The modern business climate is complex, constantly changing, and for the most part, unpredictable. If a business is to thrive and experience long-term success in such an environment, it is absolutely essential that it embraces innovation at its core. Businesses must put systems in place that encourage their staff to think outside the box.
The role that HR departments play in fostering a culture of innovation and creativity in the workplace cannot be overstated. These two key factors are invariably viewed as benchmarks for performance in any evaluation of a business and its employees, and innovation is undeniably considered synonymous with growth. The challenge for any HR department, therefore, is to help create and maintain an innovative work culture.
To achieve this, HR firstly needs to have the full support of management in driving such change. If these concepts are not embraced and actively promoted by managers, the organization will already be set up to fail. Further to this, both HR and management need to possess a solid understanding of which elements are vital to fostering an innovative work culture, and a clear strategy on how to achieve, maintain, and build on this notion of innovation.
Once truly committed to implementing and maintaining an innovative workplace culture, the overarching goal of HR leaders and managers should be to nurture a relaxed and open atmosphere in which risk-taking and creativity are encouraged. If HR is able to successfully cultivate an environment where people feel empowered enough to present their ideas without fear or apprehension, and they can see that their contributions are being implemented and given a chance to succeed, creativity and the workplace culture as a whole will most likely flourish.
Recruitment, Talent and the Importance of a Diverse Work Group
An organization cannot successfully implement and maintain an innovative work culture without having creative, enthusiastic, and highly motivated people in its workforce. An effective HR leader is obviously of vital importance in this area. They must understand how to attract talented people to the business, how to cultivate the talent they already have within the organization, and ultimately how to retain valued staff. This can be achieved by maintaining and evolving a positive culture in which people feel free to explore new ideas and take risks without fearing the consequences of failure.
Recruiting and hiring people from diverse backgrounds can also be of tremendous benefit to a modern, creative workplace. Employing skilled people from various work and cultural backgrounds brings different perspectives and ideas to the organization, and this variety of creative input should ultimately result in a higher quality of innovative outcomes.
Innovation, creativity, and diversity are all elements of workplace culture, so if HR leaders are able to cultivate a positive, open, and productive culture within the organization, innovative ideas and concepts will be a natural consequence of combining talented and creative people.
Creative and skilled staff are essential to fostering an innovative work culture, and it is crucial that management and HR have the right structures, processes, and resources in place to support their staff and help them flourish. If staff feel that they have the full support of HR and that they are being provided with the tools, the culture will most likely be a positive one in which innovation and new ideas flow freely.
Once the right people are in place, it then becomes the ongoing job of both HR and management to develop and maintain this talent and innovation and incorporate it into the fabric of the organization so that it becomes the expected norm. Aligning all the separate pieces to work together towards the same goal should be the primary objective.
Innovation is Fundamental to Growth
History shows that in business, innovation propels and stimulates growth. In contrast, businesses that resist innovation and fail to change and grow with the times will often be pushed out of the market by new competitors who have fully embraced the innovative culture approach.
This is another area in which HR leaders can be instrumental to the ultimate success of a business. Through conducting surveys, speaking one-on-one to employees regularly, and encouraging collaboration and feedback, HR departments can incorporate feedback from their people and involve them in ongoing organizational change.
When staff feel involved in decision-making processes and can see that their feedback is being heard and acted on, they are much more likely to feel encouraged and valued by the organization, and will continue to be bold, creative, and put forward new ideas.
Not All Innovation Will Be Successful
Of course, not every idea is going to be a raging success. While there should be a reward structure in place to celebrate the successful implementation and maintenance of innovation, it is just as important to ensure that the fear of failure or fear of taking risks is removed from the organizational mindset. People are not going to be comfortable or productive in an environment where they are worried about ‘backlash’ or negativity when an idea that they initiated does not work.
With this in mind, any company that is truly committed to an open, forward-thinking, and creative business model needs to incorporate certain strategies and safeguards that prepare for failure. For example, the annual budget should allow for trialing new concepts and prototypes, implementing new ideas and processes, and allow for the reality that failure is inevitable at some point in an environment that embraces innovative thinking. If fear of taking risks is removed through intelligent planning and strong leadership, an innovative culture can absolutely flourish.
The concept of fostering an innovative workplace culture does not mean that the organization has to implement every ‘hair-brained’ scheme that is put on the table! Whilst it is important to remove the fear of taking risks in a creative workplace, it is obviously still important to make sound business decisions and to remain competitive in the market by following intelligent and efficient operational practices. Finding the right balance between the two is therefore one of the most significant factors in determining a business’ success and their ongoing sustainability, and it remains one of the greatest challenges for HR professionals in a highly dynamic, modern business world.
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Author Bio: This article was written by Ciaran Hourican of H-Training. Ciaran helps H.R professionals to develop a culture of innovation within organisations.