Shifting the Scales to Enable Innovation

 -  10/25/13

Companies that take advantage of technology and allow employees to have a voice in their development plans will achieve more engagement and a reputation for innovation.

“Be innovative” is a catch phrase dominating conversations throughout the HR industry as well as a concern and expectation for board members and candidates. But what does innovation in HR really mean? And what role does it play for those seeking to engage and develop their talent?

Perhaps the people best suited to answer these questions are employees and candidates themselves.

According to a recent study by consultancy Futurestep, globally 78 percent of candidates believe innovation in talent management is key to successful execution of a company’s business strategy. Furthermore, 72 percent of candidates now expect their employers to be innovative in the way they develop and engage staff. Promises of innovation are also the most important for candidates in the areas of engagement and development.

Yet, in the United States only 30 percent of employees think their workplace is innovative. This is alarming given that staff engagement remains a serious problem in most organizations. Research indicates 55 percent of employees would leave their company for another if promises of innovation fail to materialize. Why then would organizations ignore the need to infuse innovation into their talent practices? And how can they create the “wow factor” for critical talent segments within their organization?

We now live in an era of self-service, where we manage most aspects of our lives on the Internet. We’ll order groceries online, use price comparison websites to identify the best deals on products or manage our finances via online banking. It’s not surprising employees want similar controls in the workplace.

Unfortunately, employee development strategies in many organizations failed to keep up with the realities of a multigenerational workforce, and as a result many employees are finding it hard to adhere to career and job progression plans managed centrally and dictated by someone else. It remains true that the majority of employees in the U.S. lack a clear development plan, and it’s one of the key reasons why development and engagement have become so difficult in recent years as both employees and employers fight for exclusivity over career development. As a result, neither party is pleased with the outcome. Employers feel let down on often unrealistic expectations and employees are left feeling frustrated, unappreciated and ready to leave the company when an opportunity arises.

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