Workplace innovation as an important driver of social innovation

نوآوری در محل کار به عنوان یک رانشگر مهم در نوآوری اجتماعی

Innovation at work
Workplace innovation (abbreviated as WPI) has two concepts: the innovation process and the innovation issue. The WPI process is to engage and engage employees when the organization is developing or implementing renewal and change. This “bottom-up” approach means that employees are involved in the process. Innovation is not so much about new products, services, business models or technology, but about renewing and improving “soft” and “intangible” issues. For example, work organization (good job design, self-directed teamwork), human resource management (measures that keep employees engaged), engagement and labor relations (which promote employee commitment), and assistive technologies (technologies that do not ” “control and control”. The purpose of WPI is to contribute to organizational performance (efficiency, competitiveness and ability to innovate) and work quality (effective, healthy and meaningful jobs) simultaneously. Therefore, WPI enables an organization to adapt to new conditions and technologies by making better use of human talents and abilities. The form of workplace innovation combines the topic and process of workplace innovation. Often management starts to renew. Modern managers engage employees in the process of developing and implementing interventions and methods. This cooperation leads to guaranteeing efforts to obtain benefits for both the organization and the employees.

Link to social innovation
Social innovation responds to social needs by using social methods. “Social” in the context of workplace innovation refers to non-technical innovations and emphasizes good quality jobs and employee engagement. Social innovation assumes that people need leadership to solve social problems. But people only begin to do so when they have access to power, and one condition that warrants these actions is when people have meaningful employment. Participation through work provides participation in society. This type of participation is designed through WPI – as employee participation and engagement – through a bottom-up innovation process.

Workplace innovation in action
Although innovation in the workplace can take many forms, the hallmarks are employee participation—a protective organizational culture—and employee involvement—maximum decision-making authority for employees. Two examples from Eurofund’s 2015 Workplace Innovation in European Companies report illustrate this.

Leadership as a foundation for workplace innovation
“We want this to be a business where perspectives are listened to and where communication is open and honest. We also want this to be a workplace where positive ideas are encouraged and where achievements are celebrated,” HR manager of an energy company It says in England. The introduction of open forums took the place of company-wide meetings and previous proposals that had encountered difficulties in stimulating open and constructive dialogue. The CEO’s open leadership builds trust and employees have confidence in the future. According to one staff member: “It’s interesting, isn’t it? You go to open forums and people will say what they think and no one at all says: I can’t believe he said that. (…) It seems that It’s really confidence.”

Partnering with unions as a foundation for workplace innovation
In a Danish service organization, organizational changes are discussed by the manager and union representatives. They have a partnership and evaluate each other’s opinions. The process of implementing these changes involved several steps: 1) management took action, 2) external consultants supported the process, 3) experiments were conducted (for example, a work team tested new meeting exercises), 4) “inviting” to sharing the same knowledge for everyone through training, and 5) implementing methods. No exact evaluation was done, but adjustments were made along the way. Both management and employees believe that it is important to design the process in such a way as to create “designers” among employees. “It gives the company a lot of motivation to work together to create a great work environment,” explains the union representative. Employees believe that, although management sets the direction, they should feel confident that they can have a critical say about it: “It should be perfectly legal to give our direct opinion to the manager – and it is. There may be disagreements.” , but you have to be able to check things” (Staff).

Eurofund report on implementation of innovation at work
which range from organizational structure changes to cultural changes through behavioral changes. Most examples are due to the desire to improve work quality and performance simultaneously. And most of them have chosen to implement these changes from the bottom up.

This report examines the reasons for adopting workplace innovation and explains its

This report examines the reasons for adopting workplace innovation and explains its implementation in European companies. This report analyzes the effects of workplace innovation from the perspective of different actors – organization, management, employees and employee representatives – in 51 companies in 10 EU countries. The analysis shows that while the types of workplace innovation in companies are diverse, the process of implementing these innovations shows significant similarities. While the reasons for introducing innovation in the workplace are primarily related to increasing efficiency, competitiveness and innovation, a positive outcome seems to be that it helps strengthen the position of employees and employee representatives. In other words, the results of workplace innovation usually lead to simultaneously improved economic performance and a better quality of work life for everyone involved.

Innovation at work across Europe
What qualifies an organization as a “Workplace Innovation Quality Mark”? According to most definitions of workplace innovation, such an organization has a “work organization” in which job autonomy and self-management shine. They have an “organizational culture” where learning, trust and collaboration are effectively implemented. Their “structure and systems” support equality, reduce organizational walls and ceilings, and promote integration of activities and goals. And finally, “mutual coordination” means dialogue, honest communication and participation in changes.

Eurofund’s European Enterprise Survey measures several of these elements, making it possible to create a “Workplace Innovation Index”: a measure that provides information on the level of innovation growth in companies’ workplaces. For this purpose, several variables were selected from the survey, which, for example, measure the level of participation and involvement of employees and the presence of job autonomy. Using the Workplace Innovation Index, EU countries (including Montenegro, Macedonia, and Turkey) can be ranked (to see the graph of the average growth of workplace innovation in organizations in Europe).

With an average score between the UK and Belgium, it can be roughly seen that the Scandinavian countries and much of Western Europe have the most workplace innovation organizations. These countries combine the longest history of social dialogue and labor-management cooperation.

Making the most of innovation in the workplace
Empirical facts so far about workplace innovation show that it has a high potential to make organizations more innovative and effective, while creating jobs where people can participate in social innovation at the organizational level. However, if we consider that the background of the Eurofund study shows that only 5-10% of European companies have achieved a high level of innovation growth at work, we can see that a lot of effort can still be made in this area. In recent years, the EU has been facilitating ways of innovation at work and integrating it into its programs on research, innovation and social improvement, as well as complementing technological innovation with innovation as part of its innovation policies. The workplace pays. However, due to the lack of use of innovation in the workplace, EU innovation policies are unsatisfactory in terms of technological and business model innovation. The capacity of workplace innovation is not only limited to the level of organizations, but workplace innovation can contribute to reducing social problems such as unemployment, employee representation and social dialogue and social solidarity. One of the main measures to get this way has been the creation of the European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN), which disseminates new knowledge about workplace innovation. The next step is for operations to learn from the many examples in their ever-growing knowledge bank.

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