University of Phoenix commissioned a 2016 online survey on workplace innovation, speaking to both employees and employers to better understand if companies are implementing innovative techniques and tools, and how well they’re being embraced and understood by employees. By evaluating both the employer and employee perspective, University of Phoenix took a deeper look at where American companies are succeeding with innovation in the workplace, as well as where they’re coming up short.

The survey showed that individuals perceive themselves to be innovative and to a large degree held back by their company’s lack of resources, while hiring managers view the majority of their employees as missing key innovative traits. 


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According to the survey, half of employees (51 percent) rated their company as just “keeping up with the times.”

What’s more, over half of employees say their company is average when it comes to creativity (54 percent) and predicting trends (57 percent).

But employees may not be keeping pace with employers’ expectations.

Employers may need to do more to empower their teams to innovate, as three in five (61%) employees said they have the resources to innovate, but 75 percent said they would be more innovative with better tools.

Some of the factors that may account for this innovation gap include:

Greater access to professional development tools may help employers fill this innovation gap and prevent some employee turnover.


Additional Findings

How employees perceive innovation at their workplace:

Over half of employees say their company is “average” on several key innovative traits, including:

  • Forward thinking (52%)
  • Creativity (54%)
  • Predicting trends (57%)


How employees view themselves:

  • 84 percent of employees consider themselves to be innovative
  • When asked to grade themselves, 66 percent of employees rate their innovation skills as an A (19 percent) or B (46 percent)
  • 42 percent of employees rate their skills as “very current”
  • 54 percent say their skills are more current than their colleagues


But employees’ ability to innovate may fall short of their managers’ expectations:

  • Over 1 in 10 (13 percent) say they have been let go from a position because they were not innovative enough
  • 71 percent of employees say the skills needed to adequately do their job have undergone change due to the industry demands in the past five years


Employees don’t feel their company provides them with the resources to Innovate to their best ability or opportunity to drive change:

  • 75 percent of employees say that if their employer provided them with better tools, they could be more innovative
  • 61 percent of employees believe they have the tools needed to innovate
  • While 2 in 3 employees (67 percent) agree they have an opportunity to safely voice their opinion about company change and business development, less than 3 in 5 (58 percent) feel their opinions and ideas are heard


And employees may start looking for a new job that provides the innovation tools they need:

  • Nearly 3 in 10 (27 percent) say they have left a previous job because of lack of opportunity to innovate
  • One in three (33 percent) say they contemplated leaving their job because of this issue


Employees say having access to the following would help encourage them to be more innovative:

  • Latest technology (44 percent)
  • Dedicated resources (time and money) to innovation (40 percent)
  • Training (39 percent)
  • Vision from senior leadership (29 percent)
  • Implementing innovative practices (26 percent)
  • Creative thinking spaces (22 percent)
  • Public recognition or rewards (21 percent)


And the following would increase their ability to be innovative:

  • Financial rewards (38 percent)
  • Putting more budget to innovation (36 percent)
  • Opportunity to attend seminars (36 percent)
  • Time to work on projects that are outside of the daily scope (33 percent)
  • Flexible work hours (32 percent)
  • Opportunities to work with cross functional teams (30 percent)
  • Regular meetings to promote new ideas (24 percent)
  • Presenting ideas to management (24 percent)
  • A reward system for successful new ideas (21 percent)



This employer survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix and included 1,008 U.S. adults aged 18 and older who are full-time employed in a company of 10 employees or more, work in HR or senior management and have some influence over hiring decisions. The employee survey consisted of 2,009 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, who are full-time employed in a business of 10 or more employees. All were surveyed between Sept. 26 and Oct. 11, 2016. For complete survey methodology, please contact the University of Phoenix External Affairs team.