12 Easy Ways to Encourage Innovation in the Workplace

Illustration of a group of people working and coming up with ideas in an office

With fast-changing trends, you’ll need to adapt with the times to keep growing your company and its success. That said, in order to stay ahead of the game, you must have an innovative workforce that is always motivated to push boundaries.

So, if you feel like your company culture has fallen flat, you should quickly shift the ethos and encourage innovation in the workplace. Luckily for you, we’ve listed 12 easy steps to follow to inspire your workforce and cultivate their creativity.

1. Keep an open line of communication

If open communication isn’t encouraged in the workplace, your team’s creativity is likely to take a hit, too.

To make innovation a fundamental part of your work structure, you’ll need to let your employees know that your door is always open for any discussion. There’s nothing worse than a staff member feeling scared to speak up because they’ll either be shut down or ridiculed!

Besides telling your employees to talk to you, you should also pull them aside and ask how they’re getting on – by making them feel comfortable around you, they’ll be more driven to work harder and come up with new ideas.

2. Support your employees’ ideas

Do you shut your employees’ ideas down before they’ve even finished pitching? Do you find a problem with their idea before you’ve even considered the benefits? If you’re embarrassingly nodding in agreement, then you need to stop!

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with their idea, you should support them and give them the space to explore it and track their success. Follow in the footsteps of Elon Musk and encourage your employees to take risks and manage their own projects. If you don’t, your team will start seeking employment elsewhere or just get on with their tasks without offering any input.

3. Don’t be too hard on them

Tolerating mistakes is an essential part of a collaborative work environment. If your employees fear that they’ll be penalised for their mistakes, then they’ll be less likely to try in case they fail.

Rather than enforcing a regimented work environment, you should allow room for mistakes so your team can learn and grow from them. If you don’t, your business won’t benefit from true innovation.

4. Own up to your mistakes

If you want to encourage an open and innovative workplace, you’ll need to lead by example and own up to your mistakes.

Did you happen to make a decision that backfired? Talk about it in your monthly meeting, and instead of focusing on the negatives, show what you’ve learnt moving forward. By doing so, you’ll reassure your employees that it’s okay to think outside the box, take risks, ask questions and follow in your footsteps.

5. Hire people with different outlooks

Steve Jobs once famously said: ‘It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.’ And this is exactly where many bosses go wrong.

To inspire your team and improve innovation in the workplace, you need to hire people who bring something different to the table; they should have different ideas and skills from you that complement the work that you already do.

6. Implement ideas quickly

As well as accepting and encouraging ideas, you’ll also need to act fast on them. It’s no good agreeing to a project if it’s just going to sit there without being approved for weeks or months.

If you want your employees to stay motivated, you should implement their ideas quickly and give them the freedom to explore them without nit-picking or stepping on their toes. If you trust what they do, you won’t feel the need to get involved in every single project.

7. Offer benefits and rewards

Your employees' efforts should be acknowledged, even if you haven’t used their ideas. That said, if your team has created a new source of income or doubled the company’s profits, then they should be rewarded.

By offering unexpected recognition, your employees will feel satisfied and grateful to be working for a company that recognises their efforts. In turn, this will boost employee retention, as they will be loyal to the company and likely to look for another job.

8. Organise training days

Training days are a great way to boost employee development. By stepping away from the normal working day and listening to inspiring stories, employees will go back to their workstation feeling refreshed and full of ideas.

Although they are costly, training days are a great way to get inspired and find a new purpose or value in what you do. Even as a manager, you can greatly benefit from a day out of the office with your staff members.

9. Take risks

Fear of failure is one of the most common obstacles of innovation. In order to achieve more, you’re going to need to take risks from time to time.

Let’s take a look at Kim Kardashian’s most recent blunder that ended up being a huge success. In 2019, she launched a new loungewear brand called Kimono and faced major backlash due to the offence that it caused among her Japanese fans. She then faced a major dilemma of what she would do with all the branding and merchandise that she’d purchased but decided to take the hit and rebrand as SKIMS. The risk of changing the company name paid off and may even lead to her becoming a billionaire.

10. Move away from hierarchical management

A strict hierarchy in the workplace is likely to kill innovation and motivation. Employees will feel too scared to approach management and offer new ideas, which will end up hindering the advancement of the organisation.

The most innovative companies have a culture where everyone is treated equally, no matter their job title. Elon Musk is a great example here; his leadership approach allows for great innovation, which is why he’s managed to create products that are way ahead of their competitors.

11. Organise your office space

Whether you’ve considered it or not, your office space plays a large role when it comes to team collaboration and innovation. Open seating office spaces and pods allow for more discussions in the workplace, which then leads to inspiration and creativity.

If you’re finding a disconnect between your team members, take a closer look at their workspace and consider reshuffling it to create a more inclusive environment.

12. Invest in collaboration tools

Your team members are going to need the right tools to help improve their collaboration and project management. There are plenty of paid and free organisation tools that help streamline tasks and increase cooperation.

So, take a closer look at the tools that your team are using and consider upscaling this to help save time and increase innovation.

In order to boost innovation and engagement in the workplace, you’ll need to review your management style and make some changes from within before you can implement these across the board.

How do you encourage innovation among your team? Let us know by joining the conversation below!