How to make your employees have innovative ideas? 4 useful methods

Jan 19, 2017

The biggest companies in the technology industry (and other industries as well) are known for constantly investing in the development of their employees, whom they see as the most precious element in the functioning of the entire corporate machinery. What is it that they do to foster their employees’ ingenuity and promote innovative thinking?

Internal training

Latest research has shown that internal training for employees brings numerous measurable benefits and contributes to employees’ attachment to the company. According to HR Magazine (a US-based association of HR specialists), companies that invest additional $1,500 a year in their employees make 24% more profit than companies that don’t (it additionally entails greater risk per an employee and greater returns for shareholders).

However, if you want to create an effective training programme for your employees, you need the knowledge of how to increase their involvement and what to do to fully use their potential. What will help is an analysis of data concerning workplace education and cooperation with training specialists.

Online platform for knowledge exchange, or: go for e-learning

This could be a sort of company online university – a place where employees can access all essential educational materials and communicate with each other to exchange information. Remember that training should take into account both professional development opportunities for the employees as well as support their individual competencies (this means an example of ideal training could focus on using non-standard technical tools in solving new problems and at the same time reinforce personal qualities of, for instance, the team leader who is to take the training). Knowledge exchange is at the basis of modern management in every organisation.

Organise regular hackathons

Hackathons are one of the best ways to promote innovative thinking among your employees. It does not necessarily mean only programming contests – codefests can be successfully introduced also in departments that do not normally do programming. Such an internal hackathon can last for several hours up to an entire working day; the time is usually sufficient to effectively work on a specific project (for example creating a new landing page from scratch that would promote the current trends in the company). Such one-day events are a great opportunity for employees to learn from each other, exchange their experience, and get a chance to work on innovative business ideas they don’t normally have time for.

What should a hackathon be like to effectively fulfil its function? As Paweł Kwiatkowski from explains, it “should inspire, entertain, and boost creativity and healthy competition.” It won’t hurt to order a lot of good food and drink for the participants (Facebook usually orders Chinese food), set up prizes, and decorate the workspace differently than usual.

Set up a virtual chronicle of the company

This could be in the form of the company’s calendar of chronicle where the most important events and achieved or future goals are published. It can be used as a great marketing tool to promote the friendly work environment in your company. A training aspect of such a chronicle could involve using past points for educational purposes at a future workshop. It can also serve as a great (and credible!) promotional material presenting authentic activities aimed at increasing your employees’ satisfaction with the work they’re doing.

And then you’re just a few steps away from storytelling, that is, personal narration of the members of your team and organisation that contributes to your brand awareness. Nothing speaks better of your company’s work culture than your employees’ individual success stories – how after eight months with the company an initially withdrawn java developer became a successful tech lead, or how after half a year a junior designer came up with a brilliant idea for a brand refresh.

But above all – don’t be restrictive. Rigid frames of hiring employees, allocating them a single small desk, and talking to them once a year about a possible pay rise are long since outdated – the most innovative and creative companies in Poland and in the world strive for their employees to feel they’re part of something bigger than just being a cog in the machine.