How You Can Inspire Innovative Thinking Among Your Employees
February 14, 2019
By: Kelly Spors
In recognition of the huge contribution inventors make to the world, Congress designated February 11—the birthdate of famous, prolific inventor Thomas Edison—as National Inventors’ Day. Edison held over 1,000 patents and is credited with inventing everything from the phonograph and incandescent light bulb to nickel-iron batteries and a motion-picture camera.
As a business owner, you might feel like you could use some inventive spirit on your staff. So, how do you try to foster a culture of innovation, creativity and inventiveness?
Here are some good practices for sparking innovative ideas among your employees:
Host quarterly “pitch” meetings
You can make innovation and creativity an expectation by holding regular meetings in which employees are encouraged to challenge the status quo and bring new ideas to the table. This can be used in a variety of ways, whether to find better ways to run the company, to serve customers or to brainstorm new products or services. If you have a specific business challenge you’re trying to solve, why not get your employees to help tackle it? Your best ideas and solutions often come from employees on the front lines.
Pay for—and recognize—the best ideas
You can incentivize your employees to be inventors by offering a bonus to those who come up with new ideas that the business adopts. That bonus could be $50 or $1,000––whatever makes sense for your business. Likewise, try to recognize your employee innovators by sending out an internal message giving them credit for their great idea or taking them out to lunch.
Make collaboration easier
The technology you use at your business can make a “meeting of the minds” easy—or hard. Consider using a collaboration solution such as Slack that allows you to create specific channels in which employees discuss particular topics and can easily offer potential solutions to problems or new ideas.
Give employees some creative down time
It’s hard to be creative when your schedule is crammed. Consider building designated time into the workweek when employees can focus on dreaming up new ideas for their own jobs or departments. Perhaps it’s an hour every Friday afternoon when employees are commissioned to figure out ways to do their job more efficiently or come up with new marketing or customer service strategies. You can make it low-key so they don't feel pressured to always have the next big idea, but also make it easy for them to bring up new ideas (whether you have an "ideas box" in the office or a designated online message board.)
Creating a workplace culture that embraces innovation is appropriate to pretty much every business today. With so much change in the world, it’s good that you and your employees are nimble and willing to think outside the box.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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