Building a culture of innovation at work

Apr 27, 2024 - Reading time: 8 min
Building a culture of innovation at work

Innovation is critical for any company that wants to remain profitable and gain & retain competitive advantage.

Implementing an innovation culture inside the workplace allows companies to continually come up with new ideas and adapt to fast-changing environments.

However, building an innovative culture can be challenging. Some employees might be reluctant to change.

In this article, we're going to discuss how to put in place a strong innovation culture at work and how to make employees adhere to it.


What is innovation and why is it crucial for companies?

What is a culture of innovation and how to implement it in the workplace?

What can be the challenges companies face when implementing a culture of innovation?

What is innovation and why is it crucial for companies to innovate?

Innovation is the process by which a company introduces new ideas, new processes, new ways of working, new products or services.

Being innovative is key for any company nowadays. Here's why it matters and the reasons why companies should make innovation efforts a priority.

Competitive advantage

Implementing an innovation strategy is key for companies to thrive in a dynamic and competitive business environment.

A study made by FasterCapital on the impact innovation has on market competition uses the example of Apple to illustrate this point:

Apple indeed has a strong ability to launch disruptive products (iPhone, iPad), which has enabled the company to stay ahead of its competitors for several years.

Revenue growth

Innovation can lead to revenue growth by creating new products or services that meet customers' needs, opening up new market opportunities, and allowing businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors, ultimately driving increased sales and market shares.

Adaptability to change

Markets, as well as consumer habits and preferences, are constantly evolving, especially in today’s digital era and amidst the rise of AI.

Companies that fail to innovate face the risk to become obsolete as their products or services become outdated, and no longer attractive to potentiel customers.

Cost efficiency

By implementing innovative ways of working, new processes internally, companies can also reduce their costs.

Let's take the example of customer service, which is traditionally handled by humans. This requires companies to have a team of employees that sometimes needs to be available 24/7 to address customers' needs.

Automation has been a powerful innovation in the customer service industry: chatbots based on AI that can interact with customers in real-time and answer simple queries has enabled CS representatives to focus on more complex and high-value-added tasks.

Customer satisfaction

A study from 2017 and led by Lab42 has revealed how important innovation is to clients, and showed how it even impacts their shopping behaviors.

In the automobiles industry for example, 75% of respondents would be willing to pay more for an innovative product.

Hiring and retaining top talents

By demonstrating their capacity to experiment, innovative companies can position themselves as desirable employers that offer exciting opportunities for growth, development, creativity and impact, making them more attractive to top talent in the job market.

The example of no-code

No-code represents a real innovation for companies and is a good example of how innovation can help companies being more efficient.

They enable individuals with no coding skills to create software applications, thanks to drag and drop templates and pre-built templates that empower employees to build their own apps.

No-code has allowed to democratize the app development process; but it also helps reduce reliance on developers and tech experts, it accelerates time-to-market.

Besides, it brings new growth opportunities for businesses, as users now have the capacity to implement their ideas directly.

No-code is a powerful tool that empowers companies to experiment new solutions and iterate quickly, thus adapting to fast-changing business needs.

What is a culture of innovation and how to implement it in the workplace?

What is a culture of innovation?

A culture of innovation refers to a work environment where employees are empowered to suggest creative and innovative ideas.

Anyone in the company, regardless of hierachy, can suggest new innovative solutions and experimentation, and feel that their ideas are considered. Inclusive workplaces are key to successful innovation strategies.

Ways to build a culture of innovation in the workplace

There are several best practices that can help implementing a corporate culture based on innovation.

Setting a clear innovation strategy with a system of measurement

As for any other project, it's important to set a clear innovation strategy and to communicate it to anyone in the company.

It's also important to set KPIs and analyze regularly if the company is on the right path to attain the set objectives.

Creating a safe space

To stimulate innovation inside a company, it is vital for managers to create a safe space where team members feel confident enough to express their views and fresh ideas. They must feel that all voices are valued, no matter where they come from.

Companies must put in place an open communication inside the company, where executives are accessible and open to new ideas.

Knowledge sharing can take different forms: dedicated meetings, online platforms, etc.

Cultivating diversity and encouraging cross-functional collaboration

Bringing together individuals from diverse teams to collaborate on projects can invigorate the workplace with diverse perspectives and ideas. This cross-functional approach encourages knowledge sharing and fosters a culture of innovation where different viewpoints can be confronted.

Upskilling employees

When it comes to fostering a culture of innovation in the company, upskilling employees is crucial.

A study by Amabile (1997) has shown that once you provide employees with the necessary innovative resources, it can increase creativity and improve job satisfaction and performance. If a company wants to empower its team members, It's important to provide them with qualitative training programs, encourage continuous learning, but also to give them the time necessary to follow them.

Encouraging risk-taking initiatives and rewarding employees

Recognizing the values of your employees' ideas is usually a good motivation for them to be more innovative and suggest new experimentations.

It's vital for managers to implement reward systems that celebrate innovation, even the failed attempts.  Failure is also seen as a step towards success.

However, as mentioned by Gary P Pisano (2019), despite their acceptance of failure, "innovative organizations are intolerant of incompetence. They set exceptionally high performance standards for their people".

What can be the challenges companies face when implementing a culture of innovation ?

The challenges associated with implementing a culture of innovation

Implementing innovative cultures might be challenging in some companies: it can indeed represent a huge cultural change, face some resistance among employees, and take time to implement.

Let's get through some of the challenges a company can face:

Behavioral resistance

One of the major challenges when implementing an innovation culture is behavioral resistance from employees.

Shifting to a company culture that encourages an innovation mindset indeed requires a significant behavior change.

Lack of investment

Putting in place an innovation culture often comes with a cost; it requires resources and time.

As seen earlier, one way to foster a culture of innovation is employees' upskilling , which requires investment and dedication.

Lack of support from top management

Support from leadership is essential when trying to implement an innovation culture.

Employees who don't feel backed by their managers (lack of support, experimentation not encouraged), might not be willing to embrace the corporate culture based on innovation.

Key takeaways

- Innovation is key for companies as it brings several benefits: competitive advantage, adaptability, revenue growth, etc.

- Creating a culture of innovation in the workplace is crucial to succeed as it provides a work environment that encourages initiatives.

- There are different ways for companies to build a culture of innovation, but there are also many challenges associated with it.


FasterCapital, The Impact of Innovation on Market Competition (2024)

Lab42, The Innovation Premium

Amabile, T. M., & Conti, R., Environmental determinants of work motivation, creativity, and innovation: The case of R&D downsizing (1997)

Gary P. Pisano, The hard truth about innovative cultures (2019)

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