Guest Contributor

9 Ways to Increase Employee Creativity In the Workplace

By | Sierra Powell

A successful workplace of any kind requires innovation. At the heart of many successful new ideas is the creativity of employees, and although most managers know that, they don’t always know how to stimulate that creativity in a natural way where workers don’t feel pushed to come up with new ideas. It’s important to build an environment where everyone’s creativity is maximized. Here are nine tips to achieve that.

1. Set the Example

No one you manage will feel like being creative if they don’t see you being creative. Lead the way by taking new approaches to the things you do as a manager, owner, or supervisor. The more you show them the value of being creative, the more likely they’ll be to push for greater creativity themselves.

Of course, if you’re not at the top of the organizational chart, you may need to clear some things with your supervisor. It could turn out that that’s the person who needs greater creativity most of all!

2. Add Life to the Workspace

It’s easier to feel creative when you’re in a bright, energetic workplace. Bland walls and pedestrian decor don’t stimulate anybody. Look for ways to spruce up the office, the cubicles, the meeting rooms, and even the exterior of the building.

Be sure to mix it up once in a while, too. Even the most exciting new surroundings become stale and familiar after a couple of months. That doesn’t mean you’ll have to repaint four times a year. It just means that you need some accent pieces like large wall decor, live plants, or even artwork created by your own staff.

3. Create a Brainstorm Environment

The biggest obstruction to creativity is the perception that one’s ideas won’t be received well. If workers feel like their ideas are only good if they come out fully formed and ready to implement, they’ll likely never speak up with their first sparks of ideas.

You have to work against that environment. Make sure everyone knows that great ideas sometimes come from the ashes of other ideas or from the synthesis of ideas from different people. Encourage everybody to bring their parts to the table so that you can explore the possibility of building a whole from them.

4. Reward Innovation

To continue along that line, it’s important to recognize the efforts your employees are making toward creating new things. Innovation is, as noted above, something that isn’t always recognized in its earliest stages, and sometimes never gets much beyond them before fizzling out.

Don’t stifle those efforts! Encourage people to swing for the fences, then pat them on the back when they strike out. Otherwise, they may not even pick up the bat next time. Find a way to acknowledge the hard work of people who are attacking your toughest challenges.

5. Identify Creative Groups

One of the most powerful forces in human capital is the concept of synergy. You’ve probably seen it illustrated as 2 + 2 = 5, and that’s a good way to look at it. The idea is simple: Structure your system in a way that lets people make more together than they can alone.

Don’t leave your workers isolated as a bunch of individual 2’s. Create chances for them to link up with others and start creating 5s together. They’ll bring out real results that will make a difference in the quality of whatever you do.

6. Plant People Where They’ll Grow

Continuing in that same vein, it’s important to position people for success. For example, if you have a worker who’s sharp with numbers and budgets, be sure you’re giving that person a chance to flex those muscles instead of tying them down in unrelated work.

People who feel like your company is giving them the chance to do what they do best will not only be more creative and more productive but will also stay with you longer instead of leaving for greener pastures.

7. Provide Information

We’ve probably all experienced this scenario. Imagine that you have heard from management that there’s some type of problem that needs to be addressed. You have a brainstorm, come up with an idea, send it to the appropriate person…and get shot down. Unbeknownst to you, your employer doesn’t have the space, time, money, personnel, permits, or whatever to implement your idea. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have known that ahead of time?

Don’t let this happen to your employees. Give them the information they need to do something great for you. If you want them to contribute to a problem, give them the information to do it!

8. Teach Creativity

There’s considerable debate about whether we can teach people to be creative. Make no mistake about it: We can. Creativity can be developed just as effectively as many other soft skills, and the more you do to stimulate it, the more of it you’ll see.

There will always be people who are naturally creative but don’t give up on those who aren’t born with it. They can learn to be creative contributors as well!

9. Supply an Outlet

Your workplace should have a series of conduits for information going to and from your employees. If they have an EEO complaint, they know where to go. If they need to report a facility problem, they should know that too. Do they know where to go if they have a great idea?

Creative ideas without a destination are little more than daydreams. Make sure your personnel understands that creativity is valued and that there is somewhere to take their ideas (or even just pieces of ideas). Designate people in each section or department as these harbors for innovation so those good ideas can grow legs.

Truly creative companies are built with innovation in mind from top to bottom. To get everyone on board, you must create the kind of culture that helps your team make the most of their creativity. When those channels are open, there’s nothing your company can’t achieve.

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