Culture key to innovation

by 08 Jun 2007

STRENGTHS DEVELOPMENT can be a powerful factor in creating and sustaining a workplace culture that allows innovation to prosper and flourish – and employee engagement can intensify this effect, according to recent US research.

It found that 30 per cent of employees felt their organisation was committed to building their strengths, and of these employees, 54 per cent thought their current job brings out their most creative ideas.

In contrast, of the nearly 50 per cent of workers who did not feel that their organisation was committed to building their strengths, only 1 in 10 strongly believed their current job brings out their most creative ideas.

Companies that want to create a culture that drives innovation must do more than develop employee strengths, according to Gallup, which conducted the study of more than 1,000 US employees.

If creativity is to thrive, companies and supervisors need to be receptive to new ideas. Fifty-eight per cent of employees who said that their organisation is committed to building their strengths also said that their employer encourages new ideas that defy conventional wisdom.

Similarly, when respondents were asked if their supervisor focuses on their strengths and if their company encourages new ideas that defy conventional wisdom, almost half (48 per cent) said that both conditions were present in their work life.

The impact of these factors – focusing on strengths and encouraging new ideas – was even more evident. Sixty-five percent of all engaged employees stated that their organisation is committed to building employee strengths and encourages new ideas that defy conventional wisdom.

Among actively disengaged employees, this number plummets to a mere 2 per cent.

The research also found managers play a role in spurring creativity among employees. Just over half (51 per cent) of employees felt that their manager focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics and strongly agreed that they feed off the creativity of their colleagues.

Fewer than 1 in 10 actively disengaged workers who disagreed that strengths were a focus strongly agreed that they feed off the creativity of their coworkers.

Strong friendships at work pay off for businesses in significant ways, according to Gallup. Employees who have best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.

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