Do you want to empower your team to be more creative, innovative, and productive? Are you looking for ways to get more done—and come up with ingenious ideas—in less time? Fostering creativity in the workplace can help accomplish all this and more. You may even be able to attract and keep greater talent. Here are three ways to foster creativity in the workplace:
Create a conducive environment
Surrounding your team with a creative environment is huge in drawing out creative ideas. A space filled with boring gray cubicles isn’t exactly inspiring, is it? Every creative space can be as unique as the people in it. So, let’s start with the three “C’s” to get you started: color, collaboration, and curiosity.
Bright pops of color give the brain a productive boost. But you don’t want to go overboard with this or it can actually stifle creativity by becoming overwhelming. Use color purposefully while leaving some white space. Providing an environment with carefully balanced colors will invite innovative ideas to arise.
It’s all about finding a balance between the restful influences of cool colors with the stimulating effects of warm ones.
Collaboration is the second key to a creative environment. The best ideas often come together when we are sharing varied experiences and backgrounds. Creating space for your team to get together and brainstorm ideas is essential. Encourage employees to group together in collaborative areas by throwing in something fun and unexpected. Ball chairs, anyone?
Put up some whiteboards or dry erase boards and encourage employees to commune around them throughout the day. You could even write some prompts on the boards to get those creative juices flowing—or start a flow chart and encourage everyone to contribute.
Instilling a sense of curiosity among your team may seem less straightforward. But it is not as hard as you think. The key is to not allow anyone to get too comfortable. Change is good. Figure out a way to alter the environment from time to time. It could be something as simple as a new snack theme in the break room each week. Get your team wondering what new, exciting thing will go down in the office each week.
Work towards greater diversity
Different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and age groups bring together a myriad of ideas. Working with people who are different from you opens the mind to new ways of seeing things, and diversity builds strength. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said that “strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”
A diverse work environment can give companies a competitive edge. It creates a movement that pushes teams forward. There can even be power in disagreement.
Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.James Surowiecki
Another benefit of a diverse team is that employees develop new knowledge and skills from one another. Varying minds approach problems in different ways. This benefits all and creates space for creative thinking and expression. According to research by Harvard Business School professor Roy Y.J. Chia, “the more your network includes individuals from different cultural backgrounds, the more you will be creatively stimulated by different ideas and perspectives.”
Employees feel freer to share in a company that is inclusive. Which brings us to number three…
Acknowledge and reward creativity
Getting your employees thinking creatively is the first step, but if they do not feel free to share their creative ideas, they aren’t doing you much good. You want to help employees strive towards what could be, and empower them to present the ideas within.
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.Antoine De Saint Exupéry
Or, to frame it in more businesslike language: set clear goals, but allow some wiggle room in how those goals are met.
By setting clear, achievable goals, allowing autonomy in achieving those goals, and removing distractions or unnecessary time pressures, managers can help free up employees’ creative impulses and guide them down the path of real innovations that can help the company.
Enabling employees to enjoy some down time throughout the day can be a reward that produces more creativity, creating a beautiful cycle of creative leverage.
It’s a worthwhile exercise to come up with engaging rewards for the creative ideas that get implemented. You could even hold contests and allow employees to vote up the best projects. Brainstorm perks and reward ideas together as an office.
Which of these ideas are you ready to implement for a more creative workplace? Let us know in the comments.