Every year when Fast Company’s annual list of the one hundred best workplaces for innovators comes out, I get excited.

It’s one thing for a company to be innovative; it’s another for employees to love to work there.

What do these companies have in common?

They offer meaningful employee engagement and a chance to change the world with cultures that facilitate collaboration and reward free exploration, even in the face of failure.

Toy giant Mattel operates a “virtual garage platform” that encourages workers at any level to pitch new concepts, while Maverick Quantum, a Texas-based artificial intelligence platform, goes one step further, soliciting ideas not only from employees but also from their family members.

Grocery retail services company Retail Business Services opened an Innovation Center of Excellence, while entertainment company Electronic Arts runs multiple annual internal events to celebrate and encourage employee innovation.

All of these are amazing, not just for the innovation, but because they bring with them the secret of something even better: employee-generated stories.

When employees are fully engaged in the innovation process, they tell each other, they tell recruits, and even retirees help spread the word. The result?

Greater retention and engagement, easier recruitment and increased morale.

I believe those companies that are unafraid to create space for their people to ideate without limits are the same companies that will power our future.

What idea will you take from this list of top one hundred companies and bring back to your leadership and HR teams?

Send me an email and let me know.


This Week’s Best Articles on Innovation

Developing Innovation as a Creative Capability: Lessons From Judging Highly Innovative Companies – FORBES

Does Innovation Come “Out of the Blue”? – Psychology Today

How to Cultivate Innovation in Your Organization – FORBES

On The Front Lines of Space Innovation – MIT

Tips on How to Help Innovative Ideas Get Wings – From Universities to Businesses – The Conversation

Why Psychological Safety is Key to Creating an Innovation Culture – Associations Now