Main Content

Work practices can often be what makes or breaks a company. Choosing ones that shape a positive culture for your organisation can create an environment of experimentation, learning, innovation and the development of self-managed teams.

Introducing different ways of working – or workplace innovation – has proved to be a springboard for many companies towards achieving stronger business performance. 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.

Many organisations are simplifying their company’s structure by removing layers of management and encouraging employees to take more ownership of their work.  Work practices are becoming more flexible, and new ideas can be explored without fear of failure.

However, Scotland still has some catching up to do in comparison to our European neighbours. Only 25% of UK employees say they have the scope to learn and problem-solve in their jobs compared to an EU average of 39%, Denmark and the Netherlands lead the way with over 60%.

Ask yourself these five questions to find out if your business practices are bringing out the best in your employees. 

1. Do you use digital solutions to support agile, creative and innovative teams?

A recent Scottish Futures Trust report estimated that increased digitalisation could boost the economy by up to £13 billion in the next 15 years. 

But investment to achieve this will not pay off if we fail to design jobs and workplaces that unleash the innovative potential of employees. 

Having a sound understanding of how digital can work for your business is key to staying competitive. 

Find digital support from Business Gateway

2. Do you understand your organisation's strengths and weaknesses?

In order to create and maintain the ideal organisational culture for your company, it can help to take a step back and look at what you can do to support your staff to ensure they are motivated, and help them to be more productive.  

The ‘Be the Business' benchmarking tool allows you to analyse your organisation’s digital capabilities, talent management, leadership and future planning.  It’s possible to benchmark your company against others, by region, sector or size, and enables you to see weaknesses and opportunities.

Assess your company’s position

3. Do you want to attract a more diverse workforce?

47% of the workforce would like to work flexibly but only 6% of adverts are designed or advertised flexibly.  This is restricting the talent pool from which employers can recruit.   

It's important that employers think about job design before recruitment, and give potential qualified applicants the confidence to ask about alternative patterns of work. To enhance your employee productivity and retention, decrease time and cost spent on recruitment, reduce absenteeism and widen your talent pool, it’s helpful to create family friendly workplaces. 

Family Friendly Working Scotland (FFWS) supports and promotes the development of family friendly workplaces across Scotland. They work with employers and support them to embed family friendly working practices, which bring significant benefits to both employees and businesses. Having these practices helps give your business a competitive advantage, particularly in sectors with skills shortages.

Find out more about FFWS

4. Could your company grow through co-ownership and collaborative business models? 

There are currently 564 co-operative businesses in Scotland with a combined turnover of just over £3.3 billion, and a combined workforce of nearly 16,000 staff. In addition, 78 employee-owned businesses are based in Scotland, with a collective turnover of over £900 million. They employ approximately 6,500 staff.

Co-operative models are collaborative business structures which play an important role in creating sustainable growth. They enable employees, businesses and communities to work together to fulfil shared interests, helping to unlock creativity and capacity. 

There’s growing evidence to suggest that co-operative businesses increase productivity, innovation and growth, while achieving wider social benefits.  Research shows that productivity is boosted by 4-5%, and sustained at a higher level in employee-owned businesses. They’re also disproportionately prominent in the Sunday Times ‘Best Companies to Work For’.

Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) is the arm of Scottish Enterprise working that supports company growth through collaborative and employee ownership business models. Find out how they could help your business.

Develop your organisation 

5. Are you looking to introduce new and innovative workplace practices?

Are you considering a small-scale project around themes such as leadership, organisational culture, developing your staff, or re-design of your existing workspace? The workplace innovation fund can contribute up to £5,000 towards these types of activities.   

The fund will support projects centred on at least two out of the three following themes: 

  • People – Motivating staff beyond pay, for example recognising benefits of diversity, being innovative about recognition and reward, and supporting learning and development  
  • Place – Improving or maintaining a positive workplace culture, creatively using physical space,  or creating time to innovate using new technology 
  • Practice – Supporting fairness, responsibility and productivity at work. This could include building in flexible working practices, creating self-managed teams and fostering a culture of leadership and coaching.

Apply for our workplace innovation fund