In a perfect world, every employee would be content and engaged. But, obviously there is no such thing as perfection; every employee at one time or another feels the pressures of work, or is dissatisfied with one or a number of work situations. So, employers are faced with the job of creating a workplace that counteracts these occurrences and fosters employee engagement.
A very effective and simple strategy to engage employees and create a workplace environment that gives way to creativity is to provide ‘inspiration time.’ According to an article at MinnPost.com, writers Audra Otto and Timothy Huebsch note that employee rewards and other initiatives, such as ‘inspiration time,” can be utilized to generate employee engagement and satisfaction. That engagement factor will lead to the creation of innovative ideas.
Using Google’s “20 percent time” initiative as an example, the writers explain that the program permits workers to devote one day a week to put effort into other projects that may be completely unrelated to their work-related responsibilities. This type of atmosphere fosters a sense of freedom and inspiration, which in turn boosts employee engagement, which in turn sparks creative thinking and new ideas. An example of the type of creativity and end result this program can ignite is AdSense and the initial Gmail’s prototype.
While this type of initiative needs some supervision and guidance, it provides the environment wherein employees can brainstorm independently or in groups, putting effort toward projects that can potentially benefit the organization. "I would argue that it's a manager's responsibility to make time for employees to pursue independent projects. These ‘side projects’ are useful for any professional or collaborative team and help organizations move forward and stay on the cutting edge of their fields,” quote the writers.
Not only do these programs encourage innovative thinking, but they also foster employee loyalty. In the current improving job market and survey results from researchers such as MarketTools that show approximately 50 percent of employees are contemplating seeking new job opportunities, employers need to provide more effective employee engagement and satisfaction strategies.
Other statistics from the survey show:
- 47 percent of employees felt unhappy with their salary
- 24 percent felt they were overworked
- 21 percent found advancement to be too difficult
- 21 percent disliked their manager or immediate supervisor
Justin Schuster, vice president of enterprise products at MarketTools, told the writers, “A strong correlation exists between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, a company’s revenue and profitability.” He added, “Satisfied, engaged employees provide a better customer experience that leads to customer satisfaction and loyalty."