It’s no surprise that using innovation helps engage your employees. We’d like to unpack that idea further and show that innovation is achievable for everyone.
When you hear the word “innovation,” you might think fancy tech, uniquely renovated workspaces, and unlimited vacation time. If so, you’re not alone. Some of the perks lauded as innovations are expensive and, some would argue, excessive. With that standard of innovation, it may seem that you can never manage to innovate in your workplace.
Achievable Innovations that will Engage Your Employees
However, that’s simply not true. Innovation is achievable on even a shoestring budget, and it doesn’t always require great change to implement. Here are five achievable workplace innovations that will engage your employees without investing too much money or time.
1. Mobility/remote work
With the advent of laptops and cellphones, allowing employees to work from anywhere is a cinch. Some companies balk at the idea of remote or mobile work, citing abuse and lack of oversight. However, many workers would appreciate the ability to work remotely, and with the advent of WiFi, smartphones, and VPNs, there’s really no excuse not to offer this innovation.
Of course, not all work can be done from the bus or at home, but you’d be surprised at how much can be. Just make sure your employees can access what they need through a secure, remote connection.
2. Private spaces
For a long time, open workspaces were considered innovative, but the tables are turning. While open workspaces encourage interaction and save money on walls and furniture, they can also negatively affect productivity. One study found that working in an open space could cause “’high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure, and a high staff turnover.’”
If you already have an open workspace, it may be too costly to completely change the layout, but you can still provide small private areas where employees can shirk the open layout to make phone calls or work on their laptops.
Flexibility is a holy grail of workplace innovation. Employees may be hesitant to leave a job where they can set their own schedules, even if they’re otherwise dissatisfied in their roles. And it’s no wonder—besides the obvious benefits of work-life balance, flexibility can result in overall better work, which benefits both the employee and the workplace.
You may worry that if you offer your employees a flexible schedule, you won’t be able to oversee them working. It’s okay not to have direct oversight all the time! Your employees are professionals, and unless their roles involve working face-to-face with others, there’s no reason that they should be working 9:00 to 5:00 instead of working 7:00 to 3:00, or working a split shift, or putting in four hours today and nine every other day this week.
Some studies and surveys have linked disengagement to poor or unsatisfactory training. If you’re always on the lookout for the newest, best, most innovative training, that’s one great way to increase your engagement. However, you may be overlooking the easily accessible benefits of mentoring.
Mentoring means pairing a more experienced worker with a less experienced worker to show them the ropes and help them grow in their role. It can be useful both in the crucial onboarding stage and later in an employee’s career. Another benefit to this well-known but little-used innovation? While the mentee becomes engaged and thus less likely to leave, so does the mentor.
5. Streamlined processes
Innovate your processes! Are they the best they can be? If you’re reading this, then the answer is probably no, they’re not, so now’s a good time to reexamine. What can you do to make workflows less frustrating, more interesting, and more satisfying to your employees?
This innovation can be hard. Many departments, companies, and even industries don’t like change. However, it’s a rare workplace that wouldn’t benefit from continuous improvement. Reevaluating your processes and making innovative adjustments as needed keeps your employees engaged. It can even encourage them to be thinking of potential changes on their own.
Even if you don’t have a ton of money to spend, you can keep your employees engaged through simple and more inexpensive innovations. Sure, you won’t be Facebook, but you’ll still see benefits as you innovate.