Three Tips for Cultivating an Innovative Workforce: Attracting and Retaining Talent
Turn-over and the inability to attract innovative employees are two problems that plague many organizations and stunt business growth. Cultivating an environment that rewards entrepreneurial thinking—or intrapreneurship—is one key change a company can make towards keeping and attracting proactive and forward-thinking employees.
Here are three tips to help.
Tip 1: Provide time and space for innovation.
If you want employees to come up with new ideas, you need to give them time to create without penalty and during standard business hours. One of the most well-known examples of this practice is Google, who gives employees 20% of their work week to use creating ideas for Google-related products and services.
Doing this communicates to employees that you value their time and insight—that you welcome their ideas and encourage them to be active participants in the organization. In turn this produces a work environment where employees feel invested in the company and its success.
Tip 2: Generate a process for idea submission.
A lot of companies will provide time for innovation, but then leave employees wondering the proper way to actually communicate their ideas. Providing employees with a process for submitting or pitching their ideas lets them know what information needs to be presented, what research needs to be done, and gives direction for execution. This framework also can reduce time spent evaluating ideas, as only those ideas that are a bit more fleshed out will make it to the presentation stage. (Note: This doesn’t mean that quick, spur of the moment ideas aren’t valuable—in fact, sometimes they are the best ideas. But providing a venue for those, separate from the formal pitch, is essential and perhaps a precursor to the presentation.)
An example of a company who does this well is DreamWorks. At DreamWorks, employees at all levels can get education on how to pitch an idea. successfully—a program that encourages creation from all employees, not matter what their job role or title.
Tip 3: Reward the process, not the result.
One sure-fire way to squash innovation is to penalize employees if ideas don’t work out. Do not view this as wasted time. Instead, view this as time when an employee was actively participating in the betterment of the company. When you give employees permission to fail, they are willing to be more creative—more innovative and risky—with their thinking. This can often lead to the best ideas.
A great example of rewarding the process comes from Calgon who, upon advice from Alan Weiss of Summit Consulting Group, created a “Best Idea That Didn’t Work” award, giving respect to the process, and not the end result.This entry was posted in Business Foundations, Communication, Entrepreneurial Thinking, Innovation, Intrapreneur, Leadership, Mission and Vision, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.