The importance of creativity in the workplace

The pillars of productivity are staying organized, mission-oriented, and efficient. However, staying creative shouldn’t come at the expense of those pillars. Rather, 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 trust and collaboration, being creative increases problem-solving skills.

But that is not all. In business, creativity has the following benefits.

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. Creative solutions, however, are essential to innovative solutions.

It leads to productivity.

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

  • Avoid getting stuck in a rut. There is nothing wrong with routines. However, sometimes you need to shake things up and get out of your comfort zone. Doing so will expose you to new ideas and perspectives.
  • Solve bigger problems. You and your employees will be able to see the big picture and focus your energy on the issues that significantly affect the company when creative thinking is encouraged. When employees can apply these efforts to broader problems rather than just churning out work, they are more productive and the business thrives.
  • When employees are encouraged to be creative, their workplaces will change for the better. Motivation comes from enabling people to make a tangible and visible difference in your workplace. You don’t want to feel like a drone, mindlessly completing tasks with no apparent impact on your life.
  • People get emotionally involved in it. Quite simply, work without passion is tedious, especially for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Some people, however, require a little more motivation to spark that passion at work. Participating in the creative process empowers workers, regardless of their department or role.
  • By promoting creativity, failure becomes less likely. People need the freedom to fail if they are going to foster a creative environment. Creative environments that fear failure become paralyzed and hinder the flow of ideas. As a result of fear, we tend to go off the rails, preventing us from identifying new and more effective ways of working, improving processes, streamlining operations, and creating new products.

Provides adaptability.

It may not always be necessary to adjust your business model by creatively approaching challenges. For example, to improve the efficiency of your operations, you can develop new products or services. However, don’t reject an idea because it doesn’t match the scale of a problem.

Business is a constantly changing world, 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 the growth of a company.

It’s easy to fall into cognitive fixation because it can be tempting to approach every situation the same way you’ve done in the past. There are, however, differences between each situation.

Leaders in a company can get stuck if they don’t take the time to understand the circumstances they face, encourage creative thinking, and act on the findings.

Skill is in demand.

Major industries like healthcare and manufacturing value creativity and innovation. It is mainly due to the complexity of the challenges that each industry faces.

How to foster creativity in the workplace

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

1. Schedule opportunities for creative thinking.

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

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

2. Instill autonomy.

Greater responsibility and autonomy will likely lead to more idea generation, as well as a greater sense of pride and confidence in your team’s abilities.

Generally speaking, this could allow your team to work how they want, instead of micromanaging. More specifically, it allows your team to choose the agenda when meeting one-on-one.

3. Implement flexible work schedules.

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

Set 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.”

“Leaders unknowingly undermine 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 ask your team to come up with tactical solutions alongside creative ideas.”

Not only does this stifle creative flow, but it also shifts the work environment into a “produce while editing” mentality, resulting in decreased individual contribution.”

5. Unlock your organization.

For innovative teamwork to occur, it is essential that a collaborative and social environment is created. Managers will notice a significant difference when they take steps to “decouple” their organizations.

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

Also, humor is great for team building, inclusivity, 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 a “water cooler.” By doing so, your employees can engage in some friendly banter around the office. Or, at the end of your team meetings, schedule time for everyone to discuss their plans for the weekend.

Joy creates a sense of belonging and security, inspiring creativity.

6. Take a walk.

As for fresh thinking, walking is one of the oldest and most effective sources. “Walk-in meetings” were a popular method used by Steve Jobs to foster connection and creativity with co-workers and collaborators.

Additionally, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that walking meetings improved creativity by 5.25% and engagement by 8.5%. Researchers at Stanford University also found that walking increased creative thinking by 60%. Movement itself energizes the brain, no matter 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 recognize other people’s efforts. To let the employee know you plan to implement her ideas, I suggest you personalize her message. Finally, if the change is successful, notify the team of the inspiration behind it.

To encourage innovation, it is important to publicly address and recommend good ideas. As a result, team members feel more inspired to share their ideas and opinions.

8. Encourage self-reflection.

You’ll find that your employees focus on their work and forget the importance of what they’re doing when the workload increases. To combat this, have employees sign up for self-reflection. 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 your hard work and innovative solutions by sharing monthly or quarterly achievements.

9. Allow failure.

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

“One time [employees] see, firsthand, the value of taking out what we call a ‘low-res prototype’ and getting feedback from a key component, and seeing how that drives[s] the next step, people start to believe 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 are willing to take risks where you might fail, but you learn something from that failure and move on,” he continued, emphasizing, “[You need] a tolerance for ambiguity… You are holding back that need for immediate closure.”

10. Set a risk-taking tone.

Most professionals feel that their companies and departments are not taking enough risks. Yet risk is essential to enhancing your company’s competitive advantage and fostering 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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