- How to Develop a Business Strategy That Integrates Innovation Into Your Workplace
- 3 Things To Consider When Innovating Your Business Model
- Jumpstart Your Business With Innovative Products and Services
- 4 Questions to Ask Yourself to Improve Your Business Process Efficiency
- 7 Innovations To Get More Bang For Your Marketing Bucks
- Can New Technology Give You An Edge Over Your Competition?
- 3 Ways To Innovate Your Supply Chain
- Empower Your People To Unlock Your Innovation Potential
When times are tough and sales are slow, managing your people may be one of the most challenging parts of your business. The social and economic lockdown that grips many parts of the world from COVID-19 has forced businesses to lay off thousands of employees.
Even in tough times, how you manage your organisation’s people can be a great place to let innovation spring to life. Unlocking that innovation is perhaps all the more essential for your business to stay on its feet when cash is tight or sales are slow.
In this post – the final in our series on 8 Ways To Innovate Your Business – let’s take a look at how your people and your workplace culture impact your organisational innovation.
Innovate corporate-sponsored development
For those of you still tricking into offices and workplaces while under economic and social lockdown from COVID-19, it’s a great time to focus on development. Company-sponsored development, for both you and your fellow employees, is not only important to get the most out of your workforce, but it’s critical to attract and retain top talent.
It’s not just skills and expertise that you should focus your professional development opportunities on. The health and wellbeing of your employees is important, too. Many businesses look to improve work-life balance and improve employee motivation by sponsoring gym classes and fitness programs.
On top of common career-related development opportunities like professional certifications, software training or public speaking, you should build employee wellbeing into your people strategy to help motivate staff and unlock their true potential.
Innovate physical space
Be sure to accommodate the preferences of your workforce. It’s especially important to offer flexibility at a time when working from home has become a mainstay in the corporate world and is keeping businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In situations where work from home is not an option, be sure to focus on improving the physical space of your offices or facilities. For office staff, providing standing desks and areas to socialize during breaks can be interactive and productivity-boosting alternatives to the dreary cubicle-land that inhabit many businesses.
For manufacturing and warehouse facilities, try offering modern locker rooms and personal storage spaces to help keep employees happy. Other on-the-job comforts like standing pads or proper footwear for those who stand for long periods can help boost employee happiness.
No matter how you innovate your physical spaces – be sure to ask for employee perspectives. Without their feedback, you’ll lose employee buy-in and lose their trust.
It’s difficult to ask employees to be innovative while they’re unhappy or unmotivated at your workplace. Asking for their feedback and improving the physical space of your facilities can be one of the most rewarding ways to foster innovation in your employees.
Innovate by treating your employees like your customers
An excellent way to innovate your employees’ experience at work is to treat them like your customer. It might sound bizarre, but consider it for a moment.
You strive to create the best possible experience for your customers. Since employees are one of the most important aspects of your business, why not treat them with that same level of respect and attention, too? The employee experience at work is not only made up of their tasks, perks or rewards. It’s also all about the human elements – the intangibles that ensure workers find value and meaning in the work they do.
Provide a rewarding human experience by being supportive for your employees and empowering them to excel. By challenging your employees, you can give them the space to be innovative. Supportive and empowering environments ensure that employees actually want to come to work. To do so, just remember- treat them as good as (or better than!) you would your customers.
Innovate your building blocks
While a good human experience is important for your employees to feel motivated and happy at work, how exactly should it be accomplished?
The human element is often attributed to employee engagement. That is, helping employees to believe in the organisation, respect other colleagues, and carry a positive attitude into the workplace. To drive employee engagement, your human resource innovation efforts should revolve around putting in place these building blocks:
- Quality management practices – involve employees in decision-making and empower them;
- Allow employee voices to be heard – strive for two-way communication and cooperation; and,
- Commit to employee well-being – include physical health and mental wellness into your HR practices.
These building blocks require a huge amount of effort to put in place. Not only that, once implemented they require continual innovations by responding to employee feedback. It can be a monumental challenge, but your employees are the foundation of your company’s success so you can’t slack on giving them the best possible workplace experience.
Innovate your entire human network, not just your payroll staff
It used to be that your employees were only considered to be the people on your payroll. Now, as business models become more complex, it’s important to think about your entire network of relationships as important inputs to your business.
Earlier in the series we talked about how you can innovate along your entire supply chain [link to article #7]. Similarly, a good human resource strategy considers your entire network of business contacts, vendors, financiers and partners as part of your business family. Doing so allows you to empower and unlock innovation through every person-to-person business interaction.
There are three ways to ensure your entire network is part of your extended business family:
- Innovate how you recruit employees and select partners.
- Good recruitment of your own employees is just as important as recruiting the right links in your supply chain or your business contacts. Set standards for yourself and make sure that new relationships align with the values that are important to you.
- Innovate social connectivity so that important relationships flourish
- Your network of human connection should be properly engaged with each other. Roadblocks should be cleared and communication lines opened up if you want to make sure your business network operates at full potential.
- Innovate the structure and organisation to hold the entire network together
- Look for ways that your corporate structure can be improved to accommodate team-based innovation. Outside your office, make sure that vendors and contractors are aware of your structure, who to talk to, and any changes to your organisation that impacts them.
Innovating Your Business
Your employees are just one aspect that enables your business to be innovative. For more ways to innovate your business, check out our full series that features many more components. Here’s a full list of the series to help you find what you’re looking for:
- Innovate Your Business With Bold Strategies
- Innovate Your Business With a New Business Model
- Innovate Your Business With Better Products and Services
- Innovate Your Business With Process Improvements
- Innovate Your Business With Marketing Techniques
- Innovate Your Business By Adopting New Technology
- Innovate Your Business By Revamping Your Supply Chain
- Innovate Your Business With Your People and Culture
For up-to-date information on how managing innovation benefits your company, be sure to check out the Innovolo blog, where we post regular content about how you can unlock your full potential with the help of innovation.