REPORT: Developing a Culture of Innovation



“In a truly innovative culture, people are solving problems that haven’t been identified, and if their ideas are captured in such a way that they are reviewed often, by many, then when the problem presents itself, you have a hammer for that nail!”

Rhonda Hall makes a strong statement about developing an innovative culture. She’s the Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at University Federal Credit Union. And she’s absolutely right, but it begs the question: how do you get to that point?

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The latest report from the HR Exchange Network has the answers. Developing a Culture of Innovation sets the tone for HR professionals on why they should invest in this type of change and, for those that have, their journey to a new innovative workplace culture for their multi-generational workforce. The piece is full of insights from leaders in the HR Community like Hall and Rebecca Ahmed, the Director of HR Systems and Operations at Pinnacle Entertainment.

Speaking about that multi-generational workforce, Ahmed said, “I think every generation that's going to be up and coming is always going to be considered more innovative than the last one because it's newer technology; it's just changed.”

The report also puts emphasis on strategies that make employees live, breathe, and sleep the new culture, including suggestions on making your office atmosphere a place that breeds new ideas.

“If you do block people off, essentially that's a metaphor for blocking off their ideas,” Ahmed said.

And the proof is in the pudding.

“When you think of Facebook. When you think of Google. When you think of these… really innovative companies, most of them have open workspaces,” Ahmed said. She said these physical environments leads to a “contagious, exciting type of atmosphere.”

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Augie Schulke, the Chief Human Resources Officer of Veolia North America, agrees.

“Our CEO has structured our physical work place where it enables collaboration, teamwork, alignment… simultaneous conversations that just happen,” Schulke said. “We have set ourselves up in order to take advantage of having better meetings, better conversations.”

In the report, HR professionals will also learn how to implement strategies focused on engagement, rewards, technology, and diversity. Frans Johansson is an innovation thought leader and author who writes extensively about diversity. He says companies need to leverage various insights and perspectives to break down barriers.

“It is how you think about teams. It is how you think about compensation. It’s salary organizations. Who reports to whom? All of these elements that sort of fit into it,” Johansson said.

Fernando Sanchez-Arias, the Chief People Officer of Global Custom Commerce for The Home Depot goes a step further.

He said individuals have to accept, not tolerate difference because tolerance “is just a very basic level. Acceptance is superior.”

“So, I accept you’re different. I accept that it bothers me the way you speak,” Sanchez-Arias explained. “But I know that nobody else is better than you at this specific task within the company. So, that’s why I value in my team.”

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It’s also about recruitment and hiring. If HR professionals and companies are, for instance, looking for an employee with a real desire to work for the company, that in itself breaks down barriers. Don’t just look for a person who wants a job. Top talent and innovators will be called to work for a company because their talents align with the company’s mission.

Hall echoes that by saying the more diversity, the better the company.

“In an innovative culture, people find value in their differences and their similarities,” Hall said. She said it will continue to be so as long as those differences and similarities are appreciated.

To learn more about Developing a Culture of Innovation, click here.