Guide
Workplace innovation

What's workplace innovation?

Clare Alexander, head of workplace innovation at Scottish Enterprise

Author Clare Alexander

Job title Head of workplace innovation

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A more engaged and productive workforce

Since the launch of our workplace innovation service in August 2016, we've supported more than 200 companies to improve their productivity and better engage employees.

In that time, our offer has also expanded to include a new series of workshops, a fund to support new workplace innovation projects, as well as introductory taster sessions for those companies who are taking the first steps to embrace people-centred practices in their business.

Workplace innovation not only helps create more empowered employees – it can also make businesses more efficient, productive and profitable. Figures show that, for companies who practice workplace innovation, staff turnover is over a fifth lower, while absences are reduced by nearly a quarter. 

One study showed that of the 6000 European firms surveyed, 68% saw a reduction in costs while 85% experienced increased sales.

Companies who have engaged with us are already seeing the benefits. 85% of attendees of our workshops said that the events had highlighted a new opportunity for their business, while 43% left the sessions having identified a new customer or collaborative partner.

If you would like to find out more about how workplace innovation can support you in your business growth plans, come along to one of our upcoming workshops, introductory sessions or masterclasses.

Book your place

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Workplace innovation fund

Realise your ambitions and introduce innovative practices with the workplace innovation fund.

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Did you know?

Small changes can deliver big benefits

Only 25% of UK employees feel they have the scope to learn and problem-solve in their jobs compared to an EU average of 39%. What’s more, half of employees in most Scottish SMEs say they're under-utilised and feel they could make a bigger contribution to the success of the business.

By empowering your staff to be more independent in the workplace, your business could benefit from higher levels of innovation and, in turn, bring a more creative approach to your business practices.

Effective leadership, ideas-sharing, staff recognition, skills development opportunities and workforce diversity are all significant factors to consider towards creating a happier, more productive workforce.

Happier, healthier staff

A Swedish survey has shown a clear link between workplace innovation practices and the happiness and well being of staff. 

Organisations showed a 21% decrease in personnel turnover and a 24% reduction in absence.

Productivity goes up

Research from across the US and Europe shows workplace innovation can increase productivity by up to 30%. 

Just a 5% increase in productivity would add £6.4 billion to the Scottish economy.

However, Scotland still has some catching up to do when compared to its European neighbours.

A lower proportion of UK employees (25%) report they have the scope to learn and problem-solve in their jobs compared to an EU average of 39% and higher performances in Denmark (60%) and Netherlands (64%).

Fresh ideas deliver results

A Dutch study suggests that 75% of successful innovation is generated by changing managerial, organisational and work practices at an enterprise level.

Get help when you need it

That's where we come in.

We have a workplace innovation service to help you take your business to the next level – whatever stage you're at now. 

From leadership masterclasses, workshops and business mentoring we can help support your business at every step.

People. Place. Practice.

There are three areas where workplace innovation can make a real difference: your people, workplace and business practices. 

Our new free interactive workshops are designed specifically to help you uncover new ways of working. 

View our available workshops

Berwickshire Housing Association has benefitted from introducing workplace innovation
Berwickshire Housing Association has benefitted from introducing workplace innovation
Berwickshire Housing Association has benefitted from introducing workplace innovation

"By unlocking innovative approaches to staff development, we've experienced 30% growth in revenues year-on-year over the last three years and doubled our staff."

Wendy Edie managing director of eCom Scotland

Innovation in action

Laggan Outdoor explore new ways of working

Originally a family farm, Laggan Outdoor in Dumfries and Galloway decided to move into hosting outdoor activities. Over the years the business has evolved from a self-proclaimed “lifestyle” business to a multi-functional outdoor centre.  

Beginning with archery in the cow shed, the farm has since become home to a range of outdoor activities as well as a café, luxury snugs and wedding venue GG’s Yard.Beginning with archery in the cow shed, the farm has since become home to a range of outdoor activities as well as a café, luxury snugs and wedding venue GG’s Yard. 

Workplace innovation concepts have shown the company how to better delegate responsibilities in order to get the most out of its workforce.

Putting more trust in its staff has enabled Laggan Outdoor to add to its offering as an outdoor activity centre and operate as a profitable, efficient and responsive business all year round.

Read the full story 

“Workplace innovation opens so many different avenues, in so many different areas; it allows you to look at changing your business and gives a different mindset in how you see the future.”

Mark Selvey Factory Skatepark

Liberty Steel's story

Turning ideas into solutions

Liberty Steel is one of ten companies taking part in Scottish Enterprise's Workplace Innovation Engagement Programme. 

Liberty Steel engineers
Innovation in action at Liberty Steel
View Video

Watch this video to hear first-hand experiences from Liberty Steel employees as they implement fresh ways of working to overcome challenges in the workplace.

"Great ideas can come from anyone in the workforce – workplace innovation helps to unleash them," says Willie McWhinnie, chief engineer at Liberty Steel.

Want to find out more about our workplace innovation service? We'd love to hear from you.

Make an enquiry



Jamie McCallum, senior electrical engineer, Liberty Steel
Listening to employees and sharing ideas openly can help strengthen your workforce
Jamie McCallum, senior electrical engineer, Liberty Steel
Listening to employees and sharing ideas openly can help strengthen your workforce
Jamie McCallum, senior electrical engineer, Liberty Steel
Listening to employees and sharing ideas openly can help strengthen your workforce

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About the Author

Clare Alexander, head of workplace innovation at Scottish Enterprise

Clare Alexander

Head of workplace innovation

Clare Alexander is Scottish Enterprise’s head of workplace innovation, and believes business leaders should be predisposed to see the power of their people. 

Clare leads a team of workplace innovation specialists who encourage businesses to think about enabling staff to make full use of their skills, experience and creativity in their everyday tasks, making business processes as profitable, efficient and responsive as possible. 

She believes that work that provides opportunity, fulfilment, security, respect and gives employees a voice can generate significant profit for businesses, and benefits for individuals.