An important question you have to ask yourself is: Why should human resources lead the corporate innovation agenda? The strategic management of people covers a wide range of organizational problems related to people, structure, and culture. For example managing change, organizational efficacy, of operations, skills, selection of resources depending on the company’s future requirements, and the overall development of employees. Taking this into consideration, it shouldn’t be surprising that the responsibility for innovative leadership should lie in large part with the human resources department.

Human resources as the facilitator of a culture of innovation

Creating, maintaining, and managing skills orientated towards innovation must be one of HR’s main objectives. But honing these skills and guaranteeing their sustainability goes through generating a culture of innovation. How can human resources contribute to building an innovative culture? Some ideas:

  • Implementing policies on incentives for innovation. These incentives should be financial, but can also be recognition.
  • Implementing specific training programmes on innovation for key leaders.
  • Disseminating the importance of comprehensive innovation: innovation in products, processes, and the business model.
  • Leading campaigns that ease employees’ fear of failure.
  • Ensuring a real budget for innovation. New ideas need to be prototyped and tested. Without real resources for this, ideas may always remain as that: just ideas.
  • Facilitating mobility and collaboration between people from different departments. Innovation often comes about when you bring together minds that have different knowledge, backgrounds, and perceptions of the world.

The agenda for innovation that we lead should be committed to building and maintaining a culture of innovation that is sustainable over time.

Human resources can lead a training agenda for innovation

In companies, employee training programmes tend to be the responsibility of human resources departments. HR should assume that it cannot delegate the responsibility for continuing education solely on the employee. Many employees are forced to juggle in order to balance their private lives and professional lives. They are not willing to sacrifice their personal time to keep up-to-date. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the corporation to find opportunities for training and design programmes so that employees understand current changes and those that are to come in order to build teams that are proactive when faced with changes in the business world. In other words, it is the human resources department’s responsibility to find ways to sponsor and promote innovative leadership.

For example, if corporate strategy points towards ensuring the company stays modern, with digital solutions, human resources should take charge of scheduling a training agenda on new technologies: What is blockchain and what possible applications does it have in our market? How can we apply machine learning in the digital solutions we offer our clients? Could 3D printing have a revolutionary effect on our manufacturing costs?

Human resources should lead well-being programmes for workers to retain their in-house entrepreneurs.

In other articles, we have seen how many entrepreneurs start new projects because they are fed up with their current jobs. Companies can turn into burnout factories. If people aren’t happy, why stay and try to create new things? It is HR’s job to design and execute programmes that seek to develop and promote the well-being of its in-house entrepreneurs. Programmes on incentives, work-life balance, teambuilding, and many other activities and programmes must be on the agenda for innovation designed by human resources.

In conclusion, in this article, we have seen how, given the nature of their role managing people, it’s crucial—as well as natural—that human resources takes the lead on innovative leadership and offers the necessary means to build a culture of innovation amongst employees.

Reflection question: Do we have a human resources department that leads the corporate innovation agenda?


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