passed over for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s for valid reasons; employees may lack the means to accomplish an idea or the business may have already tried those same tactics. What inflicts a direct hit to employee morale and engagement are the instances where concepts are shot down because, “This is how we’ve always done it.” When employees hear these words or some other version of them, it’s hard not to think anything besides, “What’s the point?”

3. There’s a Lot of Failure to Launch

At least, it seems that way from my side of the discussion. These are the situations where a team member presents an idea and management likes it, but nothing seems to ever come from it. There are a lot of different reasons why this might happen, such as a lack of skills, inefficient resources or poor timing. Again, legit reasons for an idea not to take off. However, if every new idea garners the same lack of results, employees might interpret the response as intentional, even if it’s not.

The Power of Passionate Ideas

At the end of the day, employees with ideas are passionate about what they do and where they work. Having members of a team that care is a good thing! Ideas, no matter where they come from, are ultimately how companies innovate and grow. That being said, we don’t expect our leaders to accept every idea we have. We’re not the ones in the driver’s seat, and we’re not trying to be when we offer up new concepts. We’re just excited about new possibilities and the good things that could come from a little change! That’s why I’m really thankful to be here at Parkway; I can always share insight or ideas to leadership without having those anxieties and know that what I bring to the table is valued.

Summer Phillipson / Copywriter
Summer balances a knack for telling a story (thanks to a stint in journalism) with copy that tells readers exactly what they need to know. Her experience, which includes everything from industrial ad copy to small business websites, is evident in every project she takes on for Parkway’s clients.