EESC opinion: Innovative workplaces

EESC opinion: Innovative workplaces

Key points

The Committee believes that it is the European Union's task to support all Member States and companies in their efforts to increase workplace innovation. Innovation at the workplace is used to try and remodel organisational activities in a sustainable way while at the same time improving both productivity and the quality of work.

The EESC recommends that, in order to improve the balance of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Commission should launch a pilot project on innovative workplaces as part of the "Innovation Union" flagship initiative. The main thrust of the project should be improving the quality of working life. The EESC believes that further studies should be initiated without delay on the relationship between the quality of working life, innovativeness and productivity, and that a European index should be introduced describing the quality of working life and its effects on innovativeness and productivity.

The EESC is concerned that EU funding is focused on high-technology product innovations, and that workplace innovations do not feature prominently enough. In its view, innovation policy should concentrate more on how the different partners can work together more effectively to promote innovative workplaces and in that way improve the EU's competitiveness and well-being.

The EESC recommends that the Commission and the Member States should reflect seriously on what kinds of policies and work organisation have been effective in enhancing innovativeness through investment in skills.

The EESC notes that Member State governments have a strategic role to play in this sphere: investment in innovation projects and different economic incentives are the key. Efficient use of funding to promote innovation calls for a long-term perspective, a methodical approach and support in the form of advice and guidance with launching and carrying through improvement projects. The social partners bear a major responsibility in this regard for preparing, implementing and evaluating projects. The role of civil society organisations in organising training and presenting best practices must be strengthened.

The EESC has a key role to play in making the social partners, civil society organisations and policy-makers in general more aware of the need to develop policies that enhance innovation in the workplace. The EESC's task is to promote, in its texts and in EU policy documents more generally, the mainstreaming of innovation, in particular by presenting its views on innovation policy in its opinions on economic, employment and innovation policy issues, and by using its close contacts with the economic and social councils of the Member States.