How Do Businesses Encourage Intrapreneurship Among Employees?

Exploring the realms of intrapreneurship can unlock significant innovation within a company, as attested by CEOs and founders in our latest collection of insights. From cultivating a culture of strategic risk-taking to allocating time for passion-driven projects, we’ve compiled fifteen expert strategies to foster an environment where intrapreneurship thrives.

  • Cultivate a Culture of Strategic Risk-Taking
  • Leverage Upskilling for Intrapreneurial Growth
  • Empower Employees to Innovate Independently
  • Provide Autonomy for Employee-Driven Innovation
  • Reward All Attempts at Innovation
  • Use an Open-Door Policy
  • Support Employee Ideas with Resources
  • Encourage Passion Projects 
  • Build a Culture Around Innovation
  • Recognize and Reward Intrapreneurial Efforts
  • Input Flexible Processes 
  • Create an Innovation Incubator 
  • Foster Creativity with Resources and Recognition
  • Keep an Innovation Fund 
  • Allocate Time for Passion-Driven Projects

Cultivate a Culture of Strategic Risk-Taking

Since the very first day we founded seven years ago, we’ve prioritized creating a company culture that deeply values strategic risk-taking, experimentation, and learning from failures. This motivates the exploration of new ideas, the responsibility to bring them to life, and a flat hierarchy that encourages every team member to take initiative, which is crucial for fostering an environment where intrapreneurship thrives.

We emphasize the importance of context over control, allowing our team the freedom to understand the ‘why’ behind their tasks and the autonomy to find the best ‘how.’ We’ve seen this approach pay dividends in the form of continuous innovation and improvement across all facets of our operations.

A testament to this culture is our internal platform enhancements, initiated by employees who started as interns and grew into managerial positions and senior experts. They did this by simply asking the right questions and taking ownership of their projects; they’ve significantly contributed to our platform’s evolution, enhancing our customer experience, operational efficiency, and more.

A recurring example is when non-tech team members insist on trying to learn to code or to read code to try and solve problems faster or better communicate with our developers. This has improved our collaboration and sparked a lot of hobby developers, for example, in our Marketing team.

Mads Viborg Jørgensen, CEO and Co-Founder,

Leverage Upskilling for Intrapreneurial Growth

While not a common buzzword, I think intrapreneurship can be just as valuable within an organization, with its unique and untapped rewards. As a business owner, some of the most successful projects my company has benefited from involved an intrapreneurial spirit within a team or individual.

I encourage intrapreneurship among my employees with assignments I know specific employees have a bent for, which also requires me to know my employees on both a professional and personal level. I also know upskilling is a natural conduit for intrapreneurship, which leads to a more profound skill set for professionals in my organization, as well as increased personal satisfaction in a job well done through individual means.

One time, an internal project led to thriving intrapreneurship within a team was when I assigned my marketing department the task of coordinating a new social media campaign. Using skillful delegation, I knew who had technical expertise, who would craft effective copy, and which staff members had an eye for design. I let each part run with inspiration and project management to bring forth their distinctive insights to build a bankable result that capitalized on the strengths of all involved.

Stefan Campbell, Owner, The Small Business Blog

Empower Employees to Innovate Independently

I’m a big believer that the best innovations bubble up directly from employees’ day-to-day experiences. Who better to solve frustrations than those living them? So at EchoGlobal, I give everyone space and still pay them to dream up their own solutions.

Take this sharp recruiter who kept venting about productivity reporting gaps. These were the exact workflow issues our development roadmap would take months to address. Well, instead of asking her to sit patiently, I greenlit a side project: ‘Mock up ideas between assignments, in your margins.’ Brainstorm-style, no red tape or approval gates, just sketch freely. A few weeks later, she built an intuitive dashboard highlighting team activity bottlenecks, roster needs, you name it.

I preach this across all managers too—embrace some chaos and loosen way up on strict processes. Back passions with dollars and resources, even if the fit isn’t crystal clear yet. Trust that when the troops FEEL the frustrations firsthand, their sparks will drive the big innovations rather than any roadmap I scribble from the corner office. Never fails.

Lou Reverchuk, Co-founder and CEO, EchoGlobal

Provide Autonomy for Employee-Driven Innovation

The key to a workplace environment where intrapreneurship can thrive is to give employees as much autonomy, freedom, and flexibility as you can. Innovation is the result of exploration and experimentation, and those can’t happen if employees are given rigid steps and processes to follow, or are told exactly what they’re supposed to do during every moment of their workday. The better approach to drive innovation is to tell employees the objectives you’re looking for, provide them with the training and resources they need to meet them, then stay out of their way unless they ask for help or guidance. 

We have definitely seen multiple benefits from allowing our team members this kind of freedom. Just to give one example, it was one of our recruitment consultants who first encouraged us to adopt our current recruitment software. We had done things in a fairly ‘old school’ way, and this was still at the time that ATS and similar software was relatively new and not yet broadly used in the industry. We ended up adopting those systems well before many recruitment firms because an employee brought up the idea, and we empowered him to explore and implement this new technology. 

This is the main advantage of having intrapreneurs on your team, that I’d say to anyone who’s dubious about giving employees more control. You as the leader can’t have your eyes on everything at once, and may not spot the next major trends as soon as your employees who are on the ground with the work every day. By empowering your employees to innovate and try new things, you increase your odds of seizing more of those opportunities when they arise.

Jon Hill, Chairman & CEO, The Energists

Reward All Attempts at Innovation

To encourage intrapreneurship, you need to create a space that goes beyond making it safe to take risks—you must encourage employees to try, risk, and fail as they push the limits of their capabilities. If a teammate feels punished or judged if something goes wrong, they will be afraid to take chances and attempt to innovate. 

Model intrapreneurship and show them that taking chances is safe, then reward them for all risks—not just the ones that work out. Give a reward for a stretch project regardless of the outcome, with increased payoffs in line with the level of success achieved.

Robert Kaskel, Chief People Officer, Checkr

Use an Open-Door Policy 

I’ve always emphasized an open-door policy for new ideas. An impactful instance was when a team member proposed integrating environmental sensors into our digital signage. Initially, this project seemed ambitious, but it blossomed into an innovative feature that allowed our signs to display real-time environmental data, enhancing their interactivity and relevance. 

This initiative not only boosted our product’s appeal but also demonstrated the power of employee-driven innovation in creating cutting-edge solutions. It underscored the importance of cultivating an environment where employees feel empowered to bring forward and develop their creative ideas.

Alex Taylor, Head of Marketing, CrownTV

Support Employee Ideas with Resources

Encouraging intrapreneurship among employees is about fostering a culture where innovation and taking initiative are valued and rewarded. One effective way to do this is by providing platforms and resources for employees to pitch their ideas and supporting them in bringing these ideas to life. This could be through innovation labs, hackathons, or dedicated time and budget for personal projects.

A memorable instance of intrapreneurship leading to significant innovation within my organization was when a team member proposed an internal project aimed at automating a time-consuming manual process. The process in question involved compiling and analyzing data from various sources, which took up a considerable amount of time each week. Recognizing the potential for efficiency gains, we allocated resources to develop a custom tool based on the employee’s proposal.

The development of this tool was a collaborative effort, involving insights and feedback from various departments to ensure it met a wide range of needs. Upon its completion, the tool drastically reduced the time required for data compilation and analysis, freeing up employees to focus on more strategic tasks. This not only improved our operational efficiency but also demonstrated the value of listening to and investing in employee-driven innovations.

This experience underscored the importance of empowering employees to act on their entrepreneurial instincts within the company. It showed that when employees feel their ideas are valued and they have the support to develop them, it can lead to innovations that significantly benefit the organization. Encouraging intrapreneurship has since become a key component of our organizational culture, driving continuous improvement and keeping us competitive in our industry.

John Werner, President & CEO, Pilot John

Encourage Passion Projects 

Given my extensive experience as the Founder of Liberty Landscape, I’ve recognized that fostering intrapreneurship among employees is essential for driving innovation and maintaining a competitive edge. We encourage our team members to take the initiative on projects that they are passionate about, which not only enhances their job satisfaction but also leads to meaningful innovations within our company. 

For example, the integration of technology into our landscape designs was initially proposed by a team member who had a strong interest in sustainable practices. Their idea to implement smart irrigation systems revolutionized the way we approached water conservation in our projects, resulting in more sustainable landscape designs and a significant reduction in water waste for our clients. This initiative didn’t just stop at water conservation; it sparked a broader movement within our company toward incorporating technology in our services, such as intelligent lighting and weather-proof outdoor televisions. 

By providing the space for our employees to explore their interests and take ownership of their projects, we’ve not only improved our service offerings but also established ourselves as leaders in innovative landscape design. This approach has demonstrated the power of intrapreneurship in transforming a simple idea into a cornerstone of our business strategy, ensuring that we stay at the forefront of industry trends and meet our clients’ evolving needs with creative and forward-thinking solutions.

Nathan Amor, Business Owner, Liberty Landscape

Build a Culture Around Innovation

We’ve encouraged intrapreneurship at Oxygen Plus by building a culture around innovation and ideation. Our employees know just how important innovation is to us, and it’s essentially how our company and brand were built. We frequently encourage our employees to come up with innovative ideas through collaborative ideation sessions. And while not all of these sessions turn into new, innovative products, it does ensure our employees are reminded of that innovative mindset and it helps them to be more likely to identify innovative opportunities.

Many of our products at Oxygen Plus have been developed as a result of intrapreneurship. And I have no doubt that many more ideas and changes will come from it too.

Lauren Carlstrom, COO, Oxygen Plus

Recognize and Reward Intrapreneurial Efforts

In my journey as the former founder of Grooveshark and now leading a fractional CMO practice, I’ve realized the immense value of intrapreneurship. One profound instance was when a team member suggested we leverage user-generated content to create a more engaging community around music. This idea, initially overlooked, turned into a pivotal strategy that transformed how we connected with our audience, significantly increasing user engagement and retention rates.

Encouraging this level of innovation required creating an environment where ideas could be freely shared, without fear of dismissal. This involved regular brainstorming sessions where every member, regardless of their position, was encouraged to voice their thoughts. We implemented an ‘idea box’ where employees could anonymously submit ideas they felt could improve our product or user experience. This not only surfaced numerous invaluable ideas but also fostered a sense of ownership and pride among the team, creating a more dynamic and innovative workplace culture.

Moreover, recognizing and rewarding intrapreneurial efforts was key. After the success of incorporating user-generated content, we initiated a program to celebrate and reward innovative contributions from the team. This further motivated our employees to think creatively and take initiative, knowing their efforts would be acknowledged and possibly implemented. Through fostering a culture of intrapreneurship, we were not just innovating for the sake of growth but were also engaging our team in a meaningful way, leading to significant advancements in our business model and how we approached the market.

Sam Tarantino, Founder, Harmonic Reach

Input Flexible Processes

We have flexible processes. Fortador’s flexible processes allow employees to pitch, develop, and execute entrepreneurial solutions without bureaucratic restrictions. They can easily ask for resources, test and validate their ideas in a real-world context, refine them based on feedback, and integrate their innovations into our product line. 

Our flagship model, the Fortador Pro Max, was born from innovation by an engineer from our R&D team. He came up with an idea to enhance our steam cleaners’ efficiency by combining high-pressure steam with two cleaning solution capabilities. He aimed to test the viability of getting a steam cleaner ideal for car detailing, car washes, and other tasks. The engineer used our internal channels to secure the resources and test the prototype to check for performance, efficiency, water, and energy consumption. 

This innovation revamped our product portfolio and contributed to our legacy of industry-leading cleaning solutions.

Lev Tretyakov, CEO and Sales Director, Fortador

Create an Innovation Incubator

Encouraging intrapreneurship within an Information Technology (IT) department involves creating an environment where innovative thinking is not just welcomed but actively nurtured. One effective approach I’ve implemented is the establishment of an innovation incubator program within the IT department. This program allocates time and resources for employees to work on projects outside their regular responsibilities, focusing on new technologies or process improvements. We also foster a culture of open communication and collaboration, where ideas can be shared freely across teams, and employees are encouraged to take ownership of their projects, with the understanding that risk-taking is supported and failure is viewed as a learning opportunity.

A prime example of this approach in action was when a small team within our IT department proposed an internal project to leverage blockchain technology for enhancing data security and transparency in our supply chain management. Initially, blockchain was a new venture for us, but recognizing the potential, we provided the team with the support and resources needed to explore this idea. The project not only succeeded in creating a prototype that significantly increased the efficiency and security of our supply chain but also positioned our company as an innovator in using blockchain for practical business applications. 

This initiative not only demonstrated the tangible benefits of encouraging intrapreneurship but also inspired other employees to pursue their innovative ideas, leading to a more dynamic, forward-thinking IT environment. This experience taught us the importance of giving IT professionals the freedom to experiment and innovate, which in turn can lead to breakthrough solutions that drive the entire organization forward.

David Shuster, Managing Director, Managed IT Experts

Foster Creativity with Resources and Recognition

There are a few ways to encourage intrapreneurship among employees. One way is to create an environment that fosters creativity and risk-taking. This means giving employees the freedom to think outside of their job descriptions, take on new projects, and experiment with new ideas without fear of failure. Another way to promote intrapreneurship is by providing resources for innovation, such as time, funding, and mentorship. This shows that the organization values and supports employees’ entrepreneurial efforts. Recognizing and rewarding intrapreneurs is crucial in encouraging others to follow suit. 

By acknowledging their contributions and successes publicly, other employees will be motivated to take on intrapreneurial roles within the company. Finally, having a clear vision and mission for the organization can also inspire employees to think and act like entrepreneurs. When employees understand how their work fits into the bigger picture and see the impact it can have, they are more likely to take initiative and innovate. 

An example of when an internal project or initiative led to significant innovation in our organization was when a group of employees created a new customer service chatbot. This idea came from employees who noticed a gap in our customer service processes and saw an opportunity to improve it through technology. With the support of their managers, they were given the time and resources to develop and implement the chatbot.

Mandy Murry, Founder & CEO, Independent Hotel Consultant

Keep an Innovation Fund 

One effective strategy we’ve implemented at Peppermonkey Media to encourage intrapreneurship among employees is by setting up a dedicated innovation fund. This fund is specifically allocated for employees to explore new projects or ideas that have the potential to benefit our organization. It provides the necessary resources and financial support, empowering team members to pursue innovative solutions without the fear of financial constraints.

An exemplary instance of this approach occurred when a team member suggested creating a proprietary analytics tool to enhance insights into our digital marketing campaigns. With backing from our innovation fund, the project progressed from concept to development, enabling experimentation and iteration without financial constraints. This initiative showcased our dedication to fostering innovation and spurred other team members to share their ideas.

Our service offering was greatly improved by the effective creation and application of this analytics tool, giving us a competitive advantage in the field of digital marketing. Our clients saw better outcomes as a result of our campaigns’ increased targeting and optimization. This initiative is proof of the effectiveness of intrapreneurship and the observable advantages that arise from providing staff members with the tools and support they need to innovate within the company.

Vincent Iachetta Jr., President, Peppermonkey Media

Allocate Time for Passion-Driven Projects

Encouraging intrapreneurship among employees is crucial for fostering innovative ideas within an organization. One effective method we employ to promote intrapreneurship is through a unique initiative called ‘Innovation Time.’ 

Every month, we allocate a specific amount of time for employees to work on their own passion projects that align with the company’s objectives. This allows our team members to explore their talents, creativity, and entrepreneurial mindset freely while contributing towards the growth and innovation of our organization. 

One remarkable instance where this initiative led to significant innovation was when one of our guides developed our ‘Badass Ladies of the Met Tour’ – born out of a passion for lesser-known women’s stories in art and history, and enabled through the research provided by these autonomous project periods.

Tasia Duske, CEO, Museum Hack

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