A constructive approach to creating mistakes spurs innovation


The results of the Swiss HR Barometer were generated from a survey of over 2,000 employees and show that a tendency to both innovate and learn from mistakes is commonplace in Switzerland. Some 86% of employees believe that mistakes can be useful for their own work, giving them the opportunity to learn. This forms a solid basis for the innovative strength demonstrated by companies in Switzerland. Employees also report that they feel supported by both their leaders and their colleagues and that in many companies there is a culture of psychological safety. A proactive approach to errors is encouraged, as any errors are flagged and used as a point of reflection. Another encouraging result is that less than 10% of employees say they tend to hide their mistakes.

However, the survey also reveals potential for improvement, especially with regard to the willingness to give employees more time to develop new ideas. In addition to this, the study shows that cross-departmental management staff could better support staff in their ideas. Employees could also be better supported when it comes to openly confronting the risks of making mistakes.

Impacts of innovation and cultures of error

A corporate culture that encourages innovative behaviors and learning from mistakes among employees is not only desirable when it comes to innovation, but also has a positive influence on general attitudes towards work, as well as the experience of employees. employees from their work situation. Those who work at companies with such a culture report less stress, more job and job satisfaction, greater commitment to the organization, and less intention to quit.

Similarly, alongside cultural factors, work design is also central to innovative behaviors and learning from mistakes. Autonomy, variety of tasks and participation are the most important characteristics of work in terms of promoting innovation. While high autonomy and a wide variety of tasks are relatively common, there is a need for improvement when it comes to participation. It would be a company allowing employees to contribute to its decision-making processes.

Trend of increasing expectations

With regard to working conditions in general, which are also recorded by the Swiss HR Barometer, an overall positive picture emerges. It is certainly also the result of the current worker-friendly conditions in the labor market. The expectations of employees as defined in the so-called psychological contract (see box below) have increased somewhat, as has what is offered to employees by companies. In addition, compensation deemed reasonable by employees and the availability of development opportunities are of concern. With regard to the latter, what is particularly worrying is that the trend towards the reduction of training days, already apparent in previous editions of the Swiss HR Barometer, has increased. Similarly, performance reviews and career planning, two key elements of staff development, are not conducted or even offered frequently enough.

We can conclude that, if the state of the labor market continues to be favorable to employees, behaviors at work will become more dynamic. Currently, while intention to quit is low, perceived employability has increased for the first time in a decade and employees are reporting more dynamic forms of job (dis)satisfaction, indicating rising expectations and greater willingness of change. Companies should have improved HR practices to combat this and pay particular attention to compensation and staff development.


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