“We cannot solve our problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Small changes can deliver big benefits
Only 25% of UK employees feel they have the scope to learn and problem-solve in their jobs compared to an EU average of 39%. What’s more, half of the employees in most SMEs say they're under-utilised and feel they could make a bigger contribution to the success of the business.
By empowering your staff to be more independent in the workplace, your business could benefit from higher levels of innovation and, in turn, bring a more creative approach to your business practices.
Effective leadership, ideas-sharing, staff recognition, skills development opportunities and workforce diversity are all significant factors to consider towards creating a happier, more productive workforce.
Happier, healthier staff
A Swedish survey has shown a clear link between workplace innovation practices and the happiness and well-being of staff. Organisations showed a 21% decrease in personnel turnover and a 24% reduction in absence.
Productivity goes up
Research from across the US and Europe shows workplace innovation can increase productivity by up to 30%.
A lower proportion of UK employees (25%) report they have the scope to learn and problem-solve in their jobs compared to an EU average of 39% and higher performances in Denmark (60%) and Netherlands (64%).
Fresh ideas deliver results
There is a strong association between innovation and the autonomy that workers have to control their work demands. This coupled with more freedom for learning and problem-solving increases the innovation levels within a workforce.
A Dutch study suggests that research and technology-led activity accounts for only 25% of innovation; the remaining 75% of successful innovation is generated by changing managerial, organisational and work practices at an enterprise level.
People. Place. Practice
Innovation is essential for the long-term growth of any company. To successfully implement innovation, you need to know exactly what makes an innovative organization and how this innovation contributes to company growth.
Workplace innovation cannot just be seen as another “initiative” or latest fab, it must be systematically adapted within workplace practices in order to facilitate the employee-led innovation throughout the organisation.
Here ways to bring innovation into your organization and to pave the way for more creative ideas:
Give your employees a sense of freedom
An innovative organisation needs to allow its employees flexibility at work and autonomy to execute their day to day tasks. This will allow the employee to feel more valued and allow more room to “think outside the box” in order to contribute to the creative process of the organisation.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast every time. Unless the culture is in place it’s difficult to make progress on the innovation front.”
2. Provide your team with the resources to implement innovative ideas
You cannot rely on the idea alone. It is imperative that there is also resources and time made available to ensure those ideas have a chance to move from idea to fruition. You should ensure you invest as a company in an R&D department or at the very least an internal innovation team.
3. Invest your time in the creative nourishment of your workers
Remember, even the best ideas will fall by the wayside if time isn’t allowed to develop them. It’s important to lead by example and engage with employees. Demonstrate ways to find creativity, or dedicate a day to workshop and brainstorm ideas for an upcoming project and ensure that the ideas are aligned with the overall business objectives.
Google allocates 20% of its time to nurture innovation by allowing their employees to devote this time to side projects.
4. Don’t focus only on R&D
Innovative thinking and ideas need not be restricted to the R& D department. Each and every department needs to be included to ensure a culture of innovation, as each department within your company will bring a unique perspective with regards to ideation.
5. Allow your employees a chance to fail
Allow your employees the opportunity to fail. Many new ideas are unchartered territory, and not all of them will stick as a success. Giving employees the scope to try out an idea and the structure in place to know when to draw a line under will give the employee confidence to test the waters and think beyond the normal boundaries of their job.
6. Acknowledge the contribution of your employees
Employees feel valued when their efforts are recognised. If you want to promote a culture of innovation in your organization, you need to implement an incentive-based policy. Such a policy will make your employees feel appreciated for their innovative efforts and it will pave the way to a culture of innovation in your organization.