See If It Means the Same As For You
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs
In the business environment, innovation is just as vital to a business, as it is in a similar way to human evolution. Without innovation, positive evolution can hardly take place. Though, even innovation has to take a direction and head to a certain something, or, spelled with other words, you have to know what to innovate. Otherwise, you risk going down on a path with a dead-end.
As a business owner and an employer, your workload can be defined as anything else but little. The balance between business success and employee satisfaction has to stay equally inclined at all times, with no major fluctuations on one side or another.
Business success is something that emerges from a good business strategy, which you implement correctly, analyze and improve if needed. The business strategy has to prove itself to be profitable on a long-term basis, in order to be able to speak of business success.
The business strategy is composed, on its own, of many key concepts like a clear business objective, a business plan, a marketing strategy, a HR policy and many more. Of course, innovation is one of those concepts. Innovation has to find its place in the middle of your business strategy, since, without it, your business risks being stuck in an infinite loop composed of the same tactics, procedures and mechanics.
While innovation takes place on many business levels, it’s worth paying attention to the combo formed of your employees versus innovation. Since employees are a core component of your business, it’s important to have an exact idea of what innovation means to them. In many cases, employers and employees perceive everything related to a business in totally different ways. A change in the business, such as moving your primary headquarter to a foreign country, may seem like the perfect solution for the employer, but the employees will most likely not be thrilled about having to move or to abandon their job in the worst case scenario.
How do you find out what innovation means to your employees?
There has been a time when business owners just assumed they knew everything about their employees, speaking from a business point of view. Business owners thought they can sense their employees’ needs, desires and problems on the go, without even asking them. That is why it has come many times to unhappy employees who left their jobs because they felt like they’re not being valued, like they got stuck regarding their career or like they simply needed a business environment change.
A thoughtful business owner foresees these trends and takes the right measures to not let things go so far in terms of employee dissatisfaction. Many of our customers at 123ContactForm use employee surveys to clarify everything related to feedback gathering, opinion research towards certain issues and many more.
The advantage of doing such research like surveys among your employees, meaning asking them how they see innovation for your company, has multiple advantages. One of them has already been mentioned – knowing these issues, you avoid being taken by surprise by massive employee dissatisfaction and company leave. Other advantages are:
- You hear the employee’s opinion directly from them, without risking it to be altered on the way to you.
- It is an organized process of opinion gathering, being fast and reliable, and providing the appropriate means for analyzing the collected submissions.
- You have the chance to confront your picture of the company innovation with the one of your employees.
- Problems and issues can be found quickly, before producing potential damage.
- You can operate changes and improve different parts of your business by relying on direct feedback and concrete data.
- As a company owner, you can identify new directions to follow on the path to innovation. Be it towards streamlining work procedures or acquiring a new technology, your employees are often the closest ones to perceive a welcomed measure
Where could your employees sense the need for innovation?
Businesses differ a lot one from each other. Thus, it’s not fair to say that what applies to one does so to another. However, certain points have shown to have the potential of being problematic for some companies. The most common areas, where employees welcome changes or even ask for them, are:
- Working equipment and technology: Sometimes, companies operate with equipment or technology that doesn’t best match the needs of the employees. Be it that they require a newer technology for delivering their work according to your standards, or even for improving it and raising company effectiveness, or that they just need a different type of equipment that would help them work with a better outcome.
- Company workspace: Offices, working spaces and even relaxing areas have to be laid out correctly. Employees may find the need to rearrange working spaces or to add some functionality. A larger office, more natural light or some couches for power naps can be the change that drives up results from your employees.
- Work procedures: In most cases, companies need clear work procedures. While these are set by the management team and have to be respected by all staff members, sometimes they can get outdated. It might be more effective to send the product from fabrication to verification, instead of packaging, for example. Or to skip a process if it turned out to be unnecessary. Innovating work procedures can help raise business success.
- Business communication: Good communication, both on vertical (between the management and the staff) and on horizontal levels (between employees with similar positions), is critical to a business. Communication failure can tear a business apart, therefore you have to make sure your communication policy takes the best shape possible. Innovating it by adding a quicker communication channel such as an internal chat, an online feedback form or other tools like web conferencing, might have the power to produce results you didn’t even dream of.
- Employee benefits: Look at examples of businesses that started offering gym subscriptions, spa entrances or travel facilities to their employees. In many cases, offering just a little something like a free lunch can increase employee loyalty, hence, also raise their dedication towards your business. From here, better work outcome is just a logical consequence.
The list of areas you can innovate in your company can of course go on, depending on each business. But the main thing to keep in mind is that asking your employees about all of these points can bring you loads of benefits. After all, what’s the point of doing something that isn’t necessary, while something that could have truly helped has been ignored?
Image courtesy of Ppiboon/freedigitalphotos.net
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Sabina Stoiciu is a blogger writing on business topics and hoping to help the small business & entrepreneur world. She also works for 123ContactForm, the online form and survey builder dedicated to support businesses through aiding streamline their workflows. She tweets from @SabinaStoiciu.