Stagnate and die: Investing in innovation

by 05 Jun 2013

The want for innovation is a growing trend amongst young employees. As the next generation further influences the workforce, a new study from Futurestep has found staff won’t stick around if their employer isn’t breaking new ground.

The study, which covered 4,000 employees from around the world, found that 44% would be more likely to leave an organisation that did not innovate within the first six months of employment. Additionally, 49% of employees are more likely to take positions advertised in an original way.

If that wasn’t enough, the study found that 74% of Australian employees would be more likely to become motivated at work if they were engaged and developed innovatively, whilst 49% stated a cutting-edge approach to recruitment would give them a more positive outlook on the company overall.

With only 25% of Australian employees feeling their organisation is ahead of the game, many businesses are going to need to take note. The study found 74% of Australian employees expected innovation in staff development and over 80% in retention and engagement. Companies such as Apple, Google, Coca Cola and Facebook were branded as ‘innovation idols’.

Nick Simcock, managing director of Futurestep in Australia and New Zealand, feels employers need to take the findings seriously. “Investing in new and interesting ways to recruit, engage and develop staff has the potential to provide real value to a business in the form of getting the best people and getting them to perform at their best,” he stated. “Without it, employees will look elsewhere to someone that is offering an innovation led career path.”  

Nigel Collin, author of Herding Monkeys, recently advised HC that HR plays a key role in clarifying what innovation means, and tying it to a key ingredient: creativity. Most people jump to the conclusion that innovation is radical and ‘big bang’, the things that change the world; others believe it’s incremental – a small change that may lead to bigger things.

Yet ultimately Collin suggested creativity is about ideas; innovation is the implementation of ideas. When that connection is made, it’s easier for people to participate.


Key HR take-aways:

Nigel Collin outlined the key steps to unlock innovation from your employees:

Permission: Most people in the workplace don’t feel comfortable thinking differently, fearing ridicule or negative ramifications. Creating a culture or a policy giving permission to staff to come up with new ideas – as well as failing without consequence – Is important.

Environment: Although a physical ‘thinking space’ is important, the mental environment is crucial. Allowing people room to think, as well as the time (ideas don’t work 9-5) and establishing a culture of collaboration will see the juices start to flow.

Process: Ideas can’t flourish if they aren’t allowed to go anywhere. Most begin rough and imperfect, so rejecting them early on is a mistake. Allowing for an idea to be refined through a process pipe-line and having an ‘ideas champion’ can result in just the thing you were looking for to pop-out on the other end.


  • by Mike from Funergizers 5/06/2013 6:55:29 PM

    Great to see that creativity and innovation is becoming a necessary requirement to engaging staff. We have also liked Richard Branson's quote "To have an innovative business, you first have to let your staff play". Play is a really powerful tool to switching on the creative side.

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