At its core, innovation is about change. It is about taking something that already exists and changing the way we think about it or how we do it. And while that might sound simple enough, generating new innovative ideas is often more complicated than it sounds.
What is an innovative idea?
It is a unique idea born from a desire to change or simplify a complex issue and pulls us in a new direction. In order to be innovative, an idea needs to offer a fresh perspective or solution to an existing problem or a long-standing issue. It can introduce a new way of thinking about things and make something that was once difficult easier to use or more accessible.
Most importantly, an innovative idea changes the conversation and gets us excited about the potential of what could be — it often disrupts the status quo and challenge the way we see things.
While only some have the vision to change things, many people can develop new valuable ideas at work. These people see a problem and want a better way to do something. They may have some of the answers but are always looking for ways to improve things.
Here are ten examples of innovative ideas in the workplace:
1. Rotate leadership positions on the team
It is easy to underestimate the potential of those around us. We often get comfortable with how things are and assume that everyone is content in their current roles. But the truth is people are constantly growing and changing.
And when we allow them to step into different positions, they often surprise us with their hidden talents and abilities.
That is why rotating leadership positions on your team can be valuable. First, it gives everyone a chance to lead. This benefits those who may not have had the opportunity to do so before.
It allows them to step into a position of authority and learn what it takes to be a leader. And even if they do not become a formal leader down the line, they still learn valuable skills they can use in other areas of their personal and professional lives.
Second, rotating leadership positions also allows people to learn from others. When you are in a leadership role, you have the opportunity to learn from those who are following you.
But when you are following someone else, you also have the chance to learn how they handle situations and make decisions. This can be invaluable for both personal and professional development.
2. Get rid of annual reviews
Good examples of innovative ideas include getting rid of annual reviews and instead having a more continuous feedback process, or using social media platforms to make it easier for people to give and receive regular constructive feedback.
Annual reviews tend to be pretty pointless and do not actually do anything to help employees improve their skills — they are usually nothing more than an opportunity for managers to tell employees what they are doing wrong, and employees typically need to learn something new.
There are two main reasons annual reviews persist, despite their many disadvantages: fear and inertia.
Fear is also a powerful motivator. It is often difficult to change something which has become institutionalized. Annual reviews have been around for a long time, and people are used to them, so it is hard to get rid of them.
Additionally, many companies are afraid to get rid of annual reviews because they need to figure out what else to put in their place. They worry that without formal reviews, employees will never receive any feedback; they will not track employee progress or identify issues before they become big problems.
And most managers often feel like they need to do annual reviews because they are afraid of being seen as not. Some of these are valid concerns, but there are other ways to give employees continuous feedback that do not involve annual reviews.
The truth is that continuous feedback can do just as well — and most times better — than annual reviews.
Constant feedback allows managers and employees to track progress regularly, so any problems can be addressed quickly rather than waiting until the end of the year. It also helps to build a stronger relationship between employees and the manager.
Read also: 16 Examples of Work Performance Strengths
3. Institute a learning day every week
Institute a learning day — it is simple. Just give employees a day every week to learn about anything they want. To ensure everyone gets the most out of the learning day, provide some guidelines or topics that employees can focus on.
Provide a wide range of topics employees can choose from and what learning format would be best for each subject. You could have employees watch videos, read articles, or participate in online courses.
Alternatively, you could hold in-person workshops or have employees work on individual projects. Employees can also use this day to network with other professionals and learn more about their field.
Attending conferences or meeting with experts in various fields can be a great way to learn new things and expand one’s knowledge base.
The best part is that by instituting a learning day, you are encouraging employees to learn new things and be more creative and proactive. And who knows? They may even stumble upon an idea that could help your company grow and succeed.
4. Give your staff the option of standing desks
Another example of innovative idea is to offer a standing desk for those who would like to use them. There are several reasons why you may want to do this. Some employees will prefer to stand rather than sit while working.
Offering them the option to use a standing desk gives them the freedom to make that choice independently. And, standing desks can help improve employee productivity. Other potential benefits include — improved posture, reduced back pain, and increased energy.
If you are looking for ways to increase workplace morale and promote healthy habits among your employees, consider offering them the option to use standing desks and provide them with the right tools to make a more convenient experience.
5. Create an idea board
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a good idea board can be worth its weight in gold. A happy team picture could represent one value, such as happiness.
A quote from a successful entrepreneur could represent another value, such as ambition. An idea for a new product could represent the company’s goal of innovation.
The culture of a company is a manifestation of its values. Values are important because they guide our decisions and actions and help us stay on track when facing work challenges.
So, have a space in the corridor or staff canteen to hang up images, quotes, and ideas representing your team’s values and goals. The key is that space should be easily accessible and visible to everyone who works at the company.
It is a great way to get your team members excited about work and to keep the company vision on top of their minds. It also creates a positive and inspiring work environment.
When everyone in the workplace knows the company’s values and goals, it is easier to achieve success.
6. Encourage creative break time
Allow employees time to take a break to do something creative and non-work related. People who are constantly bogged down with work often feel stressed and overwhelmed. This leads to a lack of creativity and a decrease in productivity.
However, suppose employees are given time each day to take a break and do something non-work related. In that case, they will likely feel more relaxed and refreshed, leading to increased creativity and productivity.
Taking a break from work allows the mind to wander and develop new ideas. We all need time away from work to refresh our minds and come back with new ideas. So, employees need to break off work to relax and de-stress.
Breaks can be short to be effective; even 20 – 30 minutes of creative free time every day can make a difference.
Read more: 11 Good Examples of Showing Initiative at Work
7. Create an innovation think tank
Here are a few key reasons why creating a think tank can benefit your team. First, an innovation think tank can be a place to incubate and test ideas and ensure that only the best ones make it to your final plan.
And it can act as a source of inspiration for your team, motivating them to come up with new and exciting ideas. It would help to consider a few things when creating an innovation think tank.
First, you need to create a space that is specifically designed for brainstorming and creativity. This means removing all distractions and providing an environment conducive to deep and uninterrupted thinking.
Second, having a diverse team of employees who can bring different perspectives is crucial. The more varied the backgrounds and experiences of your team members, the more creative ideas you will generate.
Creating a think tank is a great way to show your employees that you value creativity and innovation and are committed to helping your business stay competitive in today’s market.
8. Hold weekly hackathons
There are a few reasons why holding a weekly hackathon can be a great way to come up with solutions to challenges at work.
First, having a short time frame (usually 24 hours) forces people to focus and develop ideas quickly. This can be beneficial because it allows people to test new ideas and see if they are feasible in a shorter amount of time.
Second, hackathons are usually team-based events. It means you can get different people in one room who might have yet to work together before and see what kind of solutions they come up with.
Different perspectives on a problem are often essential in finding the best solution possible. The best way to hold a hackathon is to identify a problem you want people to solve and then give participants a specific challenge related to that problem.
You can also provide ideas for potential solutions, but letting the participants develop their ideas is essential. Whatever the purpose, hackathons are a great way to get people thinking and coming up with innovative solutions.
Read more: 18 Examples of Exceeding Expectations
9. Create a social media wall
Create a social media wall for your employees by setting up a private Twitter, WhatsApp, or Facebook account and inviting them to post updates on whatever they are working on.
A social media wall can be an excellent way for employees to keep colleagues and managers learning more about their work experiences and customer interactions.
It can also be a great way to get customer feedback and insights directly from employees. Plus, it can create a sense of community among employees or improve customer service and work experience.
In addition, a social media wall can be used as a training tool to help new employees get up to speed on company culture and protocols.
Choose the right platform. There are several different social media platforms that you could use for your social media wall.
10. Give employees a set of goals to achieve each quarter
Give your employees a set of goals to achieve each quarter. There are a few benefits of setting and measuring quarterly goals for employees.
First, it provides clarity and direction for employees, as they know what is expected of them in the short term.
Quarterly goals can also measure employee productivity and track progress toward long-term objectives.
You can offer tangible rewards, such as bonuses or raises upon completion, and intangible rewards, such as positive reinforcement or public recognition for achieving the goals.
Some ideas for goal-setting include specifying quantifiable goals (such as increasing sales by 10% or decreasing customer complaints by 15%), setting deadlines for completion, and breaking down larger goals into more manageable steps.
It is also essential to be realistic in setting goals — if they are too challenging or unrealistic, employees may become discouraged rather than motivated.
Being innovative at work does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. Sometimes, minor changes can make the most significant difference in fostering a more creative and inspiring workplace culture.
Creative and innovative ideas can come from anyone within the company. It does not matter what your position is or how much experience you have. All that matters is that you are open to new ideas and willing to try something different.