The importance of creativity in the workplace

The cornerstones of productivity are staying organised, task-driven and efficient. But being creative should not come at the expense of these pillars. On the contrary, creativity is becoming an increasingly valuable asset in the workplace for both individuals and teams.

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Furthermore, the World Economic Forum states that creativity is or is related to nine of the ten skills that will define the world in 2020 and beyond. In addition to increasing self-confidence and cooperation, being creative increases the ability to solve problems.

But that’s not all. In business, creativity has the following advantages.

It goes hand in hand with innovation.

Innovation requires two ingredients: novelty and utility. Unfortunately, despite the importance of creativity in generating unique and original ideas, they are not always practical. However, creative solutions are essential for innovative solutions.

Leads to productivity.

Creativity promotes productivity as long as the work environment allows them to coexist. As a result, creativity can lead to productivity in the following ways:

  • Prevents getting stuck in a rut. There is nothing wrong with routines. However, sometimes you need to shake things up and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Doing so will expose you to new ideas and perspectives.
  • Solves bigger problems. You and your employees will be able to see the bigger picture and focus your energy on issues that significantly affect the company when creative thinking is encouraged. When employees can apply those efforts to bigger-picture problems instead of just throwing out work, they’re more productive—and the business thrives.
  • When employees are encouraged to be creative, their workplaces will change for the better. Motivation comes from letting people make a concrete, visible difference in their workplace. You won’t feel like a drone, completing tasks without any apparent impact on your life.
  • People get emotionally involved in it. Quite simply, work without passion is boring – especially for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. However, some people require a little more motivation to spark that passion at work. Participating in the creative process empowers employees, regardless of department or role.
  • By fostering creativity, failure becomes less likely. People need the freedom to fail if they are to foster a creative environment. Creative environments that fear failure are crippled and impede the flow of ideas. As a result of fear, we tend to color outside the lines, preventing us from identifying new and more efficient ways of working, improving processes, streamlining operations and creating new products.

Provides adaptability.

It may not always be necessary to adjust your business model when solving challenges creatively. To improve the efficiency of your operation, you can for example develop new products or services. But don’t reject an idea because it doesn’t match the scope of a problem.

Business is a world of constant change, and adapting to it requires creative solutions.

Growth depends on it.

The idea that there is only one way to approach or interpret a situation or challenge is one of the main obstacles to a business’s growth.

It’s easy to fall into cognitive fixity because it can be tempting to approach every situation the same way you have in the past. However, there are differences between each situation.

A company’s leaders can stagnate if they don’t take the time to understand the circumstances they face, foster creative thinking and act on discoveries.

The skill is in demand.

Top industries such as healthcare and manufacturing value creativity and innovation. This is mainly due to the complexity of the challenges that each industry faces.

How to encourage creativity in the workplace

So we know that creativity is essential. But how can you encourage it in the workplace?

1. Plan opportunities for creative thinking.

“Creative thinking can often be overlooked if it doesn’t get time on our calendars,” writes Nathan Rawlins in CIO. “There will always be more meetings and tasks to tick off our lists, so it’s important to actually book time for creative activities.”

For example, hackathons have resulted in significant updates to our product offerings. In two to three days, the teams spend a lot of time thinking creatively, collaborating and testing out-of-the-box ideas. “The results are amazing features that add value to both the product and the company,” adds Rawlins. “Additionally, these events boost morale and demonstrate our commitment to creativity and innovation.”

2. Instill autonomy.

Increased responsibility and autonomy are likely to lead to the generation of more ideas, as well as a greater sense of pride and confidence in the team’s skills.

Broadly speaking, this can allow your team to work as they please, rather than micromanaging. More specifically, you let your team choose the agenda when you meet one-on-one.

3. Implement flexible working hours.

Consider offering flexible hours or work from home for specific roles that only require an internet connection. When employees work from home, they can think more clearly, come up with more innovative ideas and reduce stress levels.

Establish clear expectations and guidelines to ensure consistent productivity at home. And plan a flexible schedule that suits managers and their teams and company requirements.

4. Don’t worry about the “how”.

“Managers unwittingly stifle their team’s creativity by focusing too early on implementation,” says Lisa Guice, Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC. “The fastest way to kill the creative process is to require your team to produce tactical solutions in tandem with creative ideas.”

This not only stifles the creative flow, but also changes the work environment to a ‘produce while you edit’ mindset, resulting in reduced individual contribution.”

5. De-silo your organization.

For innovative teamwork to take place, it is crucial that a cooperative and social environment is created. Leaders will notice a significant difference when they take steps to “de-silo” their organizations.

In addition to working on their own projects, employees can interact with colleagues in other departments and learn more about the company. As a result, ideas and inspiration will flow freely through the departments, sparking creativity.

Furthermore, humor is great for team building, inclusion and creativity.

What if you have a primarily remote or hybrid team? You may want to set up a Slack or similar chat channel called “water cooler”. By doing so, employees can engage in some friendly office banter. Or, at the end of team meetings, schedule time for everyone to discuss their plans for the weekend.

The game creates a sense of belonging and security, and inspires creativity.

6. Go.

When it comes to fresh thinking, walking is one of the oldest and most effective sources. “Walking meetings” were a popular method used by Steve Jobs to foster connection and creativity with colleagues and partners.

In addition, researchers from Harvard Medical School found that walking meetings increased creativity by 5.25% and engagement by 8.5%. Stanford University researchers also discovered that walking increased creative thinking by 60%. The movement itself gives energy to the brain, regardless of how long or where it takes place.

7. Don’t let good ideas go to waste.

Incentives should be provided to encourage employees to share their ideas. One suggestion is to implement the best ideas and to recognize the efforts of others. To let the employee know that you plan to implement their ideas – I suggest you adapt your message. Finally, if the change is successful, let the team know the inspiration behind it.

To promote innovation, it is important to take up and publicly praise good ideas. As a result, team members feel more inspired to share their ideas and opinions.

8. Encourage self-reflection.

You will find that employees become preoccupied with their work and forget the importance of what they are doing when the workload increases. To combat this, make self-reflection check-ins a habit for employees. By doing this exercise, they are inspired to see things from a different perspective, both in terms of what they have achieved and what lies ahead.

Your team can also see the concrete results of their hard work and innovative solutions by sharing monthly or quarterly achievements.

9. Allow for mistakes.

When you ask your employees for their creative input, make sure they know you don’t expect perfection or highly polished work. To be able to take risks without negative consequences, employees must be allowed to develop plans that go wrong. The ability to fail wisely is a valuable skill for managers and businesses.

“Once [employees] see first-hand the value of putting out what we call a “low-res prototype” and getting feedback from a key component, and see how it directly[s] the next step is people start to become believers in that process,” explains Graham Henshaw, executive director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, on the W&M Leadership and Business podcast.”[Innovators must have] an openness to risk … You’re willing to take risks where you might fail, but you learn something from that mistake and move on,” he continued, emphasizing, “[You need] a tolerance for ambiguity … You hold back that need for immediate closure.”

10. Set a tone of risk-taking.

Most professionals feel that their companies and departments are not taking enough risks. However, the risk is essential to improve the business’ competitive advantage and encourage creativity.

When appropriate, empower employees to make bold decisions and push them to take calculated risks instead of micromanaging them.

Image credit: Photo by Shukhrat Umarov; Pexels; Thank you!

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