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Five ways to boost workplace innovation

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Five ways to boost workplace innovation

With the cost of doing business rising, workplace innovation can deliver a range of benefits to your organisation. It’s an incredibly effective way to increase efficiency, boost productivity and retain talent. Our Business Support Services Team Leader Helen Noble shares five ways to help maximise the potential of your workforce by improving workplace practices.

“Workplace innovation can deliver great economic benefits to your business. It can help maximise the potential of your most important resource: your people – ensuring they use the full range of their skills, knowledge, and experience, and supporting them to upskill and grow.”

Helen Noble

What is workplace innovation?

When we hear the word ‘innovation’, we tend to think of products and services, but innovation isn’t limited to what your organisation does. It can also be applied to how your organisation works.

Workplace Innovation brings together an organisation’s people and processes to create a culture where staff are fully engaged and supported to reach their potential, creating fair, innovative and transformative jobs that benefit everyone.

As such, workplace innovation isn’t ‘one’ thing. Instead, it encompasses a diverse range of workplace practices, and is a holistic approach to developing skills, people, jobs, and management to deliver benefits to both the organisation and the people who work there.

Fundamentally, workplace innovation is a process – it isn’t a state that you achieve as a business. It’s an ongoing journey to improving your workplace practices and processes so your organisation and its people can benefit.

Find out about our workplace innovation support

Why is it important?

Workplace innovation can help your organisation maximise the potential of its most important resource: your people. Ensuring your employees can use the full range of their skills, knowledge, and experience, and supporting them to upskill and grow, can deliver great economic benefits.

What benefits can workplace innovation deliver?

There are many benefits to workplace innovation for both your employees and your organisation, such as:

  • Improved Leadership
  • Higher levels of performance
  • Cost reduction
  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Talent retention
  • Increased trust
  • Increased participation in decision making
  • Improved wellbeing

Five ways to boost your workplace innovation

Learn five ways to boost your workplace innovation. Our experts offer a range of support covering all five topics from masterclasses to expert advice and grant support.


1. Develop your leadership

A huge amount of research has been done around effective leadership in driving organisational performance and output, so there’s no doubt about its power. In fact, studies have shown that businesses that invest in leadership can be up to 50% more profitable and productive than those that don’t.

Leaders set the tone for the organisation, they’re responsible for creating the right culture – but that isn’t something you necessarily just know how to do. So, start by thinking about:

  • Leadership approach: is your organisation one with a values-based approach? This means ensuring decisions are made in line with the core values at every level. This helps to instil these values into the workforce and has been shown to boost trust, relationships and productivity and effectiveness.
  • Social responsibility: do you consider how your decisions have a wider impact? Beyond creating the right culture in the workplace, having an awareness of the way your business is impacting the wider environment and taking steps to improve this is a key factor in many employees’ choice of who they work for, and is part of being a socially inclusive organisation.

2. Create learning opportunities

Innovation comes from people, and it’s at its best when those people are trained to maximise their potential and the potential of the equipment they’re working with. Learning and development opportunities are valued by talent and, in turn, make that talent feel valued.

Consider the following:

  • Training opportunities: are these available to all staff? It may not seem like a financial priority but investing in people benefits to your business in many ways, such as increased commitment, reduced attrition, higher levels of individual and collective performance, greater flexibility, improved productivity.
  • Are you providing a range of learning opportunities, delivered to suit the individual? Learning can take place in lots of way, not just formal training courses. Buddy up people from different parts of the organisation to share their skills and knowledge, create cross organisational team to tackle problems/implement improvements, create a mentoring programme where experienced workers can mentor apprentices.

3. Manage your talent

The greatest asset of any organisation is its people. Whatever your product or service, whatever degree of technology it uses, all businesses need talented people to help deliver its output.
Ensuring your employees feel that their workplace is inclusive, representative, fulfilling, their growth is supported, their skills are being used effectively, and they have a valued voice, are the best ways to ensure your organisation benefits from its talent.

Some key areas to think about are:

  • Diversity and inclusion: are you ensuring your workplace offers opportunities to a wide range of individuals from all backgrounds, and reflects the environment it operates within? A diverse workplace leads to a more creative and innovative environment. When a company has a diverse range of employees, it brings together different perspectives, experiences, and ideas, which can lead to new and innovative solutions to problems. This can also result in increased productivity and better decision making, as diverse perspectives and ideas can help to challenge and improve upon existing practices.
  • Job design: are your jobs designed to utilise the full range of employees’ skills and experience and give them decision making autonomy? Redesigning them so they do is an excellent way to ensure people are creative, challenged and fulfilled.
  • Fair work and wellbeing: do you offer a range of ways of working to allow for flexibility? Do you have mechanisms in place to ensure your employees have a voice and can influence how their workplace operates? Engaging your employees and providing them with fulfilling and rewarding roles leads to improved performance, increased wellbeing and trust, and boosts retention.

4. Use your resources effectively

Combining these first three elements of leadership development, learning development and talent management, is resource utilisation: ensuring that your organisation is harnessing its people resources in the most effective way. This means thinking about:

  • Talent management: are your maximizing the potential and capabilities of your employees? Ensuring jobs are designed with the skills and experience of the individual in mind, which may mean redesigning existing jobs.
  • Workplace Practices: is your workplace aligned with fair work expectations? This framework is in place to balance the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers and generates mutual benefits for individuals, organisations and society.
  • Training: are you providing appropriate training for employees? Training is often associated with new starters but can be used to upskill existing employees so skills gaps can be filled inhouse and provide career development opportunities.

5. Build new capabilities

Finally, there’s building new capabilities and organisational capacity for innovation, productivity, and resilience. This means looking at how you can improve and implement new workplace practices to create an innovative organization that is able to create new products and services and get them to market quickly, while having the agility to respond to changing market needs.

Achieving this kind of agile, innovative organisation again comes down to your workplace practices, your processes and workforce. So, it’s about asking:

  • Are we upskilling our workforce and using existing skills in the best way?
  • Are we creating an open, inclusive and diverse culture that motivated our people?
  • Are our processes efficient, and are we evaluating them regularly enough?
  • Are our workplaces practices as effective as they could be?

How we've supported other businesses

Helen Noble is a team leader in Scottish Enterprise’s Workplace Innovation Team. With her team, she offers tailored advice and support for businesses looking to better use their most important asset: their people.

Over the past five years, the Scottish Enterprise Workplace Innovation Team have supported:

  • 2500 companies to develop fair and innovative workplace practices within their organisation
  • 900 companies to develop their leaders and managers
  • 900 delegates have attended our events and masterclasses - plus another 650 attended events run jointly with partners
  • Workplace Innovation Engagement Programme resulted in £1.4 million savings from implementing new practices, 6% increase in project profitability, increased employee engagement and participation in problem solving
  • 5000 individuals have benefited from support across our full range of services

Ready to get started?

Find out more about the services we offer and enquire about support.