Promote competitions and open debates

The key to stimulating innovation among employees is to offer platforms, such as a “suggestion box”, an open debate or a competition, in which they can express their ideas. Employees, if they have the opportunity to present their proposals to managers, will feel more taken into consideration and involved in business decisions.

As the British Airways example shows, such competitions are particularly effective if they focus on a specific problem that needs resolution. To further motivate employees, you need to think about how to enhance the winning idea, for example with a cash reward or an award of recognition. Once you have chosen the best idea, it is important to implement it by giving life to tangible initiatives and products. This is proof that the company is trustworthy and will inspire staff to participate in future innovation programs.

Create a stimulating work environment
Needless to deny, a drab workstation is not the most adequate space to foster innovation. Companies should inspire employees by providing a visually stimulating work environment.

The presence of works of art in the workplace has been shown to be an important factor in fostering an innovation mindset. 64% of respondents believe that art in the workplace stimulates creativity and productivity, while even 77% agree that a stimulating work environment can broaden the horizons of employees, as well as encourage dialogue and the free expression of ideas.

However, an exclusive collection of works of art is unlikely to be part of the future plans of most companies. However, thanks to new advances in inkjet technology, businesses can bring a touch of vitality to their offices at a reduced cost. Large format printing solutions allow you to print on virtually any surface imaginable, including canvas, glass and metal, opening up a world of possibilities in office design. Similarly, video projectors can be used to project any colorful image, in order to liven up monotonous and flat work environments.
While these four tips may seem pretty simple, their implementation requires dedication and commitment.

This is especially true for larger, established organizations, where structural barriers and formal procedures can pose a real challenge to implementing innovation driven primarily by staff. In this case, for companies wishing to implement the ideas outlined above, it is essential that there is full support from the management of the organization. Supporting these efforts, as long as they are implemented consistently, will produce important benefits in terms of a more stimulating and engaging work environment and transforming a company’s future.

Tips for employee-driven innovation

Asset of any company is its people. Modern products and services can give businesses a temporary competitive advantage, but to ensure the continued success of a business, an innovative workforce is required. but it is something that involves people within the company, so that they identify and seize development opportunities.

There are several future-oriented companies that are already reaping the benefits of employee-driven innovation. British Airways, for example, has introduced an online “suggestion box” to collect suggestions from employees on how to further reduce emissions and fuel costs. Among the 200 ideas received, one in particular suggested descaling the bathroom pipes of the aircraft: thanks to the reduction in weight and the better conditions of the on-board toilets, the airline was able to save more than 850 thousand pounds. Another example is Amazon, which created the Amazon Prime annual membership program following a tip from staff. Since customers, once they became Prime members, typically spent 150% more, the profits increased significantly.

That highlight how companies, by listening to the needs of employees, can increase the competitiveness, efficiency and quality of products and services. Based on my experience as Business Director of Epson’s Visual Instruments Division, I believe that any business can drive staff-driven innovation with the help of four helpful tips.