Employees value innovation opportunities, says L'Oréal HRD

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Helping entrepreneurial employees improves engagement and retention of top staff, according to L'Oréal HR director Isabelle Minneci.

Minneci is currently overseeing the Next Fund initiative at the company, which offers employees £100,000 to develop ideas for the organisation. She told HR magazine the concept has driven innovation and sustainability. 

"One-third of employees in the UK want to work for a company that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship," she said. "We've seen great results from our programme. Often employees' ideas are related to environmental issues, which is a great advantage to us."

Minneci acknowledged that there is a risk of staff wanting to branch out on their own after receiving funding for their ideas, but insisted it is a risk that is worth taking. She said that if employees go on to their own interests, the company would still be behind them. 

"There is always a chance some of the talent will leave," she said. "But most of the research suggests this risk is outweighed by the benefits of engaging the majority of staff. Also, if someone does go on to do something that does good for society, it's great that we have been a part of that."

The judging and feedback process for the awards need to be closely monitored, according to Minneci. This will avoid any resentment from unsuccessful applicants to the fund. She added that giving detailed reasons for favouring other projects, as well as constructive feedback to aid further ideas, means employees will not feel disengaged. 

"All the best leaders I know have failed a lot in their career," she said. "If we encourage an environment where people are not afraid to try and fail, we will definitely reap the benefits in innovation and unlock workers' potential."

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