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ATD Blog

Talent Management Practices to Foster Innovation

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
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An organization’s culture and leadership certainly play an important role in innovation success—ATD’s research report Advancing Innovation: High-Performance Strategies for Talent Development found that high-performing organizations are significantly more likely to have formal, defined strategies and processes to drive innovation. But it is also important to ensure that employees themselves feel encouraged and supported to develop new ideas—which is why talent management is a key player in the innovation process.

According to the report, the top talent management practice for supporting innovation is emphasizing diversity in hiring. More than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) indicated that their organization does this to a high or very high extent. Research has shown that a diverse workforce has many benefits, from better decision-making to improved organizational financial performance. Given this, it is not surprising that organizations would hire diverse candidates to foster innovation as well. As Advancing Innovation explains, emphasizing diversity in hiring allows organizations to acquire talent with new ideas and perspectives.

Seventeen percent of organizations drive innovation by creating online communities focused on innovation. This collaborative approach gives employees and customers a space to share new ideas. More and more organizations have been finding success with this practice, from USAA to Dell.

Another 17 percent of respondents indicated that their organization uses reward and recognition programs to reinforce employee innovation. One of ATD’s member-only 10-Minute Case Studies examines how MTR Corporation Limited, a company that constructs and operates mass transit railway systems, created such a program wherein employees worked in teams to brainstorm and develop innovative projects. The organization adopts successful projects into practice, helping them improve operations and reduce costs. To recognize employees for their achievements, MTR holds an awards and recognition event each year. (ATD members can learn more about the program here.)

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Screening potential new hires for innovation skills is another top choice for talent management, with 14 percent of respondents’ organizations using this practice to a high extent. According to the report, the top skills for innovation are effective collaboration, creativity, and analytical skills.

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Fourteen percent of organizations support innovation by encouraging employees to take accrued time off to foster relaxation and creativity. The report found that market-leading organizations were seven times more likely to urge employees to take accrued time off.

The report, sponsored by GP Strategies, includes findings, recommendations, and success stories about innovation. To learn more, purchase the report here.

About the Author

Shauna Robinson is a former ATD research analyst. Her responsibilities included preparing surveys, analyzing data, and writing research reports.

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