Innovation in the workplace is all about looking to your employees for ideas and opportunities for improvement. Your employees are one of your organization’s most valuable assets. They are most familiar with its customers, processes, products and services; therefore, they’re a great source for innovative ideas.
Companies that embrace innovation in the workplace see increased competitiveness, more efficient use of resources and better staff retention. Yet, according to survey data, only 20 percent say their organization “offer(s) sufficient support to develop ideas.” Organizations looking to turn this around by fostering innovation must encourage creativity, empowerment and collaboration. Here’s how.
Fostering innovation in the workplace
- Adopt a flatter organizational structure: When you adopt a flatter organizational structure, you eliminate communication barriers between employees and management and empower employees to contribute ideas—regardless of rank or position. Consider polling employees or holding all staff meetings where problems are addressed and ideas are born. Pose simple “what if” questions. For instance, “What it we offered free shipping?” or “What if we eliminated the need for management approval on special orders?” Then watch the ideas pour in. You can reward participation with small gifts such as light-up key tags and stylus pens.
- Promote cross team collaboration: Encourage employees from all departments to come together for cross team collaboration—after all, great ideas don’t have to be department specific. Consider implementing a job swap where employees switch jobs for a day. Perhaps phone sales can take the floor, or shipping and receiving can work assembly. Provide some training basics but allow wiggle room for autonomy. Debrief to determine if tasks were performed differently and what improvements could be made.
- Go beyond the employee suggestion box: The employee suggestion box is an effective way of generating ideas, but you can kick it up a notch with a contest. Reward those who come up with the best ideas, like the most cost-saving, sales-generating, efficiency-gaining, etc. Bluetooth® speakers, flashlight power banks and infuser sport bottles make great prizes.
- Create collaboration spaces: Collaborating is difficult to do in confined spaces. Create collaboration spaces that are open, have good lighting and house comfy seating where staff can work together. This space should encompass white boards or chalkboards, sticky notes, markers, snacks and more.
Promote innovation in the workplace with one or more of these creativity-inspiring ideas. A greater competitive edge, increased efficiency and a bump to your bottom line await.