Is your workplace really built for innovation?

Organizations that succeed are those that constantly improve themselves and their offerings. But don’t expect the few people at the top to be responsible for all the interesting new thinking in the organization.

Is your work built for innovation

After all, it’s generally the people closest to the problem — and the customer — who are closest to the best solution. Encouraging ideas from all over the organization helps each individual employee reach their full potential.

And this strengthens the culture by increasing trust and buy-in. When employees are empowered this way, they feel safe to take calculated risks and chase continuous improvement.

Only 60% of employees at average organizations responded positively to the Innovation statement on an Energage Survey. But at Top Workplaces, this jumps to 80% or 90%.

Quick fixes

  • Invite everybody to share ideas, and treat their ideas as equitably as possible.
  • Celebrate the source of the idea when it succeeds, celebrate learnings if it doesn’t.
  • Make it safe to share all ideas — good or bad — with brainstorming sessions.

Big picture plans

  • Create a real-time "open door" channel for generating and capturing new ideas.
  • Build a formal process to collect and consider new ideas (or reach out about ours!). • Form dedicated volunteer “innovation committees” to help act on employee ideas.
  • Encourage employees and teams to dedicate time to innovation every week.
  • Tie every new change or idea to your mission and values.

Watch for warning signs

  • Employees who are worried about change. Human brains are wired for this — that is, unless we had a part in planning the change.
  • Failing to act on the new ideas you receive. Not all ideas will fit your strategy, but encourage employees to work with peers to improve ideas and eliminate obstacles.
  • Not recognizing that ideas can — and should — come from anywhere and anyone. Often, customers and your frontline have the most valuable and interesting ideas.
  • Employees who don't feel safe offering new ideas. Encouraging suggestions starts with your culture, which starts with leadership.

Laura Brinton is content marketing director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces. To nominate your company as a Top Workplace, go to

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