How to Inspire Innovation Among Employees Foster the collective happiness and creativity of your team by listening, crowdsourcing responsibilities and providing mentoring.

By Benoit Gruber

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Keeping up with competition means being able to innovate almost 24/7. That can be taxing on your employees who are already working hard to complete current tasks and keep up with the flow of business.

One thing you can do to streamline creativity is to make sure important business data is organized in one place, such as cloud-based business management software, so that you can access the information you need when it's needed. Having your processes in place will free up time and allow you to be a leader who helps inspire your team for productive breakthroughs. Here are some more ways to inspire innovation among your hard-working employees.

Related: How Steve Jobs Inspired People to 'Dream Bigger'

1. Give employees freedom by listening.

When an employee feels as though their ideas are being heard, they are a lot more likely to share them. Happiness makes people 12 percent more productive, and generating that happiness can be as simple as taking the time to hear out their thoughts. If you run a business across geographies, set up calls with various location leads and have them schedule time with their teams.

When you get to know the passions of the people involved in your business, you'll create a culture of acceptance that will make everyone more willing to get involved. You never know what ideas are out there until you take a moment to hear them.

2. Put it on a schedule.

It seems like, in today's world, in order to lend a hand you have to allow for time to be innovative. We're always on the go or too focused on our current task to spend time coming up with better business solutions. If you want to foster innovation, make time for it. Develop weekly or monthly brainstorming meetings where your team can throw ideas around. Putting everyone face to face creates an experience that can be remembered and offers more than an email blast.

If you're in multiple locations, you can use Google Hangout or Skype to video call one another. You can also use these communication tools to collaborate internally outside of scheduled meetings. That way, your teams can share ideas regardless of time zones or locations, which allows for innovation to happen anytime, anywhere.

Related: What Sets Apart the Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America

3. Crowdsource your management.

You want a business culture that is known for communicating and collaborating with one another, and what better way to do that then using the collective intelligence of your team? When a project comes up, chances are you're assigning the same leaders to the same kinds of work. However, there could be someone in a different department who can offer a new take on an old problem.

Seventy-one percent of companies are expected to invest in these kinds of open innovation projects, so it's a chance to get your foot in the door of something new. Giving employees the chance to come up with an idea and follow it through is extremely effective for driving your company forward and inspiring creativity.

4. Provide mentoring.

It won't always be you offering one-on-one feedback to your team -- especially if you have multiple locations. Mentorship programs are valuable connections. They help get employees thinking outside of their expertise. To mix things up and keep them modern, start developing reverse mentorship programs. This style allows your younger employees to take the lead and offer their insight into technology trends and a growing generation of customers. They will be the ones building the future of your business, so I recommend setting them up with a foundation for success now.

Providing opportunities for creative thinking and collaboration will add value to the lives of your employees. Build innovation into the core of your practices, and you'll set employees up with the tools they need to successfully execute projects and remain inspired daily.

Related: How to Think Like an Innovator

Benoit Gruber

Vice President, Corporate Communications, Sage Enterprise Market and Sage X3

Benoît Gruber joined Sage in 2008 and is the vice president of corporate communication for Sage Enterprise Market and Sage X3. He is responsible for product management and marketing for Sage X3 globally, and is in charge of ensuring that the operating company teams are aligned behind the product strategy. Prior to working at Sage, Benoît worked at SAP from 2000 to 2008, where he held a variety of marketing and product management positions before becoming senior industry principle.

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