Attracting Quality Staff to Boost Your Company’s Innovation Culture
It’ been said over and over: engaged employees drive innovation. When employees are engaged, they are empowered to seek ways to innovate. In other words, the team you assemble in your workplace will have a direct influence on the innovation culture of your company. That said, culture needs sustenance through continued, thorough recruitment processes that place emphasis on specific innovation-inspiring traits and diversity, and an overall human-centered creativity targeted at improving processes, products, persons, teams, and the organization.
If employees drive innovation, then how do you keep attracting the best? Are there innovative and creative ways in which companies can improve their visibility and reputation and attract the best sets of staff out there? These questions are especially poignant in this period of labor shortage in the skilled category, and are worth exploring. Research on some of the most innovative companies suggests that practicing the following will greatly enhance your attraction factor:
Inspire your employees
The biggest fans your organization could ever have are your staff. Treat them rightly and they will make joyful noises about your organization to other people. Treat them badly, and watch them anonymously drop ‘bombshells’ about how bad working in your organization is. The key to taking them from ordinary staff members to ravings fans is continuous engagement and inspiration. Inspiring your employees has to be deliberate; it’s not coincidental and doesn’t just happen. An inspired staff is the best type of employee you can ever have as opposed to dissatisfied, satisfied, or just engaged.
According to research by Bain & Company in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit, apart from inspired employees having a productivity index of 225 (more than double the productivity index for satisfied employees with 100 productive index), they are also more predisposed to share about where they work in public and on social media, thereby increasing the visibility of their organizations. Achieving this type of pride in employees depends very much on the leadership finding unique and innovative ways to get employees vested in the company’s mission. Inspired employees are those who feel part of a team, have job autonomy, are learning and growing, and know that what they do has an impact on the organization. Then, the satisfaction that turns them into raving fans will come.
Remove hindrances to employee progress
Employees want to grow; career wise and in other ways. In simple terms, they want to be fulfilled. Growth can be relative and can mean different things to different people, and therein lays the challenge. For some employees, having a better work-life balance means the world to them, and for some, it is rising up the ranks at work. Whatever it is, managers must constantly have their ears on the ground to react favorably. While the organization cannot respond to everyone’s needs, there are instances it can help. For example, the employee craving better work-life balance can be offered more telecommute time. Of course, this will require the organization having the right technology to deal with such provisions – project management tools, collaborative apps, instant messaging, and so on.
Be deliberate about humor and fun at work
Humor and fun are a big part of creativity. It creates a “chill” atmosphere around your workplace and deflates pressure. Not only that, companies are stretching the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not. LinkedIn has a music room at work where employees can jam a session and just chill out. Who wouldn’t want to work there? A place where they are challenged and at the same time can relax and be themselves.
You know all those “Employees of the Month” pictures hanging on the wall? Why not ditch them? Instead of that, you can have a superman cape or something else that indicates a champion. Or you could encourage an employee to bounce back after a failure or even after a sickness by giving them a ball to indicate “bouncing back.” Being creative about the work environment also encourages innovation in your employees.
Promote remote work
An EY study of 2015 that polled and surveyed employees from Germany, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, India, United States, United Kingdom, and Chine showed that employees craved flexible working conditions as one of the top two things they wanted from their employers. A survey by Deloitte revealed that 75 percent of millennials would like to start or do more of remote work, with 51 percent thinking working remotely will boost productivity. These shows that companies have to not only encourage working remotely but also provide the resources that make remote work feasible.
“If you can’t trust your employees to work flexibly, why hire them in the first place?” asked Adam Henderson of Millennial Mindset. He further added that “A flexible approach to work also helps businesses retain their best talent as they are giving their employees an option to do great work, but in a way that fits their lifestyles, providing a win-win scenario for all.” So yes, it’s a no-brainer – resisting the trend towards remote working arrangements would only make your company less likely to attract the brightest and best, especially among millennials.
Constantly improve upon your onboarding process
Onboarding is an “introduction to the culture of the company” according to Stephen Hyken, a customer service expert, and speaker. When new employees are hired, the onboarding process can make a break their decision to stay long-term. You must design your onboarding process to fit your needs and company culture. A fast startup company cannot afford long onboarding periods; in fact, most companies can’t.
However, it is still imperative to extensively and constantly run over your onboarding process and ask “How can I make the life of a new employee better?” Skilled workers irrespective of their talent will rather go to organizations where they will get the best support to hit the ground running. Also, design the onboarding process to include giving and receiving feedback on the process.
Find creative ways to treat your employees better
You need to find better ways to improve the daily experiences of your employees better. It can be giving them quality breaks, ensuring their schedule is well spread or even enforcing vacations as TED does; everything all adds up. It shows your organization cares for its employees and in the social media age, word will get around quickly. “Customers will love a company that first loves its employees”, says Vala Afshar, a marketing and customer service expert.
Scheduling is a particularly important aspect, as it’s a major issue for employees. They want to have a measure of control over their lives. They want to plan their days and sometimes weeks ahead. So yes, your scheduling culture has a big part to play in attracting quality employees. You must have a scheduling culture that accommodates employee preferences as much as it can. You have to keep in mind that employees have a family, hobbies, school, and in some cases other jobs – volunteering or paid – that they are juggling.
Provide the right tools and the right ambiance
Having a reputation as a company that provides the right tools for its employees will help you attract better talent. Coupled with having the right atmosphere, this can do wonders for your employee’s innovation and productivity. Experiment with plants and greenery, find the right light balance and equip your staff with the latest apps and gadgets when the budget allows. You’ll have to keep tweaking till you get it right. Experiment with new technologies and track how your employees interact with it to make sure it’s yielding the right results.
Incentives go beyond money, but yes, money is an important facet of incentives. That said, focusing solely on money will be counterproductive in the long run and can make money thrown at al problems. Incentives should be total and clearly reward innovation and other factors that drive innovation like collaboration, teamwork, and consistency. What is required from you is to create a transparent and creative process that’s straightforward and not open to manipulation.
Eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy
Bureaucracy is the death of creativity and innovation in organizations. It is an unnecessary burden that does little more than make employees dependent on leadership at every juncture of processes. To eliminate unnecessary bureaucracies, you’ll have to reassess all your processes and trust your employees more. If you can’t trust your employees to make decisions and proffer innovative solutions to internal and external problems, then they perhaps don’t need to be working for you.
Prioritize human-centered service design
Innovation that is not targeted and tailored towards human needs will fall short of its potential. At the same time, employees want to know that their work has meaning and serves a purpose. Every process, service, and product design must be built on a thought process that encompasses both your staff and customer interactions with your products and services. This way, your employees can innovatively serve your customers better. In essence, your processes must be usable, desirable, useful, findable, accessible, credible, and valuable.
Use social media creatively
Social media platforms are an avenue to freely market your organization and increase visibility, a platform like LinkedIn where professionals gather. Notwithstanding, you should never discard the influence and reach of other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Show people how much fun your employees are having and how the environment promotes innovation and creative thinking. You can also write-up case studies of how you dealt with onboarding and general employee challenges on platforms like Quora. You will increase your exposure and create a sort of positive bias and attract more people to your organization.
Be early adopters of technology
One of the signs of an innovative company is their penchant for adopting new technologies quickly. And it shows in all their activities, products, and touch points – website, service design, processes, employee tools, etc. It is a sign for prospective employees that over time, their work won’t be limited by a technology stuck in the past. Apart from the benefits for your employees, you get to have an advantage over your competitors.
Have proper feedback mechanisms
Creating a proper feedback mechanism can greatly influence growth among your employees. Aside from the traditional annual and perhaps bi-annual feedback given to employees, employees need to be constantly updated about their job performance. It gives your organization the opportunity to apprise itself of and encourage employees’ for their innovation and creative thinking. Constant feedback also serves as pats in the back for those who have done well and encourages them to be even more innovative. They needn’t wait until December before they are praised for the work that they did in January.
Innovation is a compulsory convenience. Companies that want to grow must be deliberate about it and the results will follow. Not only does it make company processes more seamless and more human-oriented, it also boosts the organization’s visibility, popularity, and attractiveness to the public and to prospective employees. While the top to bottom process of creating an innovation culture that equips employees better is painstaking, the burden can be reduced by outsourcing a major proportion of it to experts who can guide your company to develop a culture of innovation, while you focus on running and leading your company.
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