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

How to create a culture of collaborative innovation in younger generations

We have seen how Millennials and Generation Z are often disconnected from the strategic vision of a big organisation because they cannot see any links between their everyday work and the company’s business objectives.

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. Alignment with the organisation’s strategy becomes a personal matter, creating the foundation for increasing both engagement and personal satisfaction.

People on the front lines have, in fact, a unique perspective given their skills, experience and view into the organisation. Inviting employees to participate in the decision-making process by sharing their ideas about their work offers leaders multiple and very diverse points of view.

If you inspire people to think strategically about work, they will find ways to solve problems and opportunities for innovation that have the potential to elevate overall performance – and potentially improve their employees’ retention ratio.

With idea management software, such as Exago Smart, you can launch strategic business challenges and invite each employee to share ideas and insights on them. In other words, it allows employees, as individuals, to participate and have a say in building the company’s future together – aligning goals, seeking greater engagement and stimulating creative thinking and collaboration.

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.

In this sense, innovation management software can help you continuously find new answers, as change becomes constant. It also promotes a collaborative culture, for individuals and the community, answering directly to the main needs and motivations of both Millennials and Generation Z.

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

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

How innovation can help you conquer the new generations

A Gallup report shows that US companies lose $350 billion in revenue every year due to employees’ disengagement. In fact, 70 per cent of your employees are probably disengaged. Yet full participation is an emotional commitment that cannot be forced.

With the Millennials and Generation Z joining the workplace, the challenge rises: no longer can we believe that it is enough for a company to provide the work, and that an employee’s motivation will come naturally.

What is more, data shows that employees want to be more innovative at work and want to take more responsibility. This tells us that fostering creative environments and innovation initiatives will also nurture motivation, engagement and, therefore, productivity.

Three perspectives on the value of making companies more inclusive and collaborative

Innovation can be defined as the development of customer value through solutions that meet new, undefined, or existing market needs in unique ways. Solutions may include new or more effective products, processes, services,  technologies, or ideas that are more readily available to markets, governments and society.

The development of a corporate culture where innovation is incentivised and becomes the way of doing business can bring companies several advantages, according to different points of view:

  • From an organisational perspective, managers encourage innovation because of the value it can capture. Innovative employees increase productivity by creating and executing new processes, which in turn may strengthen competitive advantages and provide meaningful differentiation. Innovative organisations are inherently more adaptable to the external environment; this allows them to react faster and more effectively to avoid risk and capture opportunities.
  • From a managerial perspective, innovative employees tend naturally to be more motivated and involved in the organisation. Empowering employees to innovate and improve their work processes provides a sense of autonomy that boosts job satisfaction.
  • From a broader perspective, empowering employees to engage in broader organisation-wide innovation creates a strong sense of teamwork and community and ensures that employees are actively aware of and invest in organisational objectives and strategy.

In this sense, managers who promote an innovative environment can see value through increased employee motivation, creativity, and autonomy; stronger teams; and strategic recommendations from the bottom up.

READ MORE:
How to create a culture of collaborative innovation in younger generations

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

Generation Z and innovation in the workplace

Understanding Gen Z is critical to your company. By 2020, more than 20 per cent of the workforce will be Gen Z, say experts on young people in the workplace. For them, innovation is the way you do business.

Also known as Post-Millennials, the iGeneration, Founders, Plurals, or the Homeland Generation, Generation Z is the demographic cohort after the Millennials. Researchers typically use starting birth years that range from the mid-1990s to early 2000s, yet there is little consensus about ending birth years.

Gen Zers have been born into the crisis period of terrorism, the global recession and climate change. They are predicted to spend their young adult years in a time of economic and social renewal. They are also living in an era of changing household structures, and are the students of today and university graduates, employees and consumers of tomorrow.

Gen Zers are part of a generation that is global, social, visual and technological. They are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever. They are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social-media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. They comprise nearly 2 billion people globally, and they do not just represent the future: they are creating it.

In general, we can say that:

They are more private: Perhaps it is because they watched their older siblings get in trouble from posting controversial content on social media, but younger teens do not want to be tracked. Apps like Snapchat have seen explosive growth in the last few years.

They are purely entrepreneurial: Like Millennials, these students plan to be pioneers, not merely settlers in a career. Of current high-school students, 72% want to start their own business. They feel like hackers, not slackers.

Statistic: About 72 per cent of current high-schoolers want to own their own businesses, and 76 per cent hope they can turn their hobbies into full-time jobs.’ For the entire duration of the Generation Zers’ lives, the world has constantly asked them for feedback, response, creativity, and opinions. Generation Zers see great value in participating in activities with their whole person. Why would they not expect the same thing from their work?

They are multi-taskers: According to almost every measurement so far, these Gen Z kids will take multi-tasking to a new level. They prefer to be on five screens at once, not two screens like Millennials. Get ready to communicate with them while they look around, not into your eyes.

They are hyper-aware: Generation Z has communicated enough with marketing researchers and academics to reveal that they experience 4D Thinking. Because their minds are streaming in so many directions, they have become post-moderns who are hyper-aware of their surroundings.

Technology-reliant: Gen Zers are addicted to technology. Gen Zers put technology in the same category as air and water. They cannot imagine living without tech innovation and being connected all the time.

Those leading creative Gen Zers must prepare to become hands-on, coaching-style managers who promote innovation while customising and calibrating their direction and feedback.

READ MORE:
How innovation can help you conquer the new generations

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