By now, we’ve all heard the saying, “There are only two types of companies: those who’ve been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they’ve been hacked.” It’s a scary thought, but I believe there are two other types of companies with an even more important distinction: those who make a mark, and those who think they make a mark. The difference between the two is an innovative culture. If you want your business to be a leader in the industry, you must provide your team the freedom to innovate.


How to Truly Create a Culture of Innovation in the Workplace

Advances in technology have made innovation in the workplace possible for most companies. Tools that automate repetitive tasks can free up valuable time for more creative pursuits or for dreaming up new ideas.

However, inspiring innovation in the workplace takes more than technology alone. As with most internal initiatives, creating a culture of innovation in the workplace starts at the top. Leadership must empower team members to think differently and flex their creative muscles. You can do this by equipping your team with tools that encourage and foster innovation as well as a structure or framework from which to innovate.

It’s also important to support employees in their interests outside of work. When your team members feel inspired to pursue their passions in and outside of the office, you will reap the rewards. Bain & Company reports that employees who feel inspired are 125% more productive than those who are merely satisfied with their work.

Provide employees the room to explore, make mistakes, and learn from missteps — all while rewarding good faith efforts, regardless of the outcome. The workplace should be a safe haven for making mistakes, as the fear of failure can cause people to censor new or risky ideas and impede critical innovation.

Our company, for example, uses a performance management tool that allows us to give public “high-fives” to team members who are moving our mission forward with innovative solutions and ideas. We encourage everyone to celebrate the innovative efforts they see around them, which goes a long way toward inspiring more innovation in the workplace.

We also start all staff meetings with a review of our mission, vision, and values, allowing team members to make strategic and innovative choices that align with these principles. Beyond that, each decision our leadership team makes goes through a full review to determine how it might impact organizational culture. Will it help foster and inspire innovation in the workplace?


Supporting a Culture of Innovation in the Workplace Through Recruitment

Culture is dynamic. As strong as it might be, each addition to the team brings new habits, beliefs, and experiences to your organization. It might be subtle at first, but chances are good that your culture will change over time — that is, of course, if you’re not careful in your recruitment and hiring efforts. You want talent that really connects with your company and its innovative culture: people who look at the role as more than a means to an end, but a way to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

Bringing in talent with a strong connection to the culture and mission of your organization simply increases the chances of a successful, long-lasting hire. They will become strong contributors and offer fresh ideas to the team. On the other hand, 74% of workers who feel disengaged from their companies actively look for new jobs or monitor openings.

Finding workers who feel inspired by your culture doesn’t always mean recruiting traditional full-time employees. Hiring contingent workers can provide the flexibility and scalability necessary to advance many strategic initiatives. Consider the possibility of hiring based on skills gaps for short-term projects — or even for a few years — to bring in much-needed knowledge without spending the time and money of hiring and onboarding a full-time employee.

This flexibility and scalability are just two advantages of contingent workers, however. Tapping into their experience and skills can actually help with internal innovation, as a fresh perspective inevitably spurs new ideas within teams. People start thinking differently and approaching projects with renewed focus. Team members get a chance to learn what works and doesn’t work from those outside the organization. It also breathes new life into teams, getting those creative juices flowing and inspiring more innovation in the workplace.

Now is the time to take a second look at your culture, your workforce, and your hiring practices. Ask yourself whether you’re giving people the freedom to innovate and what changes you can make to inspire innovation in the workplace. The effort will pay off in the long run.


Contingent work offers strategic initiatives for many companies, as well as access to more innovative business solutions. An employer of record such as IES can help onboard the contingent talent you need quickly and compliantly — both nationally and globally in more than 150 countries. To learn more, schedule a FREE 15-minute strategic consultation with an IES contingent workforce expert today!


Written By: Kara Hertzog, President

Kara Hertzog is president of Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading global employer of record in more than 150 countries that specializes in payrolling and contractor management services for today’s contingent workforce. Founded in 1974 in San Diego, IES has grown into one of the city’s largest women-owned businesses and has been named one of its “Best Places to Work” for 10 years in a row.

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