how to boost your workforce's innovation capability

Research has proven innovation is directly connected to profitability. So how do you hire for an innovative workforce?

Twice as many ‘innovation-active’ businesses – those that develop new or significantly improved goods, services, operational processes or marketing methods – reported an increase in productivity and people employed in 2014, compared to firms that are not innovation active, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In turn, 50% of the more-active innovators reported an increase in profits compared to their non-active counterparts.

The more research done on the topic, the more experts are realising innovation has little to do with white-coat laboratories and everything to do with collaboration across departments. Innovation is not a result of the work done at an individual’s desk, but rather the communication between individuals in communal office spaces, such as chill-out areas and kitchens. Innovation, in other words, is about crowdsourcing.

Talent is crucial to innovation. Randstad’s World of Work 2014 Report – which surveyed 7000 employees and 7000 employers from across Asia-Pacific – found the biggest problem for the region’s businesses is not about making a commitment to innovation, but finding the talent to deliver it. Nearly a quarter of employers said a lack of specialist skills to drive innovation will be a key productivity challenge in the next 12 months. A similar number are also concerned about the lack of a multi-skilled workforce to manage today’s speed of work (27%), as organisations struggle to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology.

In such a competitive talent environment, how do you boost your workforce innovation capability?

1) Nurture innovators
Develop customised learning programs to up-skill your graduates in areas such as creative thinking. 

2) Encourage and reward collaboration
Successful organisations, such as the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team, often build innovation into their KPIs. When innovation is measured, staff and departments are encouraged to collaborate. This could mean working with other departments, freelance consultants or external organisations. However it works, collaboration is a vital driver of innovation.

3) Build diversity
Recent studies by Forbes Magazine, the US-based Center for Innovation and the Australian Research Council have highlighted the importance of workforce diversity in bringing fresh ideas and experiences to help foster innovation. If your workforce consists of employees from similar backgrounds, there's a good chance they think similarly too. 

4) Make decisions quickly
Make slow decisions in this fast moving, technologically-driven world and you have likely left it too late. Get the executive team on board with your innovation program, hire staff who are unafraid to present to senior managers and simplify lines of communication to bring great ideas to market quickly.

Looking to build the size and capability of your workforce? Speak to a Randstad recruitment consultant today. 
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