Employees Want More Innovation but Managers Often Hinder Progress

Companies may be their own worst enemy when it comes to innovation, research suggests. In a new survey by global staffing firm Robert Half, CFOs cited too much bureaucracy (30 percent) and being bogged down by daily tasks and putting out fires (27 percent) as the biggest barriers to innovation. These obstacles may also have the potential to hinder hiring efforts. In a separate survey, 87 percent of workers said a company's reputation for being innovative is an important consideration when evaluating potential employers.

 

"Businesses strive to be innovative but all too often get in their own way due to self-imposed barriers," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. "Organizations need to find a way to let ideas rise to the top quickly and create clear paths to implement them."

Added McDonald, "When hiring, companies should position themselves as innovators and reassure applicants that their ideas will be heard and valued. Top candidates want to be associated with forward-thinking, nimble organizations."

Robert Half offers the following do's and don'ts for managers when it comes to fostering innovation:

Do

Don't

Step away from your usual assignments and set aside time to brainstorm with your team. Host internal events where employees can present creative business solutions to company leadership.  

Put creative thinking sessions on the back burner due to a lack of time or the daily grind.   

Remove unnecessary red tape. For example, simplify project requests and approval processes.

Restrict idea sharing for meetings. Be accessible and create a collaborative environment where employees can freely offer suggestions.

Hire additional staff if heavy workloads are consistently getting in the way of innovation.

Stretch your team so thin their only focus – and measure of accomplishment – comes from crossing items off their to-do lists.  

Be patient; new ideas take time to flourish. Make innovation an ongoing focus, and provide your employees the support they need to realize their vision.

Place unrealistic expectations on staff. It can take weeks or months to see results, particularly if you don't give them the necessary resources or help with prioritizing tasks.

 

The surveys were developed by Robert Half and conducted by independent research firms. The CFO survey is based on telephone interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas. The survey of workers includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.


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