Innovation isn’t just a pathway to greater success for a business but is crucial for business survival. Consider sit-down restaurants during the pandemic. Once absolutely reliant on foot traffic, they needed to find innovative ways to get their food into customers’ hands. So, how does one foster innovation in a team?

Give Them a Break

Despite copious evidence that it makes people less productive, many managers implicitly or explicitly encourage working long hours. Unfortunately, this kind of schedule saps people of the mental energy necessary for innovation. Well-rested minds routinely find creative solutions.

Facilitate Contributions

Most leaders think they’re open to input from their subordinates, yet behave in ways that make it clear they aren’t. Their secretaries or personal assistants deflect any attempt to get facetime. They hole up in closed-door meetings eight hours a day. A leader must build time into their schedule that is open for less structured interactions.

Knock Down Roadblocks

Any organization needs some level of hierarchy to function properly. Yet, these levels of hierarchy can become roadblocks to contribution. If employees must submit ideas to supervisors, who submit to middle management, who submit to upper management, there is a good chance the idea never reaches anyone who can implement change. Worse, people may not contribute out of fear that someone above them will take credit for the idea. Looks for ways to streamline the process and ensure the person who came up with the idea gets the credit.

Promote Engagement

How good is the employee engagement at the business? Odds are good it falls somewhere around the norm, which means around 61 percent of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged from the company. Employees who don’t care about what their company does or stands for will put zero effort into finding or sharing innovations. While boosting engagement is complex, doubling down on core values and mission often yield good results. Many employees lack engagement because they didn’t understand those core values or the mission in the first place.

Fostering innovation on a team takes some effort, but it is effort well spent. Encouraging work-life balance, limiting roadblocks, and reinforcing core values all promote innovation. After all, well-rested employees who buy in to the core values and know they can talk with their boss are way more likely to find and share new ideas.