What happy employees have to do with business innovation

When we are running our own business we focus on providing a product and/or a service that satisfies customers and solves a problem on the market. That means offering the best price-to-benefit ratio that is possible (mainly because of globalization and heavy competition). For most companies that is only what matters. They do not realize is that there is something crucial missing.

Aside from focusing on customers and their needs, employees are just as important. They have their own, individual needs, wants and aspirations. The workplace is something you can have great influence over.

Don’t minimalize it to a higher salary. Money is one of the important factors for sure, but with the new generations, more aspects appear to play an important role. It takes commitment, creativity and not that much investing as you may think. Here are some (very simple) strategies for keeping your employees satisfied, happy and productive.

Work-life balance

It is all about balance. People can work themselves to the bone and that serves no one, especially in the long run. I experienced that in my employment. Work overload – all day, every day – it just doesn’t work. Employees need to be engaged in their work. You can accomplish that by creating an environment where they can feel a connection with the organization and their work. The main goal is to create the environment for your employees that keeps them returning to work with a smile and a reinvigorated drive.

The innovation spark

The culture of a company will dictate the relation and approach your employees to take towards innovation. The more you promote innovation in your company the higher the chances of it resulting in something concrete. Remember, happy employees, are more open to sharing their ideas.

Three important aspects of innovation:

  • innovative ability, the willingness to innovate and innovation potential. These are the three dimensions that work together in order to create a synergistic effect.
  • promoting creativity within the workforce. This can be achieved through innovation-promoting management and increasing employee abilities through the development of knowledge. Usual paths of thinking need to give way to innovative, out-of-the-box thinking.
  • innovation always needs that final seal of approval from the high up. A framework that is open to innovation must be set in place in order for the employees to have ample opportunity to think, but most importantly, act innovatively and creatively. One of the global retailers has an ongoing contest for employees. Every month they are sharing their ideas on “how to do things better and move the company forward”, the best ideas are rewarded and IMPLEMENTED.

Non-monetary factors

For holiday gifts or other special occasions, solid cash can seem like a great idea. The thing is, it is too impersonal and GENERIC. You expect innovation from your employees so you should be innovative yourself. Those boring and common ideas can give off a signal that the person itself and his/her desires and individuality are not recognized and appreciated. Research shows that non-cash rewards are much more memorable (Unless the employee actually has some major expenses / financial trouble). A great way to show recognition towards an employee is a simple handwritten note. You think that this is so energy absorbing and impossible to do? It can be as simple as a handwritten note. No one is doing it – great points for you.

Team-building events

You think about customer experience, how about employee experience? Give your team a way to interact with each other and mingle, everyone will have a great time and can do some work too. Development trips with my infuture.fashion team? Inspiring destination, team-building exercises, innovation workshops, ready to use ideas for your company development – you can’t go wrong with it. Ok, you don’t need to travel at all. Pizza parties, casual attire day will do the job too. You can’t really compare the value you get from this investment but it’s better to do something than waiting for your team to collapse.

Building careers

Having a job just so you can say you have one is never a satisfactory outlook on one’s career. Employees want to develop a career, inside the company they work for. They want to develop new skills and build upon existing ones. Training and development are the ways to go to enable employees to reach that desirable position. New generations will gladly accept a tad smaller pay if it means that there are realistic chances for advancement. By investing in your employee’s careers you will make them happy, productive and fulfilled. But don’t promise an advancement just to keep them. Empty promises will be quickly verified.

If employees feel that they are the key part of a bigger picture, you are fulfilling one of the most basic human needs. The sense of belonging and self-actualization is what drives people. Happy employees will be glad to return to the workplace and put their best.

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