Employees Demand Innovation From U.S. Businesses

Jul 17, 2013

Innovation is a conversation that has been dominating the industry for some time now. For most it is considered a tool that will provide growth for the global economy, but the HR field looks at innovation as more than providing a guarantee growth factor, and rather sees it as a method that will change their entire profession.

Both technological and societal changes have been embraced by HR professionals and with good reason — we cannot underestimate the importance of innovation in recruiting, engaging, and developing talent, as attracting and retaining the best people depend on it. 

And it’s not just HR that’s focusing on its importance. U.S. employees are demanding to see innovation within the workplace, and their experience can make or break their decision to remain loyal to a company.

As part of our recent global Innovation Imperative research, more than 4,000 employees and 800 recruitment and talent professionals around the world were surveyed to examine innovation at key stages of the employee life cycle and discover what innovation means to talent managers and employees. The results from North America were very insightful, if not always surprising. It is no shock that U.S. employees are well aware of the concept of innovation in HR — 78 percent claimed their level of motivation at work is influenced by it. They place great emphasis on direct contact and the use of professional networking tools at the recruitment stage, flexible working practices in the engagement stage, and performance-related bonuses at the development stage. But what was extremely revealing was that only 28 percent of employees think their current workplace is innovative on the way it recruits and manages talent, and of those, 37 percent are positive about the state of HR innovation in their current company.

There is a distinctive gap between the appreciation of how important innovation is to success, against the ability of organizations to actually implement it. Failure to so do means over a third of U.S. employees would be likely to look for another job if promises of innovation in the way they are engaged and developed (42 percent and 35 percent respectively) failed to materialize — with half of those waiting just six months at both stages. With the war for talent set to increase even further and employees are expecting more creativity and more innovation from their existing or future employees, organizations are left with little choice but to stand up and address the demands head on.

At first glance, it seems a lack of financial investment is the main barrier hindering the adoption of more innovative practices and tactics amongst U.S. businesses. While 77 percent of HR and professionals in the country believing that innovation in recruitment and talent management is a key factor in reaching growth targets, they lack the funding to see this through, with only 41 percent of professional respondents suggesting they have budget to drive new methods and tactics — the lowest by far in the territories reviewed globally. However, a clear indicator of why they have limited access to funding is to do with the attitudes of more senior players in the business. Currently, only 47 percent of U.S. employers actually believe that these sorts of innovative approaches are valued by the whole organization, causing the implementation of innovative procedures drop down the list of priorities.

Ultimately, a gap needs to be bridged between the demands of HR and the employee for innovative practices, and the mindset of the more senior, decision-making figureheads, by showing that adopting innovation is to key to retaining top talent, which as a result, will help in achieving growth targets.

The importance of HR innovation to employees can no longer be underestimated. In a market as competitive as the U.S., securing and keeping the very best talent is crucial. Candidates and professionals overwhelmingly agree that more needs to be done to incorporate innovation not only to retain the best talent but to keep motivation and productivity levels high. Innovation isn’t a tick box exercise, or a whim of a tech-savvy HR manager, but a technique to help gain competitive advantage through talent.

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