Innovation training can help make your business more flexible and resilient to disruptive changes in your industry. Did you know that it can also help make your workplace more efficient?
By engaging in training designed to foster innovation, employees can learn and be inspired to create new solutions to old challenges that are more effective and efficient than previous methods. The question is: how can you make sure that your innovation training improves workplace efficiency?
Use the following 4 tips to increase your business’s efficiency through innovation training:
1) Encourage Employees to Find Innovations with Positive Reinforcement
One of the things you can do with your innovation training is establish a reward program for employees who find faster or more resource-efficient ways to accomplish basic tasks.
For example, say that you’re a manufacturer, and a worker introduces an innovation that reduces time to completion for a product by 10% or the need for reworks/remanufactures by 50%. This kind of innovation could massively improve production output and save both time and money for the company.
Without some kind of reward, there’s little incentive for the worker to bring that innovation to your attention. However, with a reward program in place, that employee has a reason to present that innovation to you—their employer.
Now, this reward doesn’t have to take the form of a monetary bonus. In fact, research highlighted in a Big Think article that “mid-range financial reward does not increase proficiency at routine tasks, and large sums may even increase the pressure under which workers operate, causing them to choke under the strain.”
An alternative to paying bonuses is providing employees with extra time off for vacations. Another idea could be to honor employees with a “Best Idea of the Month” plaque and turn it into a contest to see who can come up with the best innovation each month.
2) Train More Than Once to Reinforce Lessons
There’s a concept in education known as “learning loss,” which typically refers to the information/knowledge that students lose over summer break when they’re out of school. The same concept can be applied to workplace training. Basically, if your employees don’t use the training, then they’ll lose the benefits of it over time.
To prevent workplace learning loss, it’s important to repeat, reinforce, and use the lessons learned in training over time. So, rather than treating innovation training as a “one and done” event that your team only goes through once, do the following:
- Break Up Training into Several Smaller Sessions. Instead of hosting an hours-long, draining lecture, try breaking up your innovation training into many shorter, easier to digest sessions that each highlight a specific element of the training program. Your employees won’t be as overloaded—allowing them to focus more and better absorb information.
- Hold a Pop Quiz (or Two) a Week Later. To really reinforce the lessons from the training, let your employees know that you’ll be quizzing them on what they learned. This quiz doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be too in-depth—just a quick couple of questions about what was covered, and maybe a demonstration of how they’re applying it to their work.
- Have More Experienced Employees Coach Newer Ones. One of the best ways to learn anything is to try to teach it to someone else. Set up mentoring pairs where your most experienced employees (or the ones who are most successful at innovating in the workplace) provide guidance to the workers who may be struggling with the concepts of the training. Your struggling employees will benefit from the unique lessons and perspectives provided by their mentors, and the employees offering the mentoring may get even better at innovation.
- Hold a Refresher Course. Every now and again, hold a training refresher course to renew the information for your workers. How often you hold these courses is up to you, whether you do them quarterly, annually, biannually, or so on. Some companies may choose to do this training just after each of their major hiring periods, while others just hold this training during the slower times of the year when there’s more free time to focus on training. Occasional retraining helps keep the information fresh in an employee’s mind, preventing learning loss.
3) Tailor Innovation Training to the Role of the Employees Completing It
Just like a sales department has to tweak their elevator pitch to the person they’re making it to, leaders have to tweak the training of their employees. Training programs that make sense to and engage an accountant might not work so well with a design engineer or sales clerk, and vice-versa.
Training programs need to take into account who is being trained, how many people are being trained at once, and the outcomes that are being sought.
So, before sitting a group of employees down to do innovation training, review the training program and make sure it has been optimized for the intended audience. This rule, naturally, can be applied to almost any kind of training program and not just innovation training.
Tailoring training might mean using a specific format, such as online training, roundtable discussions, lectures, or one-on-one roleplay sessions with employees, in which you pose a problem and ask them to come up with a solution on the spot.
By tailoring training to the audience, you can maximize the effects of the training so it has more impact on efficiency afterward.
4) Keep Scalability of Training in Mind When Fashioning a Training Program
In a perfect world, we’d all have unlimited time and money to craft perfect training programs that would help each and every employee achieve their maximum potential. However, in the real world, we all have strict deadlines and budgets that have to be adhered to.
So, when crafting an innovation training program, you need to focus on what the goals of the program are, which elements of training are most critical for achieving those goals, and how the training can be most efficiently delivered to employees.
Setting goals may mean taking some time to establish appropriate success metrics for the training. For example, attendance rates and session scores from employees could be appropriate metrics to track during the training, and the rate that innovations occur or other business outcomes can be good metrics to track after the training. This helps businesses gauge the return on investment that the training provides.
Additionally, when creating the training, compare your training budget to the number of people that need training and the estimated time it’ll take to complete the training. This can help you establish the most economically-efficient training method for your innovation training so you can train more of your employees at once.
Get started on making your workplace more efficient by using our Big Think+-exclusive training course right now! Our online innovation program features short-form, easy-to-implement training videos hosted by industry experts to engage your employees and maximize results.