Creativity is a funny thing. It’s tough to define, but vital to success in almost any field. It can be found in the most vivid, colorful work of art, and in the most complex, impenetrable mathematical equation. Inspiration, of course, also takes many forms. One person sees an apple falling from a tree, and is inspired to write a poem. Another witnesses the same scene, and comes up with the theory of gravity.
The only sure thing about creativity, it seems, is that everyone wants it. That’s especially true in the working world, where a spark of creativity at the right time can make all the difference in a company’s trajectory. So it’s only natural that, as an employer, you want to inspire creativity in your employees. That process starts with fostering a creative working environment, something successful tech companies like Google do so well. Let’s take a look at some ways you can inspire creativity in your employees, and reap the benefits it provides.
Permission to Be Creative, Please
Creativity has always been in demand, but never to the degree that it is now. Many companies even discouraged creativity, intentionally or otherwise, as the concept of “toeing the company line” often took priority over innovative thinking. Creativity starts with asking questions, and it’s very important to make sure your employees are comfortable doing so.
- Offer employees secure channels through which to share creative ideas. This might require allowing employees to make suggestions anonymously, or having management keep an “open door” policy. The key is letting employees know they won’t be punished for thinking outside the box.
- You’ll also want to reward creativity. The first step is acknowledgment. Praise good ideas, and don’t be too hard on the duds. Of course, you also want creative employees to see that their work will pay off career-wise. How you incentivize creativity depends on your unique business.
- Offer support when an employee comes to you with a creative idea. If you have resources that might help, make them available. Allow employees to work in teams, especially at the brainstorming stage. Even just giving your “okay” to further develop a creative idea is a form of support.
- If you want your team to be creative, it’s important for that team to be diverse. By bringing people from different backgrounds together, you can get many perspectives on a single issue. The best creative ideas often come from looking at something common in a slightly different way than anyone has before.
Provide a Creative Environment
The workspace you provide also plays an important role in the creativity of your employees. A sterile, blank work environment is not conducive to creativity. Neither is sameness. There are few things less inspiring than looking across a large workspace, and seeing that one room or cubicle is exactly the same as the next. Inspire your employees to be creative by providing a stimulating environment in which to think.
- Bring a little nature inside, and provide nice views to the outside world. A window with a view that lets sunlight pour in is inspiring in multiple ways. Open space is also important, giving employees room to breathe while they think. Adding some plants to the environment is another way to inspire, without remodelling your office.
- Provide common areas where your employees can interact. Meetings are important, but creative ideas are more likely to spring forth in less formal environments. Give your employees a place to exchange ideas without worrying about how management will respond.
- Movement inspires creativity, and fit employees are productive employees. Offer your employees ways to stay active during the workday. This can be as complex as providing in-office exercise equipment, or as simple as dedicating time each day for employees to go outside and stretch their legs.
There’s no one way to inspire creativity, but you can certainly take steps to boost workplace inspiration. The most important thing is to make sure that employees know creativity is encouraged. When your employees know that they are permitted freely exchange ideas, creative sparks will follow.
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