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It’s impossible to summarize the impact of recent years on the workplace. There is no catchy phrase that can fully capture the temporary and permanent ways that our work lives have been altered. What will come next is impossible to predict, but it’s certain that adaptability and innovation will remain the keys to thriving on a personal and organizational level.
Human resources is one of few departments that has the power to impact every team member, often at critical parts of the employee lifecycle. Because of this, HR is perfectly positioned to encourage and support innovation throughout your company. Read on to learn about seven actionable ways HR can help drive company-wide innovation.
1. Recognize and reward innovation
Implementing and executing the right recognition and reward program can boost employee innovation. Behaviors that are recognized get repeated, so recognizing innovation is a great way to see more of it, resulting in a strong, sustainable culture of creativity. Employees also aren’t likely to innovate unless they’re engaged and motivated each and every day. All leaders should know that employee engagement is critical, but they might not realize that employee recognition is the number one driver of engagement. According to the Achievers 2021 Engagement and Retention Report, the more recently someone is recognized, the higher their engagement is likely to be.
2. Listen and act on innovative ideas
Even if employees are motivated to come up with and present innovative ideas, it won’t matter if they don’t have the means to share them — or if those they present them to don’t listen to and act on their ideas. Leaders should always take quick action when presented with innovative feedback, including involving team members in creating action plans and setting up the next steps in ways that team members can contribute to. Team members will then feel like they are a part of the solution, and will know that speaking up has a positive impact on the entire organization. This creates the confidence and trust needed to continue speaking up as a truly engaged and valued employee.
To truly enable employee voice, your organization should provide avenues for anonymous feedback, so employees can always be honest. Adopt an employee engagement platform that includes easy-to-answer pulse surveys and always-on, AI-powered HR chatbots to keep the innovative ideas flowing.
3. Recruit a diverse workforce
Diversity, equity and inclusion are not simply trendy leadership buzzwords. They are key ways that individuals and communities define themselves, and deserve equally critical levels of attention from your organization, for reasons related to innovation and otherwise.
Diversity concerns differences in political beliefs, race, culture, sexual orientation, religion, class, and gender identity among your team members. A diverse team consists of individuals who come from different perspectives and backgrounds.
Inclusion means that everyone on that diverse team feels involved, valued, respected, treated fairly, and integrated in your company culture.
Equity at work occurs when you provide fair opportunities for all of your employees based on their individual needs, offering each team member the specific resources they need to be successful.
A diverse, inclusive, and equity-focused environment creates a strong sense of belonging among your team members, so they feel comfortable when sharing new and exciting ideas that shake up the status quo. It also brings in the wide range of perspectives needed to see where opportunities for productive change lie.
HR team members are in a strong position to support diversity, inclusion, and equity. Here are two of the best ways they can put these beliefs into action.
Update your recruitment efforts
Revamping your recruitment process to connect with more diverse candidates will expand your talent pool, increasing your chances of finding the best candidate for each position. Hiring more diverse individuals in turn attracts more interested applicants, as 76% of workers say diversity is an important factor in their job search.
Use measurements to make meaningful changes
To know where your organization stands in terms of diversity, inclusion, and equity, you will need to track and measure your efforts in these areas. With the right tools in place, these measurements are easy to collect and understand. Practicing continuous listening and adopt a solution that gives real-time insights into the thoughts and feelings of your team. This helps you define and address challenges and opportunities related to DEI.
Continuously listening directly to your team members provides awareness of possible conflicts, needs, or confusion that managers and other higher-level staff may not know about. This direct employee feedback should drive new, people-centric initiatives and increase trust to foster better performance.
Are your initiatives actually addressing issues and delivering the performance you want? You can get an accurate assessment of the results of your efforts by measuring your diversity and inclusion-related KPIs before and after implementing new DEI initiatives. Was there a change in your metrics? What else can you improve in order to improve DEI at your organization?
4. Build a culture of psychological safety
Psychological safety at work is when your team knows that they can share their ideas, questions, worries, and even mistakes without being embarrassed, rejected, or punished. Psychologically safety results in a great culture where employees can innovate without fear that their ideas will be dismissed. This is a proven tactic, with Google having found that teams who enjoyed high rates of psychological safety implemented more diverse ideas and drove higher performance while enjoying less turnover.
Together, HR and leaders have the power to establish an environment where employees are comfortable sharing their feelings. HR should encourage leaders to ask for their team’s input, thoughts, and feedback to help build feelings of safety, increase communication, and deliver better results across the organization, even in critical areas like workplace safety. HR should also help train leaders to use techniques like owning their own mistakes, publicly crediting employees for their ideas, and recognizing contributions to difficult conversations.
5. Help employees grow
If you have invested in creating an engaged team where everyone feels recognized, heard, included, and psychologically safe, then you have likely created a company that your team will want to contribute to. Offer comprehensive opportunities to do so by making sure that your employees are able to learn and grow within your organization.
Both HR and individual leaders should participate in developing their employees’ skill sets and offering educational opportunities. They should also give them the autonomy to make important decisions that can lead to new forks on their career path at your organization. Provide meaningful ways to contribute, pursue their work-related interests, and find opportunities for advancement to increase retention while building a skilled, flexible, and achievement-oriented workforce.
Not sure what your team members’ needs, wants, and goals are? Start by asking them. Employee involvement in the creation of training and development programs ensures that you’re increasing both their knowledge and your organization’s level of employee engagement.
6. Choose the right tech
Thankfully, HR doesn’t have to build the foundation for innovation alone. Technology, in the form of modern HR software solutions, can help you meet all of your organization’s innovation goals. Adopting the right recognition and engagement platforms makes it possible to notice and appreciate each team member’s effort and give every employee a voice, regardless of your organization’s size.
Looking for a new platform for your organization? Here are a few features that you should consider when making your choice.
Is the recognition process easy and flexible?
Make it easy for employees to express their appreciation for each other to help to build a culture of recognition at your company. Look for employee recognition software that facilitates simple, spontaneous acts of appreciation. In addition, make sure that recognition can flow in all directions and at all levels through the organization, not just from the top down.
Can praise be made public?
Praise and recognition should not just be confined to one-on-ones or small team meetings. A team member’s excellence should be seen widely. Transparent sharing makes recognition more meaningful and promotes the behaviors that your company values.
Are social recognition options included?
Social recognition is a powerful form of non-monetary recognition that your recognition platform should include. It taps into your team’s psychological motivators, like feeling a sense of belonging, making a contribution to your team, and doing work that has value.
Collecting and acting on feedback to drive engagement
A critical factor in employee engagement is whether your organization collects and acts on feedback from team members. Sixty-four percent of HR and engagement leaders agree that an always-on employee feedback option is essential to an engagement, but only 20% have the software they need. Once you have feedback, does your software allow you to quickly take action and report on the results?
Power HR innovation with Achievers
The Achievers Experience Platform is a thoughtfully designed, flexible, and quick-to-deploy set of tools that can help your HR team support innovation today. Achievers Listen gives your employees a voice, and empowers your leadership to act on feedback in real time. It delivers the insights needed for HR and team leaders to confidently make decisions that will move your organization forward. And Achievers Recognize is a science-backed recognition and rewards program that offers both evolving monetary rewards and organization-wide channels for a fun and engaging social recognition experience.