An organization in today’s market can only stay relevant if it inspires innovation and creativity in the workplace. How well does your organization align with this approach?
Here's what you need to know about 5 ways you can inspire employee innovation in the workplace:
- You need to provide people with opportunities to create something new.
- You can inspire innovation in the workplace by setting frameworks for creativity.
- With personal projects, your employees can work on the things that matter to them while improving the company.
Innovation in today’s workplace is an essential quality in any employee, no matter their position inside the organization. Long gone are the days when the employees’ only job was to sit on the conveyer belt in a plant and do mundane operations. Today’s types of jobs all require:
- Being fully-present
With that in mind, companies have had to adjust their workplace conditions. It is no longer about employees doing the 9-5 shift. It is about having the best possible workplace that inspires employees toward innovation and creativity.
That’s not always easy, and why we’re writing this article with five ways you can inspire innovation in your workplace.
The 5 ways you can inspire innovation in your company
Companies today that fail to innovate and create risk falling behind the competition. That’s why it’s essential to create a workplace that inspires innovation. To stay competitive as an employer, you need your employees to develop innovations.
The first way you can inspire innovation in the workplace is by enabling your employees to read books.
To stay competitive as an employer, you need your employees to develop innovations.
There are multiple ways you can do this:
- Have a company library. The easiest thing you can do is create a library of books in your company. If you’re strapped for office space, your library doesn’t have to be an entire dedicated room. You can set up shelves around the office and have books on top of them that employees can borrow.
- Enable free book-buying from platforms. Many people don’t read physical books and prefer to read them in an e-format on Kindle and like-devices. That’s why you can provide your employees with a monthly book budget. This budget allows them to buy books via platforms such as Amazon. Employees can order any book they want as long as it’s connected to the business’s success.
- Set up learning days. The last thing you can do in this category is to set up learning days. With learning days, you can dedicate one day every month where the employees won’t do anything but learn (read a book). This way, you will ensure that your employees gain new skills and knowledge by reading business- and skill-related books.
Allowing people to fail
The books provide the input, but there also needs to be space for people to try out new ideas. Innovation and creativity only come from safe spaces. If an employee is afraid that they might get fired if they fail at something, well, then they won’t even try to innovate.
Your company needs to encourage a culture that allows people to fail and learn from those experiences. That will let all employees know they can try out new things without the fear of getting fired.
Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx and a self-made billionaire, stated that a lot of her success comes from a question that her father used to ask her every day at the dinner table: “What did you fail at today?”
That was her father’s way of encouraging Sara to try different approaches. To innovate and create something new. You can’t create something new if you don’t try. Her father knew the importance of innovation and creativity and pushed Sara to embrace trying new things.
You need to provide people with opportunities to create something new. And that leads us to the next way you can inspire innovation in the workplace.
Encouraging personal projects
One of the ways how you can provide opportunities for people to create and innovate is to encourage them to do personal projects. With personal projects, your employees can work on the things that matter to them while improving the company. They will result in them providing innovations to the entire workplace.
Google was one of the pioneers in encouraging personal projects for their staff. They had a “20 percent rule” that stated that every employee should invest 20% of their time into creating and innovating personal projects. Google ended up with Gmail and AdSense because of the “20% rule.” The only problem with Google was that the employees ended up following the “120% rule,” where they would work 100% on their formal tasks and then spend an additional 20% of their time on their personal projects.
Encouraging personal projects is a great way to provide opportunities to your employees so they can innovate and create something new. You never know; you might end up with a product or service that will be a golden goose for your business.
Creating office-wide sharing sessions
Sometimes, when you encourage personal projects in the workplace, the people doing them realize that they can’t do them alone. They recognize they need people with different experiences and expertise to help them with their projects.
Encouraging personal projects is a great way to provide opportunities to your employees so they can innovate and create something new.
This is why the fourth way of inspiring innovation and creativity in the workplace is to create office-wide sharing sessions. Employees can share what they’ve been working on in their time via office-wide sharing sessions and then see if somebody from the company can help them with the project.
Employees who aren’t currently working on a personal project can sign up to participate in someone else’s project and contribute their experience and expertise in a specific field. You can even have a board where employees can post their projects and have other employees sign up for those particular projects.
Setting frameworks for creativity
And last but not least, you can inspire innovation in the workplace by setting frameworks for creativity.
A boundary will set a framework for creativity. Being innovative doesn’t just happen in a bubble or when you tell people to “think freely.” It’s about setting a direction toward what the people need to think about.
Imagine telling someone to innovate something in the workplace. That’s much harder than telling someone to innovate something regarding improving team meetings. The latter is:
- Setting the right expectations for the employees
The best way to set up frameworks for creativity is to put the relevant problems in front of your people.
In a scene from Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon solves the blackboard problem. Similarly, write the problem on a board where people will see it daily. That means that the employees will see it every day, resulting in it rolling around somewhere in their subconsciousness as an essential problem that needs to be solved.
This will result in many employees thinking about a relevant problem in the organization, leading to a solution to the problem through innovation and creativity.
Inspire innovation in your organization
An organization in today’s market can only stay relevant if it inspires innovation and creativity in the workplace. To do so, the organization will have to implement multiple elements of invention in the workplace, such as:
- Encouraging people to read books
- Creating personal projects
- Allowing them to fail
- Creating office-wide sharing sessions
- Setting frameworks for creativity and project development
If you need more information regarding innovation and creativity in the workplace, read The Importance of Making Room for Creativity in our blog section.