Employees who innovate will often say the limelight is not a motivator, however, most agencies find that small efforts to recognize successes reap big rewards in terms of employees’ enthusiasm for innovation and in building greater awareness across their organizations.
From the start, develop a program that gives out awards to innovators for their work; use it to feed communication efforts. Use ribbons and prizes like ‘lunch with the director’ or ‘best of the best’ annual awards highlighted at conferences or in annual reports.
In the private sector, such as Google and Kiewit, innovation is rewarded with increasing responsibility and promotion. Kiewit has a leadership track for selected employees that features innovation prominently. In the public sector, this may be harder to implement because of personnel regulations.
It’s not enough for leaders to champion the value of an innovation in an annual report, strategic plan or other onetime event and move on; employees must see evidence that leadership is paying attention and that their ideas are implemented. Employees will quickly tune out a ‘fake’ initiative they don’t believe move innovations forward.