The perks of open discussion in an innovative environment

With recent data showing how managers and employees often aren’t on the same page regarding workplace innovation, creatively minded individuals aren’t getting the proper resources to spread their wings AND the less creative types aren’t getting the opportunities and training needed to expand that skillset.One may wonder why such a disparity in communication exists and, most importantly, what we can do to harbor and nurture innovation. Luckily, there are ways companies can participate in the innovation conversation and allow their employees to flex their skills and think outside of the box.

Employers and hiring managers think differently

In a recent study conducted by University of Phoenix, just one in 10 hiring managers say their employees excel at innovation, and one-third of hiring managers report their employees lack key traits like “creativity and forward-thinking.”

There seems to be a disconnect between employers and employees, and Ruth Veloria, executive dean of University of Phoenix School of Business, points to a discrepancy between what hiring managers expect and the skills those employees actually have.

“While employers are looking for incoming employees with the necessary skills that fit the job description, they also want employees to demonstrate more than the skills on their resume by coming to the table with new, creative ideas,” says Veloria.

The same study goes on to show that only 10 percent of hiring managers say their employees excel at innovating. This is not to say those employees in question aren’t thinking outside of the box, they just — in some instances — need more resources and training.

While hiring managers both push for more creativity in different ways, those employees in question seem confident in their abilities to create and innovate. In the very same study where only 10 percent of hiring managers found their employees innovative, 82 percent of those same employees considered themselves to be innovative.

So, how do we hone creativity?

According to the University of Phoenix survey, managers want creative employees while employees want opportunities to be creative. So, why isn’t that happening now? For one thing, 36 percent say there’s just no time for innovation, while three in 10 cite a lack of funding. That’s not to say that employees don’t want to grow — in fact, 39 percent of employees would like the opportunity for more training, and 44 percent of employees believe access to technology would help speed along the process.

In some cases, growing creativity in the workplace is something that can be done by way of employers giving employees the necessary tools.

Dennis Bonilla, executive dean at University of Phoenix College of Information Systems and Technology, sheds some light on the ways employers can help their employees excel.

“Employers should […] offer access to critical tools that can help turn employees into innovators,” says Bonilla. “For example, University of Phoenix’s RedFlint experience center in Las Vegas gives employees, companies, and students access to resources like workshops, simulations, and top technologies that provide unparalleled opportunities and ultimately help turn ideas into realities.” It’s a center meant to “educate, incubate and accelerate business ideas,” which is a vital skill for the disillusioned.

“The aim of RedFlint is innovation,” continues Bonilla. Bonilla says RedFlint means “many different things to different people” and offers white boards on wheels, workshops, open conference rooms, and “Double Robots that augment telepresence” — truly an impressive array of options. RedFlint is one forum of how we can get our employees thinking, talking and creating like innovators.

Not every workplace is going to have what it takes to open the line of communication between hiring managers and their subordinates, but that doesn’t mean the conversation should end. There are myriad ways to inspire employees, starting with employers seeking out those resources and putting them in effect.

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