3 Outside-the-Box Ways to Get Innovation from Employees

You want innovation from employees, but are you providing the right environment for them to deliver? Use these 3 easy, immediate ideas.

innovationIt makes sense, doesn’t it? You want your employees to think outside the box, so shouldn’t you do the same to foster this creativity? There are a number of factors that can kill innovative thinking, especially in a structured environment. You don’t need to hang swings from the ceiling and reconstruct your office to an open concept to get those innovative juices flowing. Here are three simple things you can start immediately to support innovative ideas from your employees.

  1. Create a safe space. One of the most interesting ideas to surface in employee support is to create a safe space at work. Corporate coach Maxine Attong teaches the idea, saying, “In order to take risks, which is the foundation of innovation and subsequent rewards, a team member has to feel safe… Anyone who has ever been in a classroom or company meeting knows the potential risk of making an out-of-the-box statement, which could be seen as silly, frivolous, or ignorant — or as a groundbreaking insight. Without a sense of safety, most employees will decide to silence an unconventional statement that could risk their standing.”This safe space she recommends is not just freedom to pitch ideas without judgment. It is a physical space for employees to take a beat – vent, rant, cry – over life’s unpredictable, inevitable distractions. Death of a pet, discord with a coworker, and divorce are all examples of regular events that can happen to any of us. It can be difficult to tuck away feelings about these things; with a room to just live the moment they have, the feeling won’t overwhelm employees anymore. They can get it out of their system and return to work with a clear mind and better focus.
  2. Let employees creating their own schedules. One thing the millennial generation has taught us is that not everyone functions best on a traditional 8-5 schedule. People should be trusted to put in their hours and complete their work on a schedule that works best for them. Maybe they need to leave at 2 to exercise and then stay at work until 7. Maybe occasionally working remotely will allow innovation to come forth. Trust your employees to do their jobs, and give them the freedom to do it when and how they will be at their best.
  3. Offer access to alternative wellness. While this is a “newer” concept, it is already a part of many company cultures. It combines the reasoning behind both the aforementioned ideas – give your employees a judgment-free space where they are encouraged to do yoga, Tai Chi, take naps, or meditate when they need to. Offering these activities not only shows that you care about your employees, it also provides a refreshing mental and physical break that results in higher productivity.

From corporate to small business cultures, we are learning that by working with the human condition, we foster the best, most innovative productivity from employees.

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