The role of HR professionals in change and innovation of organizations

The role of HR professionals in change and innovation of organizations

September 27, 2023

As the modern-day business landscape continues to evolve, companies face a myriad of challenges from fast technological changes, increasing competition, and customer demands. To remain competitive and relevant, organizations must find ways to innovate and adapt quickly to these changes. This is where the role of HR in innovation comes in.

HR professionals have become key players in making businesses more innovative and adaptable. Their strategic approach and expertise in human capital management can help companies build the foundation for innovation in business by fostering an innovative business culture and identifying and nurturing the talent needed for successful innovation and change efforts. In this article, we will explore the role of HR in innovation and driving organizational change and innovation.

Developing innovation & change DNA in leadership

Innovation leaders are essential for any company seeking to stay ahead of its competitors. These are people who have the vision, curiosity, and courage to challenge the status quo and drive innovation within their organizations. 

The impetus for innovation often begins with leaders. Their vision, mindset, and commitment to embracing change set the tone for the entire organization. Effective leaders understand that innovation is not merely a buzzword but a strategic necessity. They champion innovative thinking, inspiring their teams to explore new ideas and approaches. To find these leaders, HR may use various methods, such as targeted recruitment campaigns, internal development programs, or leveraging external networks. Once hired, HR also provides training, coaching, and mentoring to these leaders to develop their skills and prepare them for leadership roles.

Leaders set the tone for innovation by creating policies that encourage creative thinking, experimentation, and risk-taking. These policies are not just lip service but a commitment to fostering innovation at every level of the organization. Beyond policies, incentive programs play a crucial role in motivating employees and leaders alike to pursue innovation. For instance, Google has its famous “20% time” policy where employees spend 20% of their working time pursuing their own innovative projects. This has led to the development of some of Google’s most successful products and services, such as Gmail and Google Maps.

Building diverse teams for collaborative innovation

Through innovation in human resources, diversity and inclusivity are essential for fostering an innovative and creative work environment. HR plays a pivotal role in building diverse teams that bring together people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.

By creating an inclusive culture, HR can encourage collaboration and teamwork, which can lead to the development of innovative solutions. Some of the strategies that HR may use to build diversity and inclusivity include targeted recruitment campaigns, diversity training programs, and employee resource groups.

HR can also help different departments work together effectively by facilitating cross-functional collaboration and communication. By bringing diverse teams and departments together, HR can create a more holistic approach to innovation and change efforts.

The role of HR professionals in building diverse teams for collaborative innovation
The role of HR professionals in building diverse teams for collaborative innovation

Nurturing a culture of innovation

One of the key roles of HR in innovation is to create a culture that fosters innovation by encouraging open dialogue, risk-taking, and experimentation. By creating an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, taking risks, and experimenting, HR can help to drive innovation and growth.

To encourage innovation, HR can establish reward systems that recognize employees who contribute innovative ideas. This can be

  • Encouraging open dialogue: Employees should feel comfortable sharing their ideas, even if they are not fully developed. Utilizing hr innovative practices, HR can create an open dialogue by holding regular brainstorming sessions, encouraging employees to share their feedback through surveys and suggestion boxes, and making sure that everyone’s voice is heard.
  • Rewarding risk-taking: Innovation often requires taking risks. HR can reward employees who are willing to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things. This can be done through monetary rewards, promotions, or public recognition.
  • Supporting experimentation: Experimentation is essential for innovation. HR can provide employees with the resources and support they need to test out new ideas and learn from their mistakes. This may include providing time off for innovation research and development, as well as access to collaboration tools and resources.

Implementing innovation and risk management

Turning innovative ideas into action requires effective implementation strategies. HR plays an important role in change management by developing and implementing strategies that support successful change initiatives.

HR may create communication plans that explain why change is necessary, what it involves, and how it will benefit the organization. They may also involve employees in the change process by gathering feedback, addressing concerns, and providing support.

As part of the push for change and innovation in the workplace, risk management is also critical during the implementation of innovative ideas. HR can help assess and mitigate risks by developing and implementing safeguard policies and procedures. For example, HR may conduct risk assessments and provide training on new technology or equipment safety procedures.

Tapping into the expertise of HR consulting services can enhance the success rate of these innovative implementations.

Balancing stability and continuous improvement

While innovation is essential for business growth and success, it’s equally important to ensure ongoing operations are not disrupted. HR plays a vital role in ensuring that innovation efforts don’t compromise the stability and continuity of the organization.

HR may implement “iterative innovation,” which involves continuously improving existing products, services, or processes. This approach allows for small changes that don’t disrupt ongoing operations and yet still lead to significant improvements over time.

HR also helps the organization adapt and continue innovating by fostering a learning culture,  including implementing strategies to expedite reskilling in the workplace. They also may create training programs, mentorship opportunities, or other development initiatives to encourage employees to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends.

The role of HR professionals in balancing stability and continuous improvement
The role of HR professionals in balancing stability and continuous improvement

Metrics and ethical considerations

In its role of HR in innovation, HR plays a critical role in measuring creative efforts and ensuring that they align with the company’s ethical standards and social responsibilities. HR may establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of innovation efforts.

Some of the KPIs that HR may use include the number of innovative ideas generated, the percentage of employees involved in innovation, or the impact of innovations on the organization’s bottom line. By tracking these metrics, HR can determine whether their innovation strategies are effective and adjust them accordingly.

HR also ensures that innovation aligns with the company’s ethical standards and social responsibilities. They may develop policies and procedures that ensure there is no infringement of patents, intellectual property rights, or other legal provisions. HR may also provide training on ethical considerations for innovation to employees and leaders.

Here are some examples of ethical considerations that HR may need to address in relation to innovation:

  • Privacy and data protection: HR needs to ensure that new technologies and processes do not violate the privacy of employees or customers.
  • Bias and discrimination: HR needs to ensure that new products and services do not perpetuate or amplify bias or discrimination.
  • Environmental impact: HR needs to consider the environmental impact of new technologies and processes.
  • Social responsibility: HR needs to ensure that innovation does not have a negative impact on society or the environment.

HR professionals play a crucial role in driving organizational change and innovation. From developing innovation leaders to building diverse teams, nurturing a culture of innovation, implementing innovation and risk management strategies, balancing stability and continuous improvement, and measuring innovation and ethical considerations.


The key to successful innovation is having the right people, processes, and policies in place. This is vividly demonstrated in the upcoming THE MAKEOVER 2023 event, where HR’s role in organizational innovation will be a major focus. HR professionals are instrumental in ensuring that companies have the talent and infrastructure needed to drive innovation and change efforts.

By understanding the importance of HR’s role in organizational innovation, organizations can create a more sustainable approach to innovation that aligns with their business objectives and values.

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