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10 Ways to Encourage Innovation at Your Company

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As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Yet, that doesn’t seem to tell the whole story.

If you ask us, the unsung hero of invention is innovation. The two are practically inseparable, mainly if you work at a startup.

You can do more than you previously thought by encouraging new and innovative ideas. You can solve problems you didn’t even know existed or develop an exciting new product, for instance.

Of course, it’s one thing to talk the talk, but you’ll need to walk the walk if you genuinely want to encourage creativity.

How To Encourage Innovation At Work

Here are 10 great ways that you can encourage innovation in your workplace.

1) Encourage Active Listening

Merely hearing what someone says and listening to their thoughts and ideas are two very different processes. The former is inherently passive, while the latter is more active.

On that note, you and your team would do well to look into active listening.

Active listening is a more involved approach to conversation, widely regarded as one of the most critical skills for startup employees or those in leadership.

It involves intensely focusing on what your partner is saying, often calling for direct feedback.

So, next time you’re sitting at a meeting, try taking an active approach. Instead of zoning out, try actively listening to what the speaker is saying.

You’ll soon find that it’s an invaluable skill that makes you more attractive to clients and coworkers.

2) Encourage Personal Projects

When Google was a small startup, it was in the spotlight for its workplace policies.

They allowed employees to dedicate 20 percent of their workday to personal projects, even if they had nothing to do with their work at Google.

Executives found that employees weren’t just more productive- they were happier!

While Google abolished the 20 percent rule a few years ago, many companies are picking up Google’s vibe, allowing at least some free time throughout the day.

Allowing time for personal projects, even if it’s only a half-hour, can significantly benefit the workplace.

3) Create An Enviable Workplace Culture

Sometimes, it can be hard to separate your coworkers from the workplace. But at the end of the day, you’re all just people.

And chances are your workplace would be much more productive if everyone took the time to get to know one another.

Encourage employees to socialize and build a rapport in the workplace. Doing so fosters friendships while creating an open atmosphere that can directly encourage innovation. Remember, collaboration can happen online using video chat, so you don’t have to be in the same place at the same time to work on team building.

4) Encourage Innovation Through Incentives

Everyone likes a reward. Research suggests that incentives are among the best ways to encourage innovation.

Many small businesses and startups use creative incentives to encourage employees to stay focused. While getting paid is lovely, it isn’t always enough excuse to do more than the bare minimum.

Imagine you’re working in an office testing code. Day in and day out, you go through lines of code looking for bugs. After a while, it’d get pretty tedious, and you’d start to zone out. Imagine you’re offered a $500 bonus for every bug you catch.

While the exact type of incentive (sometimes an extra vacation day works as well as money) is up to you, it’s clear the employees love carrots.

5) Speed Up Approval Processes

One sure way to inhibit innovation is slow approval systems. Simplify approval procedures while considering compliance and legislative requirements to foster innovation that transforms existing and new offerings. Your company must rapidly move from ideas to prototypes to products to stay ahead of the competition.

6) Learn From The Past

Learning from flubs is one of the best ways to improve a business. Make no mistake, failure is far from a bad thing.

In fact, if it weren’t for failure, we wouldn’t have dozens of the things we enjoy today. Everyone fails at some point, from vehicles to the technology you use to read this article.

What matters is how we learn from those mistakes.

When something goes wrong, learn to view it as an opportunity. Examine why the outcome was negative and what can be done to ensure success in the future.

7) Encourage Multi-Team Projects

Employees working at a startup with multiple teams may never have an opportunity to meet coworkers outside of their team, which is a huge mistake.

Not only does it make your office feel cliquish, but it can very easily lead to groupthink. It’s recommended that brands with multiple teams collaborate regularly.

Collaboration is a great way to expand one’s horizons and see things from a new perspective.

8) Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Feeling lost in the shuffle is easy, even in a small startup environment. If an employee’s work is hardly recognized, they’ll feel invisible.

They may even think their work doesn’t matter or aren’t valued.

Recognizing hard work is a great (and easy) way to show appreciation. Give credit when someone knocks it out of the park.

You’d be amazed at how recognition encourages innovation and speeds up productivity.

9) Incorporate Feedback

We discussed the importance of hearing employees out. But there’s more to it than that. Listening to employee feedback is excellent, but incorporating it is far more effective. It shows that you’re really looking and care about the concerns of those at your office.

A little effort goes a long way.

10) Give Employees Space

If you worked in an environment where your boss was always hovering over you (think Bill Lumbergh from Office Space), you probably wouldn’t get much done.

Employees need space to think, so give it to them. Allowing employees to have that space shows a distinct sense of trust.

Encourage Innovation With These Tips

Incorporating these ten tips into your workplace is almost guaranteed to encourage creativity.

Want to learn more ways to boost morale and improve productivity in the workplace? Be sure to browse our management blog to learn tips to make your office more fun and creative.