Fostering workplace creativity is essential for success. Studies show that a creative and innovative workforce can lead to increased profits and a positive company culture. But many entrepreneurs don’t make time for it. They don’t realize just how important creativity is to their businesses and they fail to make the time and space their teams need to engage in deep and creative thinking.
Fostering Workplace Creativity: Why It’s Important
Encouraging creativity is beneficial when your business is constantly facing new challenges and problems to be solved. Consumer preferences, trends and your market are continually changing. This is especially true today. It’s a fast-paced environment and we’ve had lots of disruptions caused by the pandemic. Creative thinking can help businesses remain agile, improve efficiency, and identify challenges long before they become problems, and those are the businesses that succeed even in challenging times.
Workplace Creativity: What Is It?
In the workplace, creativity is often synonymous with new ideas or innovation. But what exactly is it? Creativity can be defined as the ability to generate new and original ideas, but it’s not just about coming up with those ideas. In business, it’s also about finding ways to implement ideas successfully to make the rubber meet the road. So how does creativity actually work? Scientists believe that it involves a number of different cognitive processes like:
- divergent thinking or generating multiple ideas
- convergent thinking or evaluating and selecting the best idea
- associative thinking or linking together unrelated concepts
Fostering Workplace Creativity: How to Do It
So how can you get your team thinking more creatively?
- First, let them know it’s okay when ideas don’t work out. People who consider themselves to be more logical will naturally struggle. Encouraging creativity in the workplace may be challenging at first as employees learn to speak up without fear of judgment. Nobody wants to be the team member with a bad idea.
- Next, developing a creative routine is also helpful. This can involve setting aside time each day or week for employees to work on creative projects without the pressure of meeting deadlines or completing deliverables. During this time, employees can be free to explore new ideas, experiment with different approaches, and take risks. An added benefit to making creativity part of the regular routine is that it gets ideas flowing more regularly, and this practice can help build teamwork and collaboration skills as employees work together.
- Provide the time and physical space conducive for creative thinking. For example, that could be comfortable furniture, dimmable lighting, and music or a quiet environment. Offer other supplies like a whiteboard or flip chart, notepads, pens and pencils. That way they can record notes, work out details, or even create drawings.
Workplace Creativity: Creating a Positive Company Culture
Emotions are powerful motivators and they can also help to trigger new ideas and perspectives. When you feel passionate about something, it can be contagious, and that passion can spark new ideas. Create an enthusiastic company culture by acknowledging and rewarding creative thinking. Ask employees to reverse roles with you. What might the meeting solution or product look like if they were in charge? Rotate team members allowing each to create an agenda or provide feedback on how they wish the creative process was different. They’ll get accustomed to thinking like the boss and you’ll get valuable insights from their perspectives.
Finally and most importantly, this one is crucial – create an environment where taking risks is not only tolerated but encouraged. This can be a difficult balance to strike. There should be some structure for risk-taking without stifling your team. Let them know in which parts of their jobs or the business they’re welcome to try new things, or the process for implementing something new. Every experiment will not be a success. Those that don’t work out can provide valuable lessons that help to improve future efforts. When employees feel like they have the freedom to experiment, they’re more likely to come up with and share innovative ideas.
Fostering Workplace Creativity – Begin Today
Try this exercise to begin fostering workplace creativity today. Encourage divergent thinking with a “Minute to Win It” challenge. Give your team 60 seconds to think of as many solutions as possible for a particular problem. Remember, no judging ideas no matter how silly or impractical they may seem, and don’t forget to celebrate that creative thinking. What we reward becomes part of our company’s culture. Creative thinking becomes a habit when it’s acknowledged and when your team feels like they’re making progress. Creativity is essential for problem-solving, innovation and growth. It’s also necessary for generating new ideas, responding to changes in the marketplace, and coping with stress. Workplace collaboration and feedback offer great opportunities for flexing creative muscles. Allow your employees to explore what their creative process looks like without fear of being made to feel they failed.
If you have questions about how Catalyst can help your team meet goals, learn more about our Corporate Retainer services.