When did you last try something really innovative, different or out-of-the-box with your employees?

It’s easy for day-to-day management tasks to interfere with the trying out of new ideas: whether it’s a new office layout; introducing new benefits or experimenting with different methods of communication.

Here are a few ‘real life’ examples and ideas from a cross section of organisations that have dared to be different – the one thing they all have in common – they and their staff were willing to give something different a try!


Hubspot – an American internet marketing company, has experimented with a variety of benefits that are based on trust, including the offering of ‘unlimited vacation’!  It’s based on the premiss that many employees no longer work standard nine to five hours, so should have more say in what time-off they access. Since its introduction over two years ago, treating employees more like self-employed business people has fostered increases in productivity and loyalty. Last year, Hubspot was ranked the second fastest-growing software company on the Inc 500 – they must be doing something right!


3M – don’t forget how the humble Post-it note came into being – scientist, Art Fry, came up with the now iconic product during his ‘15% time’, a programme developed at 3M to allow employees to use a portion of their paid time to hatch their own ideas. If this idea is good enough for the likes of Google and Hewlett-Packard to adopt, could it be right for you? It seems to work particularly well in environments that nurture creative competitiveness.


Tanimura & Antle – third generation American agricultural producers, break the mould when it comes to employee benefits, with a whole suite of incentives not normally associated with their industry, including medical, dental, vision and life insurance, pension contributions, childcare facilities and even scholarships to employees’ children for college educations! Their rationale for investing in their people is simply to attract and keep a dedicated and motivated workforce.


Xceed Group – IT network specialists, are early pioneers of using employee-owned consumer devices in the workplace and believe this approach has helped increase productivity and staff motivation. As it is now possible to control smartphones via software and networking solutions and provide far greater business confidentiality, using employees’ own devices has also significantly reduced their IT costs. However, businesses do need to balance the benefits against the security risks before deciding if this is a feasible option for them.

I think it will be the trusting organisations that can give their people a little more freedom in the mechanics of how and when they work, that will have tomorrow’s competitive advantage.

Have you tried anything a little different recently? Please do let me know!

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