Innovation is critical for organizations to continue to build and sustain competitive advantage over the long term. Many of the world’s most innovative companies have unlocked the secret to continuous innovation: their employees. However, motivating employees to take part in innovation can sometimes be a challenge. This article will cover six tactics your organization can implement to motivate employees to innovate:
Make it easy to reach customers.
Innovation is truly powerful when it solves a deeply rooted pain point. Empowering employees to communicate with customers allows them to empathize with those pain points and identify opportunities to solve them. Plus, two-way communication allows for fast and effective iterations of innovations. Your organization can start enabling these conversations by setting up usability labs (in-person or online), conducting surveys, or just by picking up the phone and calling.
Get leadership involved.
Communication from the leadership team in support of innovation may motivate a handful of employees to innovate, but leadership involvement will certainly be more effective. When busy executives take time to provide genuine feedback on employees’ ideas, it demonstrates a true organizational commitment to innovation.
Host innovation contests.
In the software world, hack-a-thons have proven successful in generating ideation and development quickly, but this idea can be translated to any industry. Set up an innovation contest in your organization; ask employees to form teams, present their ideas, vote on others’ ideas, and award winning innovations.
Create an unstructured time policy.
One of the biggest challenges hindering innovation is the concern that it will pull time or commitment from employees’ day-to-day responsibilities. Creating and enforcing an unstructured time policy — where employees can take a percentage of their hours to dedicate to innovating without repercussion — eliminates this concern.
Develop an inventor incentive program.
Rewarding innovations that turn into valuable intellectual property for the organization is another key motivator. Inventor incentive programs reward employees financially for their innovations which enables higher quality of innovations and a more valuable intellectual property portfolio.
Staff dedicated innovation roles.
In many instances, innovation may have executive support, but can be sidelined by other core initiatives. Staffing a dedicated innovation team ensures that the innovation focus won’t get lost as other issues arise. An innovation officer can strategically plan innovation initiatives and weave the innovation into all parts of the organization, including day-to-day activities like process optimization and even hiring for innovation.
These initiatives can enable the organization to develop a true innovation culture in order to perpetuate impactful product development. To learn more about the benefits of an innovation culture and how to build one in your organization, read this free ebook.