Nurturing innovation at work

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Companies that encourage their employees to participate in broad decision-making around operations or strategic direction can not only improve job satisfaction, but also increase levels of innovation. 

Over half (57%) of companies in the EU encourage their employees to participate in company endeavours outside the immediate responsibilities of their job. Companies do this in various ways, ranging from sharing information and consulting with employees – through staff meetings, staff surveys and suggestion boxes, for instance – to involving them in strategic and planning operations.

As one might expect, such practices increase job satisfaction, leading to increased staff retention, less absenteeism and better motivation – in short, improved well-being in the workplace. Eurofound research based on its European Company Survey (ECS) has found better workplace well-being in companies that promote employee participation than in companies that are less committed to this.

What is less obvious is that such employee participation might have an impact on how innovative a company is, but ECS data confirm this also to be the case. In companies where employees jointly take part in decision-making, the likelihood of innovation rises by 7%. This is a strong argument in favour of systematically involving staff in planning and decision-making, as well as a lesson for the 24% of managers who see involving employees as an obstacle to change. And knowing what other practices might make companies innovative is a good start to boosting innovation.

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