How could we drive the change towards a more innovative work culture for staff in our organization?

How do you create an innovative culture in the workplace? It’s a question that regularly plagues HR leaders and people managers.

Removing the fear of failure and encouraging collaboration are essential but more is needed to overcome the innovation challenge.

Employees are at the heart of innovation. As a result, employee experience needs to be exceptional in order to foster an innovative culture.

When it comes to meeting the needs and wants of employees, there is an astounding disparity between how well companies think they perform and their actual performance – this is called the experience gap. This impacts employee motivation, which is a key challenge faced by employers worldwide.

Qualtrics’ recent Employee Pulse study found low employee motivation is prevalent in Malaysia and Singapore, where half the workforce is unsatisfied at work.

At the same time, an era where the C-Suite is recognizing that employees have become key to driving innovation and creating exceptional customer experiences is being witnessed.

This paradigm shift in mindset needs to be supported by an even greater technology shift. Today, HR teams need unprecedented, real-time, and intelligent insight into the employee experience.

As HR leaders embark on this transformation, they will benefit from following these three steps:

Step 1 – Close the information gap between employers and employees

A lack of information sharing across business units and hierarchical levels is the biggest roadblock to workplace innovation. If an organization does not have a culture of feedback, it is important to invest time and resources to build a foundation of mutual trust first.

To achieve this, organizations must build a digital open door that enables employees to provide feedback and voice their concerns easily and efficiently using intelligent feedback and data collection platforms. This means collecting data at different stages of the employee lifecycle, such as 180-degree performance review surveys, 360-degree evaluations, onboarding feedback, and exit surveys.

Open text format is also a great channel to enable employees to give more specific feedback. Today, artificial intelligence and natural language processing have made it possible to discover patterns and trends within open text. These advanced analytics allow managers to save time on analyzing feedback manually thus channeling more time to devise solutions that quickly resolve problems.

Critical to achieving success in this initial step is engaging the right stakeholders from the very beginning — getting decision makers and business leaders on board early will improve buy-in and increase participation rates.

Step 2 – Empower managers with technology so they can take action

Companies need to ensure that innovative ideas get presented to the right decision makers. New digital technologies provide powerful platforms that not only capture insights but also deliver them to those who can make the biggest impact – managers and leaders.

When managers have access to role-based, real-time, dynamic dashboards for their teams, they can then intervene to improve the experiences of the people under their leadership.

Employee experience platforms empower managers in every business unit to receive feedback from their teams and be able to specifically analyze employee data to derive actionable insights. A clear representation of the gathered information will provide the relevant context to further help make decisions that enable organizations identify bottlenecks to developing an innovative culture.

Step 3 – Build a measurable, predictable and actionable workplace

Talent development affects an organization’s key metrics like productivity, engagement and attrition. It is essential to join the dots and see how employee development initiatives are impacting the business that keeps staff engaged, productive and loyal for longer.

One should not underestimate the power of harnessing experience data – the opinions, beliefs, and sentiments of the employees. Combining this experience data – otherwise known as X-data – with operational data (O-data) equips businesses with the rare insight they need to design and deliver an exceptional employee experience to consequently drive the intended innovative work culture.

By combining O-data with employee X-data, all leaders can better understand the thoughts and emotions of their employees at moments that truly matter to them. This will help them to make informed decisions about how to convert their highly engaged employees to passionate brand ambassadors.

Integration leads to innovation

Gallup found that it would take four engaged employees to counter the effect of one disengaged employee. This is highly reliant on the abilities of managers to effectively align the motivation and engagement levels of employees to their business goals.

This will be achieved by fostering open communication across business units and understanding the unique needs of each group of employees.

How managers systematically, deliberately and consistently gather and act upon employee X-data and O-data defines the extent to which they can develop an innovative work culture to achieve long-term organizational success.