Do your employees feel confident at work right now? Or are you worried that the Great Resignation may impact your company? Take these steps to make sure that your focus on innovation is the reason employees stay, and not the reason they leave. 

There are a lot of reasons behind the current Great Resignation, but you may be surprised to find that one of them is innovation.

According to a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article, a high level of innovation at a company is the third top predictor of employee turnover, following toxic culture and job insecurity. According to the piece, “More-innovative companies, including SpaceX, Tesla, Nvidia, and Netflix, are experiencing higher attrition rates than their more staid competitors. The pattern is not limited to technology-intensive industries, since innovative companies like Goldman Sachs and Red Bull have suffered higher turnover as well.”

The MIT article indicates that an aggressive push for constant innovation can actually have a negative impact on an organization and its people. This doesn’t seem like great news for those of us who understand the power of an innovative culture.

I suspect this statistic is the result of innovation burnout—of not giving employees the tools they need to have confidence in their part in the innovation continuum. When employees are not trained to innovate with agility and efficiency, they may feel unable to help the company successfully meet the future. This lack of knowledge, tools and resources can contribute to innovation burnout and lower innovation confidence.

The surprise of the COVID-19 pandemic left many organizations unprepared for the tumultuous market changes, which exacerbated employees’ feelings. Even two years into this disruption, many companies are still trying to figure out what to do while factors continue to change.

To counteract this, leaders should create an environment of certainty, capability and trust so that their employees feel able to contribute to the growth of the company. Building innovation confidence is a significant way to boost retention, employee morale and the future success of both individuals and the organization.

What is Innovation Confidence?

Having innovation confidence means understanding how, where and when you can add value to the organization. You’re encouraged to find ways to drive new value, to grow and surpass current challenges.

For an employee, it boils down to how you feel when you come to work: Do you understand the problems you are dealing with? Do you have the passion and the drive to help solve those problems? Do you have the teams or resources to help communicate your ideas and deliver a solution that helps the organization survive and grow?

Company leaders should believe they are capable of thriving in the market. They should know they have the right talent, tools and knowledge to address the competition.

Lacking innovation confidence results in employees who feel discouraged and useless, often leading them to look elsewhere to contribute their skills. Leaders might consider quitting, changing industries or reducing services—contracting rather than expanding, holding a limitation mindset rather than a growth mindset.

Rebuilding and maintaining innovation confidence requires trust. Trust that the company knows where it wants to go, that you can contribute to value creation and that you can rely on others—your team members and colleagues—to work together to deliver a desired future.

Even during ongoing change and uncertainty, you can cultivate these elements to begin to build trust, establish confidence and secure your organization’s future. Here are four ways to grow innovation confidence:

Create a Clear, Strategic Path Forward

Where is the organization now? Where is it going and what’s required to get there? Leadership should offer clarity on both short- and medium-term strategies. The vision of the organization’s future should be just as clear as the steps to get there and the resources being allocated.

Cultivate a Mindset of Winning

Whether or not you are behind now does not mean you are losing. You can still win—and even get ahead—if you follow the strategic path you laid out in step one. Creating this mindset includes fostering an atmosphere of agility and creativity and allowing employees to contribute toward the activities set out in the strategy.

Take Failure off the Table

When companies place high value on constant ROI, they lose out on the creativity that employees can offer when they’re not afraid of failing. Allow space for ideation an experimentation that leads to learning. Every idea doesn’t have to be a home run.

Define Sustainable Behaviors for the Future

This is where trust comes in. Think about what these behaviors should look like and how they manifest in the day-to-day. Micro-trust activities, meaning how you engage with others on a daily basis to promote engagement and confidence, are key.

These activities can include team collaborations and meetings, a team-centric and cross-collaborative organizational restructure, encouragement of frequent and clear communication and—most importantly—creating a culture of experimentation. This allows teams to learn together and fosters a sense of moving forward by delivering on what was learned. Building micro-trust activities into the organization’s culture allows employees to practice agile mindsets and build individual innovation confidence.

Innovation doesn’t have to contribute the Great Resignation. Confidence in innovation activities is essential for every employee, and following these guidelines can encourage a culture of confident innovators to carry you through disruption.

About the Author

Dr. Evans Baiya is an internationally recognized and trusted guide to business leaders and innovators. Using his 6-stage process, he helps the businesses identify, define, develop, verify, commercialize, and scale ideas so the businesses and individuals can learn, grow, and thrive.  He is the co-author of the award-winning book, The Innovator’s Advantage and co-creator of The Innovator’s Advantage Academy, a detailed step-by-step innovation training. Learn more at

Featured image via Unsplash.