Culture & Change

How To Boost Workplace Innovation

Apr 12, 2019 | 307 views

It's important to feel challenged by your work and it's not just about asking your boss for any old challenge. As not all challenges lead to motivation and innovation.

A recent survey from global staffing firm Robert Half bears this out. Of the workers polled, 87 percent said a company’s reputation for innovation is important to them when evaluating potential employers. So when that brilliant financial analyst evaluates your job offer, sure they’ll be considering the overall compensation and benefits package. But alongside that, they’ll be looking at how creative and progressive your organization is. The problem is, there are barriers that can stand in the way of being more innovative.

So, What Workplace Technology Should Do For People?

From time clocks to self-service human-resources platforms that allow people to manage their payroll and benefits directly, technology in the workplace is being adapted to benefit the human experience. However, these positive developments have only scratched the surface of what is truly possible.

Technology in an organization today must enable people to be more productive, efficient and innovative; stay connected internally and externally; and feel safe and cared for. It should facilitate the comfortable and expeditious flow of people, ideas and emotions.

In the world we now live in, poor or outdated technology limits human experience in significant ways and exposes people and organizations to cybercrime.

Here are some things you can do to find the kind of challenge that spurs innovation and creativity:

Bring people together: Innovation requires collaboration. Don’t be afraid to promote socializing. One trend in workplace design is to create hubs where workers can hang out and hash out ideas. The design of the office should help the salience network prioritise creative work habits, ranging from focus to rest. Think cozy corners or intimate conference rooms equipped with whiteboards, AV equipment, comfortable chairs and plenty of coffee.

Find the challenge sweet spot: The relationship between how challenging individuals find a task and innovation performance is not a linear one. People's innovation output doesn't simply increase as the challenge increases. When people feel as if they can do their work with their eyes closed, that is, with no sense of challenge, innovation output is poor. The other extreme is also true. When people are faced with enormous challenges where they feel they don't have the skills or resources to tackle it, innovation performance also declines. Innovation can’t take root if employees are weighed down by their daily tasks and the need to put in long hours. People are at their most creative when they’re busy but not overwhelmed. Make sure your company or department is adequately staffed so workers have the mental space and energy to be inventive. The key is to find the right balance. This involves working on challenging projects that offer a good match between your skills and the resources you have available, such as the time in which you have to tackle it.

Be available: No more managers frequently holed up in your own offices. Have time to be more visible and interact with your team. For your staff to be truly innovative, they need your cooperation, counsel and participation. Make sure you’re accessible and approachable. Take it a step further and offer words of encouragement. Let them know you’re available and happy to have them bounce ideas off of you.

If leveraged correctly, workplace has the ability to positively influence and support innovation, rather than push it away. It can help engage, recognize and protect those we care about and the people who work in organizations.