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How to Inspire Creativity in the Workplace

Author: Dave Rietsema - Matchr CEO

Creativity is considered by many to be a driver of growth and prosperity, but the vast majority of employees feel pressured to be productive rather than creative. Most workers feel that they aren’t living up to their creative potential and an emphasis on consistency may discourage them from sharing new ideas.

Encouraging creativity in the following ways may help your company move into the future while driving dollars to the bottom line – and also helping employees to more feel fulfilled and valued.

What Is Creativity?

Creativity involves seeing the world in different ways. Creative people can see patterns where others may not. They can make connections that others might overlook. Creativity therefore results in imaginative and new ideas that can have a very positive impact on the workplace if employees are allowed to bring them to fruition.

Why Is Creativity in the Workplace Important?

Creativity in the workplace is essential for the company and its employees to reach their full potential. The more creative employees are, the more ideas they’ll develop. Not all ideas will be brilliant, but the more ideas there are, the more likely there are to be really good ones that can benefit the company. The more creativity your company encourages, the easier problem-solving will be. Employees will also be more willing to collaborate and work together to solve problems and come up with ideas. 

Companies that foster creativity in their employees also have lower turnover. If employees are allowed to exercise their creativity, they’ll feel more valued and more engaged with their work. Plus, your company can attract more talented employees in its hiring process.

Characteristics of a Creative Person

Creative thinking skills in the workplace can help with productivity and new ideas. But what characteristics make up a creative person? Knowing what characteristics to look for can help you understand how creativity helps with work. Some of these characteristics may seem contradictory, but can work together to foster creativity. Creative people may be naturally born with some or all of these characteristics, but many can be taught and adopted.

Characteristics of creative people can include:

  • Intelligence
  • Naivete
  • Energy
  • Focus
  • Discipline
  • Playfulness
  • Realism
  • Dreaming
  • Extroversion
  • Introversion
  • Pride
  • Modesty
  • Resistance to gender roles
  • Conservatism
  • Rebelliousness
  • Passionate
  • Objective
  • Sensitive
  • Happy
  • Joyful

What this boils down to is that there are many different characteristics to creativity, some of them on opposite ends of the spectrum. The most important feature, therefore, of creativity seems to be flexibility and the ability to find a balance between opposing characteristics.

Creative Strengths That Can Be Taught

A common misconception is that creative people are naturally so. However, that’s not always true. While some people are born with characteristics that foster creativity, many of them can be learned. These traits are strengths that can be taught in order to foster creativity amongst a company’s employees. These traits include:

  • Originality
  • Flexibility
  • Fluency
  • Originality
  • And more

In training, it’s possible to train employees to think more creatively. This can also be done throughout the workday if managers know how to foster creativity. This training can involve lots of feedback and fostering a culture in which employees know that it’s okay to fail. Employees that are more comfortable with failure will also be more willing to take the risks that could lead to either failure or to great success.

Ways to Inspire Creativity in the Workplace

Creativity is becoming ever more important as the ways that customers’ consume continuously changes and evolves. By putting tools and systems in place to inspire creativity in the workplace, employers ensure that their businesses will be able to adapt and survive. In the short term, encouraging creativity also draws highly motivated candidates and helps existing employees feel a greater sense of ownership. But how can companies inspire more creativity in the workplace?

Recognize and Reward Creativity

Creativity can be fun, but it’s also challenging and at times mentally draining to be creative. Make sure that employees are being encouraged to be creative by rewarding them with recognition of their ideas and some type of incentive. When employees see their ideas being put into action and see a financial benefit, they will be inspired to come up with more ideas.

Encourage Individuality

Employees that feel free to let their true colors shine will be more inspired in every way. Depending on the way your company operates, you may let employees decorate their workspace, dress according to a lenient code, or create their own schedules. Employees may also be free to interact with customers using more genuine and individualized greetings and closings, rather than scripted interactions.

Allow for Anonymity

Some employees are shy or uncomfortable sharing ideas with everyone. A simple suggestions box or confidentiality agreement may encourage employees that don’t enjoy the spotlight to be more creative. Allowing employees the option of being recognized for their ideas or having their ideas introduced without fanfare can help you to cater to your employees’ personalities and preferences.

Foster a Culture of Collaboration

People tend to be more creative when they discuss problems and solutions with one another than when they are put to the task alone. Encouraging employees to work together to complete goals may help to ramp up creativity levels. Introducing tools like messaging through HR software self-service portals lets employees exchange ideas on their own schedule when they come up, which may allow for even more creative freedom.

Prioritize Empowerment

Empowered employees will be more likely to share ideas and will feel more creative than employees that feel their roles are dictated to them by the company. If employees feel that they have a high degree of independence when it comes to the ways that they can take care of customers and complete their daily tasks, they will be more likely to come up with new and better methods. Prioritizing empowerment may inspire creativity while saving managers’ time and improving satisfaction among employees.

Encourage Brainstorming

Many ideas are generated through brainstorming. A brainstorming session can help employees to feed off of each other’s ideas. Even if there isn’t a specific problem that needs to be solved, regular brainstorming sessions can help employees learn and maintain the skill of thinking outside of the box.

Cultivate a Diverse Team

Diversity isn’t just important for meeting quotas or to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity. There are also benefits to the company as well. Employing people who come from a variety of different backgrounds means that your employees will have different experiences to bring to the table. These differences mean that employees will think differently and can contribute in different ways to solving problems, increasing the level of creativity in the company.

Embrace Failing

No one likes to fail. No one likes to make a mistake, fail to meet expectations, or disappoint a boss. However, failing is how we grow. If employees are afraid to fail, they’ll be afraid to take creative risks. These risks won’t always work out, but it’s important for employees to feel comfortable with taking a risk for the ideas that do pay off and become a great success.

Is your company looking for a HRIS to help manage training and employee development? Let us help you find the best software for your needs. Visit our Software Match page to get started today.

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