Every workplace is run by people who aspire to make that space a place where employees look forward to going to each morning. No matter what kind of business it is, people should always feel free to speak up and participate in work life culture.
Getting to that point can be tricky, but it’s much easier if team members feel free to bring their innovative ideas to the table. It’s how businesses grow and thrive in the modern world, so it’s essential for the work space.
Not sure how to change your office into a collaborative environment? Read on to discover seven proven ways to bring innovation into the workplace. By putting these tips into action, your workplace will become a much more open and free flowing environment for positive ideas and projects.
1. Create a Safe Space
There are many jokes that have been made around the idea of creating safe spaces for people, but when they’re actually put into use, people thrive. No one is going to be themselves and participate in community growth if they don’t feel safe enough to voice their thoughts and concerns.
Making your workplace a safe space is the first big step you can make to spark innovation. It starts by letting your team members know exactly how and where they can report their ideas to, and then working with those leaders on how they can give positive or motivating feedback.
2. Encourage Collaboration
Collaboration can be another obstacle on the way to innovation, since it’s difficult for anyone to get truly innovative plans off the ground all on their own. People in more traditional work spaces could feel like teamwork on an innovative project wouldn’t be encouraged, because it would distract from productivity or other goals that were already set.
Whether it be through an email or an office meeting, you can turn this kind of environment around by encouraging work space collaboration. Create new teams and goals for those teams to meet that relate to innovation.
This relates back to safe spaces as well, since employees will feel more comfortable volunteering ideas and solutions in smaller group settings.
3. Review Your Staffing
How many people are employed in your work space and how hard do they work? If a small amount of people are assigned major tasks to do, they’re going to be stressed out trying to complete all their work.
Studies have shown that high levels of stress decrease production of creativity. Working constantly and not feeling comfortable enough to take a break or even decompress during lunch keeps stress at an all time high for employees.
Instead, review your staffing. Are you able to hire any new team members to more evenly divide the workload and decrease stress? A new hire or two could be all your company needs to become more creative.
4. Use Emerging Technology
There are constant new additions to the tech world that can often be implemented in the work space. They may cost a bit up front, but technology is the key to increasing innovation.
This fact isn’t only proclaimed by employees who like to use new tech gear. It’s also backed up by experts like Dr. Poppy Crum, who have studied how human physiology changes with increased interaction with emerging technology.
You may not even need to have a big training session so everyone uses this new tech every day. Microsoft created “The Garage,” which is a place where employees can go to play around with new tech and create whatever comes to mind.
While you may not have the budget for a massive tech playground, it’s still a great idea to introduce emerging tech to your work space and give people the opportunity to get used to it.
5. Increase Your Diversity
Another way to inspire innovation is to introduce new ideas through new people. Every business should already strive to hire a diverse team of people, but employees with different backgrounds and interest will all pitch in something new.
Mattel is a good example of this. Two years ago, their executives decided to create a new line of dolls specifically for African American girls. To make sure that the eventual product was a success, they hired an African American Employee Resource Group to collaborate on things like the name of the line, the look and other fine details.
Without this key increase in diversity, the So In Style doll line wouldn’t have been a success. The diverse input resulted in innovation that transformed the product, and it can do the same in any other workplace.
6. Make Approval Easy
Once a business has created a welcoming environment for innovative ideas, leaders then have to focus on what the process looks like for acting on those ideas.
Which leaders do employees go to with their ideas? Who reviews them and what is that review process like? Look back on past ideas that have been reviewed and processed, whether or not they were put into action.
There needs to be communication between the innovative team members and the approval managers, so everyone knows where the project idea stands. It should be efficient and time sensitive, so the people who came up with the idea know that their contribution is valued.
7. Celebrate Innovation
When young kids in school accomplish something, they’re rewarded with treats or early recess. That kind of reward system dissolves in middle school, and it’s essentially nonexistent for anyone beyond their high school years.
Celebrating innovation should happen every time an innovative idea is a success. This encourages employees to not only cheer each other on, but also to feel free to come up with more ideas in the future.
Celebrations may look like a free pizza lunch or a half day on Friday. Whatever you can fit in the budget. You may not be able to put on a Lady Gaga concert like Google, but your employees will still love that their new innovative ideas are something to be proud of.
Stay Open to New Ideas
It’s not realistic to imagine that every attempt at an innovative idea will be a success, but everyone should still feel free to speak up when one comes to mind. Encouraging innovation in the workplace will transform how your workplace runs, creating a happier place for everyone to work.