What makes those famous Silicon Valley companies attract and keep top talent? Given a choice, the talent went to work for Google, Facebook or Apple. What made them do that? Most people will argue that it's the competitive pay or extra benefits (such as free meals), but I have to disagree. These businesses all have the factor of innovation on side, allowing their staff to think big and to perform in fresh and new areas.
The result is ‘belonging,” the knowledge that they are part of something and their opinions matter. I am a firm believer that innovation is undeniably effective as a motivator. Maybe you are thinking you can't possibly afford to have a workplace powered by innovation, but that's where you would be wrong. I'll go through five ways you can bring innovation to your workplace, attracting and keeping the best local talent, however big or small your company is.
1) The Half-Hour Rule
Half-an-hour-per-day might not seem affordable to grant your staff in addition to their usual break, but trust me, this isn't a sit-off. The half-hour rule is an idea I formed and used in most businesses I've been involved in, and it is the single most productive thing you can do.
Give your staff a half-hour break to work on their own projects for the company. Maybe those ideas won't come to anything, but that isn't what the half hour is about. It is about drive and motivation, the ability to innovate, for whatever job you have in the business.
As strange as it sounds, you can effectively use the half-hour rule in industries such as banking, retail and real estate. The time can be used to come up with new marketing plans, new products or anything else. The idea is that the staff will then look forward to work as they know the half-hour is coming where they can work on what they want to.
2) Let Employees Talk
No, it isn't a good idea for everyone in the workplace to sit and chat about nothing in particular, but if you can lead them to focus the conversation on their ideas and their jobs, this could be an excellent way to improve motivation and innovation. Communication is a big part of business culture, so cutting all ties between colleagues is a bad idea, however justified the reasoning is.
3) Diversity and Community
Whenever possible, group employees together for projects. Try to create diverse teams who don't usually talk socially. You might be surprised by how well they work together, and the results could be completely new and exciting.
A business shouldn't just operate to only sell. For the workforce, it should be a community. It should be a hub of diverse people with different opinions. A good leader won’t need to hire a "like-minded" team, because a good leader is not just a boss. They are a teacher and they should be teaching their staff to use their different opinions in a way that works to create something truly unique.
4) Unique Workplaces
Obviously, I am not suggesting you get a big Google-style slide installed in your HQ, or that you make a tree house meeting room like Social Chain. Even installing a ping-pong or pool table would immensely improve your innovative corporate culture. It may show the staff that you believe they are important. It allows them to enjoy their time at the company, and happy staff are more likely to come up with good ideas and work harder.
5) Positive Reinforcement
If a member of your staff completes a task, congratulate and thank them. Even if they made a small mistake (like using the wrong font in a PowerPoint), you should still thank them. Make the mistake a suggestion of improvement rather than something you have to shout at them over.
Appreciation is the greatest reward.
One guy I worked with in an entertainment business once told me:
Instead of pushing people when they're down, help to lift them up.”
It was the mindset that drove his companies, and I noticed the staffs seemed a lot happier and more open to idea formation. Negativity has its place, but positivity is more important.
About the Author
Callum Grady is a business award winner and mentor who's worked with numerous start-ups over the years. He is the President and Chairman of Logical Entertainment, a company that aims to create the very best audio, written, artistic and video entertainment. Callum is passionate always eager to connect with others. He especially enjoys working with talented musicians and brainstorming TV show ideas. Callum serves as the Financial Director of an entertainment equipment rental company, Retail Rental.