‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower’ – Steve Jobs
In the rapidly-evolving digital world, ‘innovation’ becomes one of the key buzzwords that drive business leaders to keep moving forward. Many of us might have great ideas on mind, but how many are actually able to turn them into meaningful innovations? While spurring creativity and innovation is the responsibility of an entire team, HR department plays a vital role as the driving force to create a culture of innovation within the organisation.
Approaching 2020, more senior employees are entering the retirement period and soon the labour force will be jam-packed with new generation of workers; Millennials. Possessing distinctive characteristics from the older generations, Gallup survey notes that 71 percent Millennials are either not engaged or actively disengaged with their jobs.
Another Gallup survey finds that engaged employees are the ones behind every company’s ground-breaking creation. These findings indicate that the efforts to encourage innovation should be implemented hand-in-hand with a employee engagement strategy.
In 2016, PageUp collaborates with Alexander Mann to conduct annual Global HR Innovation Survey regarding the role of HR in stimulating the culture of innovation. Here are four big trends related to the issue:
See: Businesses in Asia Not Equipped to Achieve Sustainable Innovation, Despite Optimism
Innovation as a culture
While 43 percent respondents say that their companies encourage creativity and innovation, only 35 percent think that their organisations have created an environment that promotes risk-taking and entrepreneurial behaviour. The percentage gets further lower when it comes to trust value, where employees are ensured to try to challenge, try new ideas, and fail.
As important are corporate values, HR leaders should also implant the seed of innovation in the minds of employees as an integral part of the workplace culture, even before they get hired. Emphasising on the culture of innovation is a great way to engage candidates, right from the beginning of the recruitment process. Not only does this bring in better qualified new hires, the DNA of innovation will ensure smoother business operation.
Innovation requires framework and supports
The survey finds that 65 percent respondents believe their organisation uses all kinds of technologies to support the innovation process and culture. However, only 54 percent respondents gain access to present new ideas and provide feedback, only 39 percent actually have methods to prioritise the ideas.
Amidst the advancements in social and scientific knowledge, technology plays a crucial role to facilitate and support innovation. To take full advantage of technology and support the innovation culture, companies need to find the right frameworks and strategies. Through optimisation and utilisation of technology, innovative ideas can be prioritised and addressed more openly.
HR should drive innovation culture
While 64 percent respondents believe that driving innovation should be the priority for the organisation in the next 12 months, there are varied answers for whether or not HR has brought impactful outcomes in the area. 24 percent non-HR respondents agree that their HR department is currently driving innovation, 28 percent are neutral, while the rest 48 percent either agree or strongly disagree.
The stats indicate that while innovation often comes as top organisation priority, the role of HR in driving the culture of innovation is proven to be not as effective as the department might think. The findings pose further challenges for HR personnel, to alter the commonly-held perception among non-HR employees about their role in nurturing innovation.
Focus on people and talent management
Diverse thoughts are one of the main forces that drive innovation. More than 60 percent respondents agree that their organisations promote diversity of thoughts and facilitate cross-cultural collaboration. However, despite the high percentage, less than half of the organisations actually provide rewards for innovation and educate employees for innovative and creative training.
More than anything else, successful innovation strategies should be focused on the development of people and talents. To achieve fruitful outcomes from the innovation culture, companies should recognise and reward employees for their efforts.
Innovation services and products do not come out of nowhere. It originates from creative and flexible minds that always seek to spawn new inventions. Digital transformation has made the process of knowledge-sharing easier than ever before. More than just floating visions on mind, open-minded individuals have the ability to turn these ideas into breakthrough services, products, and experiences that will satisfy customers. If business leaders want to thrive and stay relevant, companies should respond to these new challenges in the ever-growing world economy.
Read also: Brimming with Ideas, Innovation and Creativity: Candid Q&A with Reed Collins, Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong