Workplace Innovation for Companies

Researchers have accumulated a vast body of evidence relating to the impact of workplace innovation on productivity, quality, customer service, financial performance and a broad array of other business outcomes.

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One of the most significant studies, the Employee Participation and Organisational Change (EPOC) survey of 6000 workplaces in Europe, confirms that direct employee participation can have strong positive impacts on productivity, innovation and quality. Of firms which implemented semi-autonomous groups, 68% enjoyed reductions in costs, 87% reported reduced throughput times, 98% improved products and services, and 85% increased sales.

A representative sample of 398 Finnish manufacturing firms with more than 50 employees found that practices such as employee empowerment and labour-management cooperation are positively correlated with firm productivity. Research among 650 Dutch SMEs also indicated that companies with workplace innovation initiatives achieve higher productivity and financial results compared with other firms.

Another study based on 932 Dutch companies of different sizes in different private business sectors demonstrated that factors including participative and dynamic management practices, flexible organisation and smarter working lead to better performance in relation to turnover, profit, market share, innovation, productivity, reaching new clients and reputational capital.

Extensive Swedish surveys found a very clear link between flexible, empowering forms of work organisation and performance: flexible organisations were more productive (+20- 60%), showed a much lower rate of personnel turnover (-21%), and a lower rate of absence due to illness (-24%) compared with traditionally organised operational units.

A review of some sixty American articles shows that the magnitude of the impact on efficiency outcomes is substantial, with performance premiums ranging between 15% and 30% for those investing in workplace innovation.

High performance and good work: mutually supportive, not a trade-off

As well as enhancing business performance, empowering work practices increase employee motivation and well-being, playing a particularly important role in reducing stress, enhancing job satisfaction and mental health, and improving retention.

An evaluation of 470 workplace projects undertaken in Finland between 1996 and 2005 shows that improvements in quality of working life have a strong association with improvements in economic performance, and indeed may actually enable them. Findings suggest that participation is the main driver of this convergence between economic performance and employee well-being.

Likewise a German study examined companies in the production, trade and services sectors where positive improvements were made in physical workload, sickness absence, ergonomics, work organisation, safety, style of leadership, and stress management. Managers in these companies reported improved performance across a range of indicators, resulting both in a decrease in absenteeism and an increase in social and vocational competences.

Your Guide to Workplace Innovation

The guide to Workplace Innovation covers

How do you build a high-performing organisation that is also a great place to work?

Our free Guide offers inspiration and solutions, helping you assess current practices in your organisation, suggesting pathways to change, and signposting further sources of information and support.

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For Policymakers
What is Workplace Innovation?
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European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN)

EUWIN was established by the European Commission in 2013 and is now entirely supported by contributions from an international network of partners co-ordinated by HIVA (University of Leuven). EUWIN also functions as a network partner to BEYOND4.0 and BRIDGES5.0 projects.

Contact: Workplace Innovation Europe CLG (