Albert Einstein is attributed with saying, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” In other words, unless you try something new, you will never get new results, which may explain some of the difficulties that many home care providers face as they look at caregiver retention, client referrals, etc. That is why change and innovation are critical to progress in a home care agency. However, it is often easier to talk about innovation than to cultivate it. These four suggestions can help you to build a more innovative workplace:

1. Ask for ideas

The simplest way to get an answer to a question is to ask it. If you’re wondering how your company could re-envision its scheduling system or you’d like to improve your training program, ask your employees for ideas. This is a great way to get a broad range of ideas and to get feedback from people directly affected by these programs. They can offer you an insider perspective into what is and isn’t working and offer suggestions for how to improve. As you hire new caregivers, ask them why they left their old agency as well as what they enjoyed there. By asking your employees what they think, you’ll not only get innovative new ideas, but you’ll also create a culture in which your employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and expressing constructive criticism.

2. Hire people who love what they do

When your employees love what they do, it ceases to be work, and innovation becomes second nature. Without being asked, your employees will begin to find ways to improve their care and work flow. As you hire, look for individuals who fit your culture and vision for what your business can become, and then give them space to contribute to and enhance that vision. As you identify and hire these individuals, observe how they work differently than other employees. Take note of the little extra things they do or the small ways they make their work more efficient. If you notice that one employee is doing something better, implement that with all of your employees.

3. Reward good ideas

When an employee offers you a good idea or someone’s work stands out to you, let her or him know. Nothing fuels creativity and innovation in an employee more than seeing it rewarded. As you begin to search for and reward innovation, more employees will begin to contribute and notice that their ideas are taken seriously. This will improve their engagement with their work and their investment in  your company mission.

4. Test and evaluate new ideas

Theodore Levitt once said, “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” Once the creativity begins to flow, you need a system to put those new ideas into practice. It requires a bit of risk to test out and measure a new ideas, but the payoffs can be great. When you consider a new project or operation, consider the impacts and costs, and then set a time frame for evaluating its success. New ideas don’t always turn out as you planned, so if you find that a project isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, it’s okay to let it go and try again.

Innovation is essential for progress. While it may come with a rocky start, creating a culture of thinking and innovating in your company will increase employee engagement, and with time improve all your operations as you begin to put into practice the new ideas you generate.

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