Only a third feel able to innovate at work

Only a third (33%) of UK employees feel empowered to innovate, according to research from Accenture

Published in the company’s Getting To Equal 2019 report, the research found that the vast majority of executives in the UK agree that continuous innovation is essential and key to business competitiveness and growth. Almost all (95%) saw innovation as vital to their business, and 91% of employees want to innovate.

But while 76% of leaders said they regularly empower employees to be innovative, only 34% of employees agreed.

The research found that in the UK employees’ willingness and ability to innovate is seven times higher in companies with a robust culture of equality than in less-equal companies. UK employees in more equal workplace cultures are less worried about failure, with 81% stating they are not afraid to fail in their pursuit of innovation, the research found.

It revealed that leaders mistakenly believe that some circumstances encourage innovation more than they actually do. For instance, they overestimate financial rewards and underestimate purpose as motivations for employees to innovate.

Providing relevant skills training, flexible working arrangements and respect for work/life balance motivates employees most when it comes to being innovative, the report stated. It found that this applies to employees across different industries, countries and demographics.

Employees’ willingness and ability to innovate is also stronger in fast-growing economies and countries with high labour-productivity growth. Accenture calculated that global gross domestic product would increase by up to £6 trillion over 10 years if the innovation mindset in all countries were raised by 10%.

“Our research reveals that a workplace culture of equality is an overlooked driver of innovation within companies,” said Rebecca Tully, executive sponsor for human capital and diversity for Accenture in the UK and Ireland. “By understanding what motivates their employees and fostering an environment where people feel empowered, business leaders have the opportunity to unleash the innovation required to compete effectively in an era of disruption.”

Accenture’s research is based on a survey of more than 18,000 professionals in 27 countries (including 700 in the UK), a survey of more than 150 C-suite executives in eight countries, and a model that combines employee survey results with published labour force data.