Ten Ways to Promote Innovation at Your Workplace

Innovation can be defined as “The application of new ideas in order to create better products, services, or processes”. Innovation can also mean using new technology and new ways of thinking to add value to an existing idea or product.

The Bayt.com ‘Innovation in the MENA Workplace’ poll, January 2014, uncovered some very interesting insights about the level of innovation in the region. For example, the poll shows that 83% of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region claim their organizations have long-term innovation strategies, while 85% state that they enjoy enough slack time at work to explore new ideas.

In light of the above, organizations need innovation on all fronts, not just in new products, services, or technologies. Unfortunately, many managers don’t innovate because they don’t think it is their job to do so. At Bayt.com, we say that innovation is everyone’s job. Great organizations don’t depend on a small number of exclusive people to come up with innovations. Instead, they create a culture in which every employee is encouraged and empowered to innovate. A thriving innovation culture leads not only to new customer offerings, but also to better margins, stickier customer relationships, and stronger partnerships with other firms. In fact, 62% of those who took part in the Bayt.com ‘Innovation in the MENA Workplace’ poll say that innovation has led to improved financial performance for their company, while 64% agree that their organization is more innovative compared to competition.

When it comes to promoting a culture of innovation at your workplace, it might be worthwhile to have a look at these ten ways from the experts at Bayt.com:

1. Give employees a reason to care. The fact is, if people aren’t feeling connected to your company, there’s little incentive for them to be innovative. Make sure your employees are in the loop on your firm’s strategies and challenges, and invite their input. Employees who are involved early on in processes and plans will be motivated to see them through to completion. Their active participation will fuel more ideas than if they learn of initiatives firsthand.

2. Stress the importance of innovation. Ensure all your employees know that you want to hear their ideas. Unless they understand how innovating your business processes can keep your firm competitive, your efforts at encouraging creative thinking risk falling flat.

3. Schedule time for brainstorming ideas. Allocate time for new ideas to emerge. For example, set aside time for brainstorming, hold regular group workshops and arrange team days out. A team involved in a brainstorming session is likely to be more effective than the sum of its parts. You can also place suggestion boxes around the workplace, appeal for new ideas to solve particular problems and always keep your door open to new ideas.

4. Train staff in innovation techniques. Your staff may be able to bounce an idea around, but be unfamiliar with the skills involved in creative problem-solving. You may find training sessions in formal techniques such as lateral thinking and mind-mapping worthwhile.

5. Encourage change. Broadening people’s experiences can be a great way to spark ideas. Short-term job swaps can introduce a fresh perspective to job roles. Encourage people to look at how other businesses do things, even those in other sectors, and consider how they can be adapted or improved. According to the Bayt.com ‘Innovation in the MENA Workplace’ poll, 69% state that their companies keep up-to-date with other organizations in their field and adopt best practices.

6. Challenge the way staff work. Encourage employees to keep looking anew at the way they approach their work. Ask people whether they have considered alternative ways of working and what might be achieved by doing things differently. 78% of respondents in the Bayt.com ‘Innovation in the MENA Workplace’ poll say that new ideas are encouraged and tried out.

7. Be supportive. Respond enthusiastically to all ideas and never make someone offering an idea feel foolish. Give even the most apparently eccentric of ideas a chance to be aired.

8. Tolerate mistakes. A certain amount of risk-taking is inevitable with innovation. Allow people to learn from their mistakes. Never put off the creative flow by penalizing those whose ideas don’t work out.

9. Reward creativity. Be among the 44% of companies that reward their employees’ creativity (as per the Bayt.com ‘Innovation in the MENA Workplace’ poll). Motivate individuals or teams who come up with winning ideas by actively recognizing innovation, for example through an awards scheme. You could even demonstrate your recognition that not all ideas work out by rewarding those who just have a rich flow of suggestions, regardless of whether they are put into action at work.

10. Act on ideas. Remember, innovation is only worthwhile if it results in action. Provide the time and resources to develop and implement those ideas worth acting upon. Failure to do so not only means your firm will fail to benefit from innovation, but flow of ideas may well dry up if employees feel the process is pointless. 

 

About Bayt.com

Bayt.com is the number 1 job site in the Middle East with more than 40,000 employers and over 15,500,000 registered job seekers from across the Middle East, North Africa and the globe, representing all industries, nationalities and career levels. Post a job or find jobs on www.bayt.com today and access the leading resource for job seekers and employers in the region.

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