The Art of the Workforce: Innovation in the Workplace


Editor’s Note: We’ve commissioned artist Doug Shaw to explore the 16 Key Factors measured when it comes to compatibility between a candidate and employer and will be posting them along with his inspiration in this series.

This week’s key factor in the Art of the Workforce series is innovation. Innovation is many things. Whether shown through creativity, new ideas, or even problem solving, innovation is what helps businesses grow and adapt in a changing society and a constantly changing consumer base.

New research has found that a consumer’s average attention span is 8 seconds—1 second less than a goldfish—dropping 4 seconds since 2000. In a world like this, innovation is key!

Tweet This: New research has found that a consumer’s average attention span is 8 seconds.

Because of such findings, many employers are now looking at innovation in a new light. This has become a crucial quality to look for when it comes to new hires; especially those who happen to be in top leader positions.

Think about it, when a company’s profits slowly start to decline, what is the first thing they discuss – why, and what can we do to change it? Without a thoughtful mind and a new outlook on things, questions like these would never get answered. Or, at the very least, answered properly. Scott Jewett, CEO and founder of research and development solutions provider Element-Y states:

“Innovation requires continual evolution. An innovative company can have an advantage in the marketplace, but it must also balance the investment and cost with the potential outcome. The problem is that most companies focus on building an innovative infrastructure rather than on teaching their team a structured way of thinking that delivers great results.”

For some veteran workers, this concept may seem harder than one would think. Being in the workforce for many years, especially at one company, can actually cause employees to be unaware of changes that need to happen, or even be unable to see why things need to be different; almost as if they are walking around with blinders on.

This also means that they are unwilling to take chances in order to be more innovative. In a business report, IBM named “Risk Avoidance” as one of the top 5 barriers when it comes to integrating innovation in the workplace. Here are some of their insights:

“Some organizations habitually play the game of finding things that could go wrong. Many of the classic responses come up almost as a reflex. Once risks are identified, innovation is often stopped. But a clear-eyed view of risks balanced against benefits can create an environment where innovation is nurtured rather than killed.”

Companies are approaching innovation in various ways. Some are building super-desks for their entire staff, others are allowing pets at work (Allegra alert!), still more are building music rooms and trying “hotdesking”, the trend that makes open offices look cool.

But innovation needn’t be all focused on the big things. What about small innovations? Allowing staff to come up with new ideas about processes and tasks? Here are 10 ways to change your everyday practices to encourage more innovation in the workplace:

Here are 10 ways to encourage innovation at your workplace as advised by experts:

  • Involve your employees
  • Make innovation important
  • Encourage brainstorming
  • Train your staff
  • Encourage change
  • Look at new ways to do things
  • Don’t discourage
  • Be tolerant
  • Reward ideation and innovation
  • Implement strategy to execution
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