Why focusing on innovation benefits the whole team

Miro’s recent global innovation survey of over 1,700 leaders and 8,000 information workers revealed that innovation is necessary not only for a company’s competitive success, but also for its very survival.  

Eighty percent of the leaders surveyed said that innovation — defined as the development and launch of new products and/or services — is important for winning against the competition, and 82% agree that an organization that cannot innovate will fail within five years. 

As you begin to examine your own organization’s innovation practices, remember that building better products and driving revenue aren’t the only benefits of innovation. In our survey, we found a few other less-visible but equally as impactful benefits, namely that a focus on innovation contributes directly to employee satisfaction. And the good news: satisfied workers create more innovative companies. Below, we’ll dive deeper into what this looks like in practice. 

Innovation helps businesses attract and retain talent

Attracting top talent is essential to an innovative workplace. But a company’s success depends not only on bringing in talent but also holding on to employees who will work together to create cutting-edge new products. Our survey found that 82% of global decision makers agree that innovation is central to attracting and retaining top talent. Unfortunately, research shows that a majority of employees feel disengaged with their jobs, making it easy to jump ship to other, shinier opportunities. So how do you reduce churn? 

In our survey, 70% of information workers said that being innovative is the key. By focusing on innovation, employees feel like their contributions are valued and that they have a stake in the future of the business. Innovation also encourages retention by giving employees the sense that they’re part of an organization with a future. (In fact, 52% of information workers felt that their jobs would be at risk in a company that did not prioritize innovation.) 

In this symbiotic relationship, innovation brings in top workers and contributes to their own (perceived and actual) job security at the same time. 

It also drives a better workplace culture

While attracting and retaining talent is crucial, a dynamic workplace culture that encourages innovation is also critical to employee satisfaction. In our survey, 78% of information workers agreed that innovation nurtures a positive company culture and boosts employee engagement, while 77% felt that offering an innovative product or service kept them more invested in and excited about the company’s future. Employee happiness, it turns out, goes hand-in-hand with a focus on innovation

But having an innovative product alone is not enough to keep employees happy. Employers should also work to create a culture of innovation that fosters productivity and creativity: a workplace culture where employees feel empowered to take risks and find meaning in their work.

In particular, an innovative business helps workers by giving them the psychological safety to be creative without fear of failure. Sixty-two percent of leaders in our survey cited fear as a major obstacle to innovation at their companies, so supporting workers to try new things can go a long way in fostering a more positive workplace culture.  

Innovation begets collaboration and vice versa 

To innovate at scale, there needs to be collaboration not just among teams or individuals, but throughout the entire organization. The lone inventor is a myth: Individuals working alone experience fewer breakthroughs and poorer outcomes than those who work collaboratively. Working together cross-functionally, on the other hand, brings together diverse perspectives, improving an organization’s performance and helping companies adapt to unexpected challenges.

What’s more: Working collaboratively can help employees who are feeling stuck overcome their mental blocks. Communicating obstacles with others, sharing access to information, and getting additional feedback inevitably stimulates creativity and ensures the checks-and-balances to produce a better end product.  

By removing silos and encouraging communication at all levels, employers can create better conditions for innovation. They should keep in mind, though, that cross-functional collaboration can also be a major obstacle to innovation if not done effectively (according to 34% of leaders and 30% of information workers in our survey). So pay attention to anything that might be blocking or getting in the way of effective communication.

Innovation isn’t just about building cutting-edge products and delighting customers, but about creating workplaces where global talent comes to stay. Studies have found that employee satisfaction boosts a company’s own ability to be innovative and that innovation itself can influence worker productivity and success. With that in mind, businesses should therefore consider how company practices can promote innovation within the organization, so that everyone (and not just the bottom line) can benefit. 

Want to learn more about the state of innovation today?

Check out our full report.

Risk vs. Reward: Innovation in modern enterprises