As the inflation crisis carries on, the Fed continues to raise interest rates, and the possibility of an economic downturn subsists, companies — and their employees — are feeling the heat. The pandemic-induced pivot to remote work has altered the workplace significantly, and many feel the weight of that shift.
While some workers have been able to adapt to ever-changing industries, others are quitting or shifting industries amid the Great Resignation. Innovation is crucial for companies and employees to stand the test of time, retain employees, and continue to thrive. Innovation not only keeps a company afloat but also keeps employees engaged.
The pandemic proved that innovation is crucial at all times, even when treading water seems difficult. With the Great Resignation ongoing, innovation can be the glue that holds a team together. Employees need to feel and be engaged to thrive in their roles, develop professionally, prepare for the future, and feel skilled and competent.
So how do you fuel innovation and employee experience as a result? Here are a few strategies to consider.
1. Create an innovation capsule.
During the pandemic, Cosmetics Solutions, a contract manufacturer for aspiring and established brands looking to create commercial value, created an innovation capsule to keep its innovation pipeline moving. An innovation capsule is an exclusive box that offers brands the chance to experience carefully curated face and body products that showcase the expertise, insight, and imagination that comes with a Cosmetic Solutions Innovation Lab partnership, according to Courtney Regan, director of global marketing and brand development at Cosmetic Solutions.
Through this innovation capsule, the cosmetic industry leader learned many different lessons. For one, they saw that customers would still buy online. However, they crave human interaction.
Cosmetic Solutions also saw that looking for white space could produce new products and packaging elements. When you know what is missing in the market or on your team, it is easier to find ways to innovate.
Finally, they found that consumers want brands to stand for something. In fact, research done by the Harris Poll showed 82% of shoppers want a company’s values to align with their own.
How companies put these insights to use will only fuel innovation. Innovation is best spun from fact and research. And when you can’t do it all on your own, look for partners.
2. Look for co-creator opportunities.
Let’s take toy manufacturer LEGO as an example of this. LEGO struggled with a difficult financial situation in the early 2000s due to brand dilution, but it opted to begin crowdsourcing its design ideas. Ultimately, LEGO became co-creators with its very own customer base, which eventually helped the brand rebound. This also provided a pathway forward for teams grappling with their own need for innovation.
Working in teams is crucial — whether it is with collaborators inside the company or out. Collaboration also allows for more idea generation. How you bring your teams together as a leader is critical for innovation.
3. Practice “innovation parenting.”
Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company recommends innovation parenting as a tactic to bring teams together and generate new ideas — as well as to foster additional freedom and social bandwidth for workers.
With remote work now at the forefront, employees crave human interaction opportunities. Innovation parenting requires leaders to think about and pay attention to innovators’ social development and those social interaction opportunities. Social interaction and exchanges build innovation energy, McKinsey says. By encouraging relationships with colleagues, leaders can help individuals realize where their work fits in within the company.
It is a leader’s responsibility is to foster employee engagement. Innovation parenting and creating social interaction opportunities are key to creating employee engagement.
Employee engagement is critical to innovation, and innovation is critical to employee engagement. It is an ever-evolving cycle. And leaders play a crucial role in fostering that innovation and employee engagement.