Businesses need to adapt to find success in the current economy. Innovation is no longer optional, so it’s vital to enable a free-thinking workforce. This means giving employees the freedom to develop new ideas and innovate in the workplace. It also means allowing them to make mistakes without fear of punishment.
This is so important because businesses need to be constantly adapting and evolving to stay ahead of the competition. Your goals are more likely to achieve fruition if employees have the freedom to experiment and try new things. Millions of young people are quitting jobs without any intention of rejoining the traditional workforce.
As long as these boundaries are clear, businesses can reap the benefits of an innovative work environment. Keep reading to find out how you can take control of your company by enabling a free-thinking workforce.
What Is a Free-Thinking Workforce?
A free-thinking workforce is not restricted by rules and regulations, within reason, of course. This type of workforce has the freedom to develop new ideas, experiment, and take risks.
Free-thinking employees are more likely to come up with new and innovative solutions to problems. They are also more likely to take risks that could lead to new opportunities for the company.
Why Is It Important for Businesses?
For businesses to stay ahead of the competition, they need to be constantly adapting and evolving. This type of company elevation is accomplished by giving employees the freedom to experiment and try new things.
Think about being strangled. You can't think. You have no idea what to do. All you know is you need to get out of your current situation.
This is how employees feel when their creativity is stifled. They're choking. They may feel like their future is dying. They're simply "going through the motions," or worse, thinking it's time to move on to greener pastures.
How Can Employees Be Enabled to Think Freely?
There are a few ways businesses can enable their employees to think freely. One way is to have an "if it helps the business, it's already approved" expense policy. This will allow employees to purchase tools or services that they think will help the business without going through a lengthy approval process.
Another way to enable a free-thinking workforce is to encourage mistakes. While this strategy may seem counterintuitive, the thought process should be that those mistakes are good. If employees are not making any mistakes, it means that they are probably not taking any risks.
By giving employees the flexibility to come up with new ideas, and take risks, businesses can stay ahead of the competition, take risks, and receive the rewards of an innovative workforce.
Let’s use an example. You’re an internet entrepreneur who has built an impressive portfolio of affiliate marketing websites.
Deciding to step back and focus on the business side of things, you hire a content manager, social media manager, and a small team of freelance writers to help get the day-to-day work finished without direct interference from you.
The best way to help them help themselves is to provide excellent training and then allow them to work freely and independently as much as possible.
Your new website is all about email marketing. Hand your content manager a list of keywords on how to manage email accounts and let them run with it. Let them fail and come to you with questions as they need answers. Allow them to rectify mistakes on their own.
7 Benefits for Employees and Employers
It's not just your company that will benefit from having employees encouraged to think for themselves. Your employees will benefit as well. Here are seven ways everyone benefits.
1. Higher Quality of Work
Giving employees the freedom to experiment is more likely to produce higher-quality work. They will be more engaged in their work and invested in the outcome.
If the people who work for you feel like they're part of a family or something bigger than themselves, they care about their job. In fact, it isn’t just a job to them anymore. It becomes a fulfilling career.
This is infinitely better than employees feeling like they're just another drone working for a faceless CEO in a company that doesn't care about them or their well-being.
2. Better Time Management
Giving your workforce the opportunity to come up with new ideas can make them less likely to need as much direct supervision. This practice can lead to better time management for both employees and employers.
The dreaded micromanager isn't fun for anyone. When you give a workforce more freedom to be innovative, your team is excited to start the day, work hard, see results, and manage their time wisely, entirely on their own.
3. Better Work-Life Balance
Employees who can work on their own terms are more likely to have a better work-life balance. It’s optimal for employees to have less stress and be more productive while on the clock. A proper balance between career and home life is the easiest way to achieve this feat.
A workforce encouraged to think for themselves is also more likely to have a better work-life balance. Tired and outdated rules and regulations won’t bog down your team.
They can take the time they need to complete their work without worrying about getting in trouble.
4. Improved Morale
When employees feel like they can contribute to the company in a meaningful way, it improves morale.
High morale, in turn, leads to increased productivity and a decrease in absenteeism. There isn’t a single person in the world that can’t say they’ve never called in sick, and the only thing wrong with them was that they didn’t feel like dealing with their job.
5. Encourages Employee Engagement
A workforce that's encouraged to think for themselves and take risks is more likely to communicate well with other team members and management. This creates a flow of idea-sharing that can lead to new and innovative solutions.
A team is only as good as its weakest link. When all of your links are weak, you've got a problem. Productivity decreases. People become unhappy. They start to quit and leave bad reviews of your company on websites like Glassdoor, creating an unwanted and preventable downward spiral.
6. It Can Improve Retention
When employees feel like they are able to contribute to the company in a meaningful way, they are more likely to stay with the company. This leads to improved retention rates and decreased turnover.
We now find ourselves in an age where young professionals won't hesitate to leave a company if they feel like another business can better utilize them or if their talents are completely wasted with their current employer.
Companies need to enable a free-thinking workforce to keep the best and brightest employees, rewarded with the freedom to develop new ideas, experiment, and take risks.
7. Build Trust Between Management and Your Workforce
When your employees feel like their voices are heard and their ideas are valued, it builds trust between management and your workforce.
This trust leads to increased morale, productivity, and engagement.
It's important to remember that a free-thinking workforce doesn't mean that there are no rules, just that the rules shouldn’t restrict creativity and innovation.
How Can Businesses Create an Environment that Encourages Innovation and Creativity?
Businesses can do a few things to create an environment that encourages innovation and creativity. These tips aren’t concrete. Instead, look at them as a starting point and build them out from the list below.
Encourage mistakes - As mentioned earlier, mistakes are good. They show that employees are taking risks. By encouraging mistakes, businesses can stay ahead of the competition and reap the benefits of an innovative workforce.
Encourage open communication - Employees should feel like they can openly communicate with each other and management. This communication will lead to new and innovative solutions.
Encourage employees to take risks - Employees should feel like they can experiment and take risks without fear of reprisal. This will lead to a more creative and innovative workforce.
Make meetings a safe space - If your workforce is meeting to brainstorm solutions to company problems, there shouldn't be any stupid ideas. All thoughts and dialogue should be welcome. Even if the idea isn't great, it could springboard the brainstorming process in other team members, creating a ripple effect.
A free-thinking workforce is essential for any business that wants to stay ahead of the competition.
By giving employees the freedom to come up with new ideas, experiment, and take risks, businesses can reap the benefits of an innovative workforce.
When employees feel like their voices are heard and their ideas are valued, it builds trust between management and their workforce. This trust leads to increased morale, productivity, and engagement.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out today's post. If you enjoyed it, you might like this one on employee onboarding ROI.