Six best innovation practices to engage Millennials and Gen Zers

All businesses are created first by ideas. Then, once you are in business, you need new thinking for design, engineering, radical improvement, manufacturing, marketing, advertising, problem-solving, customer retention, etc. Often the difference between success or failure in business is a simple idea.

On the one hand, many corporations have limited resources, funds, and time to give creative dreamers sufficient power to produce breakthrough ideas. On the other hand, other companies have many ideas, but are short on ways to assess, screen, prioritise, leverage and execute them.

Disciplined and well-managed creativity breeds successful idea generation and cross-pollination. Idea management systems and processes can help your company make innovation a discipline. They can help make the hunt for new possibilities each and every department’s business, as well as involving broader and more enthusiastic participation among managers and employees.

As we have seen, building a collaborative innovation culture comes hand in hand with conquering Millennials and Generation Z. This means you not only have to promote innovative thinking in your organisation, but also have to get a feel and touch in your corporate culture that inspire and retain these new generations.

Finally, remember as well the following six best practices:

  • Have strong leadership and role modelling
  • Promote regular learning
  • Give employees self-improvement possibilities
  • Create free time for interests and new ideas
  • Encourage and reward ideas and creativity
  • Do not forget mobile and flexible platforms to reach employees

Any organisation’s most valuable resource is its people. That being so, the capacity to obtain and inspire the best, most innovative and competent employees and to attract the leaders of tomorrow is the ultimate key for your company’s success.

FROM THE START:
Loyalty is no longer enough to both employers and the workforce

Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

Why is innovation management a powerful tool to engage Generations Y and Z

Large companies looking for creative and transforming ideas need to leverage innovation management to conquer employees, particularly Gen Zers and Millennials. Those leading must develop the mindset and organisational structures to empower these younger generations and help them reach full potential, while being part of their company’s evolution.

Being able to align an individual’s everyday work and goals clearly with the organisation’s strategy gets people to think in new ways and imagine new possibilities. It makes it easy for employees to see how their contributions matter.

An innovation management software can help you share your company’s vision and strategy, get people involved, and continuously find new answers, as change becomes constant. Additionally, by including evaluation mechanisms, these sophisticated platforms give the community the chance and means to assess, as a whole, the ideas presented – thus harnessing and activating your company’s collective intelligence.

Idea management software (such as Exago Smart) also promotes a collaborative culture, for individuals and the community, answering directly to the main needs and motivations of both Millennials and Generation Z, as the following table shows:

innovation management to engage generations y and z

As innovation becomes the natural way of doing business for both these generations, organisations should focus on gathering and maximising their potential. The greater challenge, however, lies in managing this process in an efficient, collaborative and transparent way, using technology as a bridge to make their voices and contributions a real part of the corporate evolutionary path.

READ MORE:
Six best innovation practices to engage Millennials and Gen Zers

FROM THE START:
Loyalty is no longer enough to both employers and the workforce

Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

Millennials and innovation in the workplace

In 2016, Deloitte collected the points of view of nearly 7,700 Millennials representing 29 countries around the globe. All participants had been born after 1982, had obtained a college or university degree, were employed full-time, and predominantly worked in large (100+ employees) private-sector organisations.

We have said it already: Millennials represent an increasing share of the workforce. Moreover, they are no longer leaders of tomorrow; they are, increasingly, leaders of today. As such, understanding their views on how business works and how it should conduct itself goes beyond mere academic interest.

According to Deloitte’s Millennials survey, if given the choice, one in four Millennials would leave his or her current employer to join a new organisation or to do something different. That figure increases to 44 per cent when the time frame is expanded to two years. Why are they so eager to leave their organisations? By 2020, the research adds, 40 per cent of employees will be self-employed or entrepreneurs.

This ‘loyalty challenge’ is driven by a variety of factors. Millennials, in general:

Feel under-utilised and believe they are not being developed as leaders or using their full potential in large-scale organisations. They express little loyalty to their current employers and many are planning near-term exits. Regardless of gender or geography, only 28 per cent of Millennials feel that their current organisations are making ‘full use’ of the skills they currently would like to offer. Millennials believe businesses are not doing enough to bridge the gap to ensure a new generation of business leaders is created.

They think that businesses should be more ethical and society more focused. They share positive views of businesses’ role in society. Millennials feel that most businesses have no ambition beyond profit, and that there are distinct differences between what they believe the purpose of business should be and what they currently perceive it to be.

Personal values have the greatest influence on Millennials’ decision-making. Millennials often put their personal values ahead of organisational goals, and several have shunned assignments (and potential employers) that conflict with their beliefs. Only when their personal values match with the organisation’s values do they say they would like to continue to work there.

The values that support long-term business success are treatment of people, ethics, and customer focus. Deloitte asked Millennials, ‘What are the most important values a business should follow if it is to have long-term success?’ They responded that businesses should put employees first, and that they should have a solid foundation based on trust and integrity. Customer care and high-quality, reliable products also ranked relatively highly in importance. Attention to the environment and social responsibility were also mentioned by a significant number of Millennials. It is noteworthy that few (five per cent) of those answering thought profit-focused values would ensure long-term success.

• Millennials are not anti-profit profiles and recognise money-making as a vital component of business success. They would simply advise against placing too much emphasis on short-term profit maximisation.

The link between Millennials’ loyalty and their feelings about business is not a coincidence. Large-scale organisations are not able to respond sufficiently to Millennials’ preferences. Companies need to be more agile, innovative and inclusive to recover the current deficits in the organisational culture. Thus, those organisations that ‘do the right thing’ may be less likely to lose their Millennial employees. Learning, listening, empowering and sharing are the key actions for them.

Next, we’ll look closer at the generation that follows.

READ MORE:
Generation Z and innovation in the workplace

FROM THE START:
Loyalty is no longer enough to both employers and the workforce

Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

Loyalty is no longer enough to both employers and the workforce

How does the fourth industrial revolution, blurring the real and technological worlds, affect companies and the way they do business? How do companies manage their corporate culture to increase employee engagement? What tools and methods are used to keep employees motivated and engaged?

The business world has been changing fast, even dramatically. In the not-so-distant past, loyalty was key to both employers and the workforce, with job security becoming a main goal. If you had the opportunity to work in a corporate company, and if you worked hard, you would have found yourself a job for life. The concepts of ‘loyalty’, ‘job security’ or ‘job for life’ just seem too detached from reality for companies and employees nowadays.

The Millennium generation – those born between the early 1980s and early 1990s – is conquering the workplace, slowly taking the place of Generation X, the baby boomers, born between the early 1960s and late 1970s. With the Millennium generation, a new set of values has arrived.

The rhythms and paradigm of life itself have changed. In our increasingly complex world, life, work, production and politics have become independent of time and space. Industries are being disrupted, start-ups are eating away business models and the average company these days lasts about a third of the lifespan of 50 years ago. The hierarchical structures defined in the industrial society are being replaced by active network systems and evolutive organisational models. The experience economy is spreading rapidly. We are not trying to solve the chaos anymore; we are only struggling to manage it.

Consequently, there is plenty of thinking and advice out there about different methods and approaches to sustain companies’ lifespans, drive sustainability and increase employee engagement. The real dilemma of large companies seeking to survive and adapt to rapidly changing market conditions is that they need more employees with creative and innovative ideas, but these profiles seem to be less inclined to work at large companies than in the past.

We will discuss why that is next.

READ MORE:
Millennials and innovation in the workplace
Generation Z and innovation in the workplace
How innovation can help you conquer the new generations
How to create a culture of collaborative innovation in younger generations
Why is innovation management a powerful tool to engage Generations Y and Z
Six best innovation practices to engage Millennials and Gen Zers

Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

How to conquer your Daily Innovation Zone

Once you’ve understood the four quadrants of the innovation model – steady growth, productivity gain, industry leadership, game change -, you’ll need a plan to conquer your own Daily Innovation Zone. This means also learning how to create game changing innovation with minimum cost and risk.

To do it, consider the green zone at the bottom of the model. This is the daily innovation zone and spreads across from process to product innovation but in a narrow band on the boundary of incremental change.

Innovation Quadrant for Corporate Innovation

The theory is that a company that trains itself to constantly innovate in this zone – small changes and improvements on a daily basis – will most certainly position itself to deliver that big radical, game changing product or industry leading process in the long run. These baby steps would help the company start small, take lower risks, and make innovation a part of its DNA.

Daily innovation is more about building a culture of innovation. It is not about creating an “innovation committee” or “working group.” It is about motivating everyone in the organization to think like an innovator, celebrating daily improvements in the life of the organization. A zone where saving a sheet of paper is treated on par with reducing the cost of production, or adding a new feature to a product.

From janitor to CEO, everyone is involved in the process. Self-driven, motivated and eager to make a change – with a sense of pride at the changes they bring and a reward that may be as little as a pat on the back.

READ MORE:
Creativity, creative leadership and the value of innovation management

FROM THE START:
“Innovation is not for us”, they say

By Rumman Ahmad. An MSc in Creativity and Change Leadership from Buffalo State University, Rumman trains, teaches and facilitates groups of people to learn and apply the creative process to solve problems, energizing and motivating them to do their best. He is also the organizer of an annual conference on innovation in Pakistan. An Exago partner since 2016 in this key geography, Rumman has developed a Model for Daily Innovation which can be complemented by Exago’s innovation management software.