10 ways to develop HR innovation and why it's important

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The human resources (HR) team has a significant impact on the culture and internal workings of an organisation. The processes the HR department implements can affect the entire employee experience. With the right tools, technology and knowledge, the HR team can create an atmosphere that boosts productivity and reduces staff turnover. In this article, we explain what HR innovation is and why it's important with 10 tips for how to improve innovation, both in the workplace and in the HR department itself.

What is HR innovation?

HR innovation is the implementation of fresh ideas, techniques and technologies that can make a workplace better for its employees. Innovation in HR is the process of staying updated on the latest workplace trends. A strong HR team investigates the current needs of an organisation, anticipates the future needs of its business and puts the relevant practices in place to encourage employee productivity.

Tips for improving HR innovation

There are many ways that an HR team can improve organisational innovation. Here are 10 ideas for innovation in a workplace environment:

1. Develop competent leadership

It's important for a business only to promote employees into leadership positions if they're competent to fill the role. HR managers may base employees' competencies on the candidate's relevant skills, appropriate qualifications or practical experience in performing in the role. Ensuring quality leadership is about choosing a leader with credentials and experience in addition to a charismatic personality. A strong leader can listen, ask the right questions and apply common sense where necessary.

2. Create mentoring programmes

HR can maximise the skill sets within the company to teach and train new staff members. Pairing new employees with a mentor can offer them the chance to learn important skills from a colleague with years of practical experience in the job. The HR team can do this by encouraging managers to become highly involved in the development and training of their team members. Company-sponsored personal development courses are another way to upskill staff.

Related: What degree does an HR career require? (And subject options)

3. Re-imagine the modern workspace

Some companies are relaxing their rules about when and where their employees work, so their employees can choose where and when they're most productive. Some companies have instated core hours when they expect their employees to work and allow several hours outside these core hours for flexible working.

Having a more flexible work policy can help people with childcare costs, allowing employees to work around school hours or improve their work-life balance by attending an exercise class while fitting their working hours in earlier or later in the day. Besides flexible or remote working, there are other ways to change the traditional work environment, such as unassigned seating or hot-desking, removing private offices and encouraging more open-plan and collaborative workspaces.

4. Measure the right things

Effective businesses are strong at measuring the right things. Sometimes, measuring output can be more effective than measuring input because the latter tends to be harder to manage unless it's in a controlled environment. Instead, it's important for HR to focus on being data-driven. Investing in the right technology to allow them to do this is key.

Related: What is the HR and manager relationship? Plus salaries

5. Invest in the correct technology

An innovative HR department chooses technology that can improve efficiency and help employees do their jobs more effectively. Choose technology that the IT team can train to measure outcomes instead of performance. If you're implementing any new technology at work, be transparent, responsible with employee data and get consent from your team first.

6. Be open to new ideas

Being open to new ideas is key to organisational innovation. Instead of accepting past ways of doing things traditionally, HR can encourage managers to new ways of working. This can help the organisation become more adaptive to the modern world. There are many ways for managers to innovate fresh ideas within their teams, whether through meetings or company-wide surveys, to gather data and give everyone a voice.

7. Be selective with employees

When establishing the company culture, it's just as important to hire employees who are a good fit for the company as it is to ensure the company is a good fit for the employee. The HR team can gather data to understand how the teams work and how best to maximise efficiency and productivity. Recruiters can analyse this data to understand whether new candidates' goals align with the business goals to drive success. Hiring the right people from the start saves time and money and ensures they're more likely to stay at the company for longer.

8. Promote leadership from within

Senior managers can invest time into their team members to find the best fit for leadership positions within their existing workforce. This provides leadership training for employees and opportunities for growth in all areas of the organisation. Investment in the workforce encourages employees to stay with the organisation for longer and incentivises them to work harder. It also means that the organisation can benefit from their nurtured and enhanced skills. This way, HR can innovate to leverage internal assets before hiring external candidates.

Related: Roles of HR in change management: plus relevant skills

9. Understand employees on a human level

Innovative HR managers can collaborate with employees to understand what the workforce requires to operate in a facilitative work environment. Asking what tools employees require, giving them clear goals and providing a conducive working environment can help them achieve their objectives. This strategy enables the HR team to discover what employees want to accomplish in their careers and offer them the opportunities they're looking for within the organisation.

10. Help employees give back

One of the most innovative ways an organisation can encourage staff loyalty is by offering the opportunity to give back. Focusing away from the business needs can motivate employees to feel more content and fulfilled, which means they may be less likely to leave. Examples of HR projects could include a team charity or volunteer day where the organisation's teams get together to help those in need or a charity scheme where the business matches employees' donations.

Related: What are innovation strategies? (Plus types and examples)

Ways HR can measure innovation

While most people understand what the term innovation means, it can be much more challenging to measure. Here are some ways HR can track innovation and innovate at the same time:

1. Output

The most obvious metric for tracking HR innovations is output. This could be through tracking revenue and profit from new products, processes or ideas. It could be through efficiency, such as how many hours of work a new technology or idea saves the business. It could also be through intangible outputs, such as brand awareness.

2. Input

it's important to measure input in tracking output. HR managers can do this by recording the number of people the business has trained in innovation skills or the kinds of training that are most effective. Alternatively, they could track the time people have dedicated to working on innovation projects within the HR department.

3. Process

The process measurement is a higher-level view than the input. It tracks the journey from when senior management identifies an area where it could innovate to the time it takes to implement the innovation. This is not tracking the time spent by the individual employee as much as the project's organisational process.

4. Culture

Culture is more challenging to track within an organisation. The HR team can track organisational culture by sending out surveys for the employees to fill out. They can also set up monthly, quarterly or annual performance reviews where managers can run through performance, satisfaction and expectations together and identify any areas for improvement. The most productive work culture is one where employees feel as though they have a sense of ownership, are safe to take risks for reward and where they feel heard and valued.

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