How HR Nurtures Innovation

Companies are certainly thinking about people when measuring business success. We found the top KPI for innovation-driven growth – across all departments – is customer experience and satisfaction. And organisations recognise the contribution of their own people, as employee productivity is in joint second place.

Culture as a KPI

Like a living organism, innovation needs the right atmosphere to survive and thrive. In any business, this atmosphere depends on the culture, and how carefully it’s nurtured and supported. Dealing with people at both the individual and the collective level, HR teams are ideally placed to shape and foster this culture.

But HR may face an uphill struggle, as our latest research suggests many companies don’t yet recognise the role that culture (or the HR team) plays in innovation.

But productivity depends, in part, on an environment where people can flourish and do their best work – and the right culture is one element of this. However, organisation culture is the joint-lowest ranked metric for innovation-driven growth, suggesting many companies haven’t yet made the connection between culture, innovation, and performance.

This is where HR teams could take a leading role. And many hope to, but they’re struggling at the moment: Creating an innovation culture is an area where HR professionals want to encourage innovation, but there’s an 11% gap between aspiration and acting on that aspiration.

Leadership support could be the missing piece.

Leadership and roles

Looking at the big picture, a company’s overall culture often reflects the attitudes and behaviours of the senior management team. And HR leaders ranked ‘commitment from the leadership team’ at the top of a list of behaviours that support a culture of innovation specifically. By working closely with senior management, HR teams could build a culture of innovation from the top down, like measuring culture and talent – and in doing so, shift perceptions about their function.

Currently, IT, finance, and marketing professionals say HR is the department least likely to own innovation – and roughly one in seven professionals (14%) report HR has no role whatsoever. But in playing a leading role in changing company culture, the HR team could alter this perception while laying the foundations for greater productivity, innovation and success.

HR needn’t own the innovation agenda, but it certainly has equal weight voice – and as much at stake – as any other team.

To learn more about how HR and business leaders see innovation, and what they’re doing to foster it, read our report here.

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