HR trends Stimulating innovation through training and development

For some companies innovation is a core value, exerted in every action. For others, it’s a competitiveness requirement. In both cases, innovation is an essential growth factor that can be stimulated through training and development initiatives.

Several studies show that companies that master innovation have invested considerably in training and development programs. In these initiatives, employees can develop their creativity and their problem-solving skills, becoming better at adapting to change and improving their flexibility.

By advancing job performance and employee engagement, training and development initiatives can stimulate inventiveness and improve a company’s competitive edge.

As an HR manager, you have to balance performance and innovation through your human talent pool. The best way to achieve that is to empower and equip employees with the necessary knowledge and experiences and build their commitment. Encourage each individual to develop their unique talent and assert it in a stimulating working environment.

Now here’s what you need to keep in mind when creating a training and development program:

1. Needs assessment

Not all of your employees have the same level of understanding, preparation, skill or experience. They also have individual expectations, each of them based on their particular career path and aspirations.

Your job is to find out what your starting level is and where they want to get. Naturally, it’s also your job to correlate those goals with the company’s objectives, what you need your employees to know and the level that they are expected to reach to ensure performance.

One of the top 3 reasons why employees leave a company is the lack of development opportunities. Keep an eye on your team’s Happiness Index. Use Hppy to ask questions and poll employees, inviting them to also send anonymous feedback with their honest needs and expectations.

This process will also help you gain employee commitment and ensure their willingness to participate in the programs because they want to, not because they have to. After all, you’ll be delivering information that they want to obtain because it will help them grow further.

2. Crafting the curriculum

Based on the results of your needs assessment, you have a clear starting point of how the agenda for your training and development program will look like.

Using your strategic overview of what employees want and need, what the company wants and needs and how it all links together, you can start drafting your curriculum.

Start with your company’s objectives, such as stimulating innovation and initiative. Set overall objectives for the entire program, as well as specific objectives for each individual block or session in the agenda.

Involve your management body in this planning process to make sure that their needs are also met and incorporated in the objectives you’ve set.

Be careful not to fall into a common trap and educate too broadly. 91% of companies usually rely on standard, enterprise-wide ethics and compliance instructional programs, preventing employees from receiving targeted information to help them in their day-to-day work. (Source: LRN)

To keep employees in the loop and make sure you’re on the right track, you could send an initial draft for feedback. The same goes for the management team, constantly ask for feedback and suggestions from their part as well.

3. Preparing and delivering the agenda

Who will be delivering those sessions? What methods will be used? When? How? Where?

Decide on who will be delivering the sessions: internal staff, external guests or both. Having employees and management involved in delivering sessions can be a great way to improve work relationships, foster engagement and share knowledge. It depends on the objective for each session.

Together with your speakers, go through the entire flow of the curriculum. Discuss the best ways to deliver your sessions. I’d recommend combining several methods, such as the use of lecture and audio-visual techniques; hands-on methods, like on-the-job training and behavioral modeling; and group-building methods such as team training and adventure learning. A mixture of these different methods can enhance the creative, problem-solving, and people skills of employees.

Passive learning, where employees are expected to just sit back and listen to a number of facts presented to them, is considerably less effective than active learning, where they get a chance to get involved and use what they’ve learned.

4. Feedback and follow-up

After all the hard work you’ve put into organizing and delivering this program, it’s sometimes such a relief to be over with it that you stop there. As tempting as that might be, it’s also a dangerous mistake.

You need to know how the program turned-out, what the success rate of every objective is, what improvements can be made in the next edition and, most importantly, how people feel.

Here’s where Hppy comes in most handy: it gets the pulse of every employee, the general state of your team and can also provide you with critical feedback. Honest, anonymous feedback that you can use to assess the success of the program and plan your future steps.

If your primary objective for this training and development program was to stimulate innovation, your follow-up strategy should be a clear action plan that does just that: stimulate innovation.

Come up with activities and projects that build on the information delivered and create an active learning environment, where employees can push their creativity to the maximum.


A training and development program is the best way to encourage innovation and creativity in your company. It’s also a great way to retain your best talent and push your company’s growth.

Make sure you follow these essential steps: needs assessment, designing a curriculum, preparing and delivering the agenda, getting feedback and following up on it. Most importantly, constantly communicate with employees, and build the program to fit their necessities.

How do you stimulate innovation in your company?

Image credit: Dirk Tussingunder C.C.2.0