Big ben BritainUK companies who cultivate innovation in their workers can expect to grow way more than European rivals. This information comes courtesy of new research by the London Business School and Microsoft.

These latest findings suggest that companies who nourish a culture that allows employees to experiment with new ideas are more likely to succeed in terms of innovation. And this makes absolute business sense.

A study of 9,000 employees and managers crossing 15 European countries determined that innovative firms in the UK are 13% more likely to anticipate double-digit growth in the next five years.

However, the UK has innovation demons of its own. When attempting to execute changes, British firms are 40% more likely to encounter communication struggles. This hurdle is its third most significant barrier to change, following a lack of technological support and a perceived lack of need for change.

President of Microsoft Western Europe, Vahé Torossian, stated: “Our customers and partners across Europe tell us that keeping up with the pace of digital transformation and innovation is among their chief concerns. What they may not be considering as thoughtfully is how their workplace culture could help them innovate – or hold them back.

“To stay a step ahead of the competition, companies from every industry are looking for new ways to improve their business, from embracing the latest technology to shifting strategy, to diversifying and developing their workforce. And as you might expect, our customers and partners are eager to leverage innovations like artificial intelligence and the cloud to propel their businesses forward.”

While it is clear that firms in the UK need to deal with their communication issues, the analysis found that innovation leaders across Europe are going way beyond encouraging conversation.

Promoting collaboration, team empowerment, and encouraging employees to stay “in the zone” are just a few tactics businesses can adopt if they want to see the double-digit growth the continent’s most innovative companies are anticipating.

However, encouraging collaboration in its approach must be well-thought-out. Studies showed that workers lost up to 52% of their ‘optimal work time’ due to random distractions such as meetings and emails.

London Business School’s Dr Michael Parke, a contributor to the research, stated: “Decades of research tells us that one of the most important contributors to people’s engagement is being able to make progress on meaningful work. Protecting employees’ focus so that they can make quick progress on their important work goals is vital for their engagement, accomplishment, and willingness to adapt to changing demands.”

The research discovered that a critical part of promoting staff stay in the zone was the freedom to work more flexibly. Data also showed that innovative companies listen and give employees a voice, adding value and job satisfaction – this was 74% compared with 43% of non-innovative businesses — a striking comparison.