Few skills compare to the importance of workplace creativity for business success. Having a creative team at your fingertips promotes new ideas, fresh perspectives, solutions, and a path toward growth. According to the World Economic Forum, creativity means collaborating with others and continuously trying to achieve results, even if multiple attempts fail.
Of course, ingenuity isn’t precisely an innate trait — rather, it’s something business owners must cultivate among their employees. It’s also something that artificial intelligence (AI) will never be able to replicate. Yet, developing a creative work environment is a challenge many leaders have yet to circumvent.
Business owners interested in fostering workplace creativity and reaping the rewards of their employees’ breathtaking imagination may find these suggestions helpful.
Workplace Creativity Essential for Business
Studies have long shown that a business’s success hinges on creative minds, regardless of the industry. Even an engineer must tap into divergent thinking and risk-taking skills within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Workplace creativity has several benefits for a thriving business, including the following:
- Idea sharing encourages innovation, streamlined processes, and unique products
- Boosts productivity and prevents inaction at work
- Enables more straightforward adaptation and flexibility to improve efficiency
Even the finance and insurance sectors now deem creativity-focused design thinking one of the most in-demand skills. For instance, after analyzing client dissatisfaction, one insurance company in Denmark found that its handling of claims placed self-serving efficiency and ease for its staff over that of its customers. The agency quickly formed an in-house project team, utilizing design thinking for a more empathetic approach to customer service.
Leaders that invest time, energy and money into building a creative workplace often see immediate positive results.
6 Tips for Cultivating a Creative Workplace
There are many approaches business owners can take to foster workplace creativity among their employees. To achieve innovation through imagination, attempting various methods to account for different people’s out-of-the-box thinking is crucial. Below are six practical tips for facilitating a creative work environment.
1. Hold Brainstorming Sessions
When employees are met with a clean whiteboard, it’s an opportunity to brainstorm new possibilities and reinvigorated imaginations. Regular brainstorming sessions are an excellent first step to generating workplace creativity through employee engagement.
Studies have shown a link between creativity, confidence and goal setting, indicating that sharing knowledge and ideas with others boosts one’s curiosity and joy of learning. Ingenuity and the willingness to impart knowledge also deepen connections between employees and builds trust and motivation within teams.
Brainstorming sessions don’t have to stay in the office, either. Employee engagement can occur through organized corporate volunteering in the community or other activities that allow them to interact and solve problems together.
2. Create a Stimulating Office Aesthetic
Sometimes, a stimulating office environment can also cultivate workplace creativity. Eggshell-white walls, drab carpeting, and fluorescent light bulbs are far from rousing. As such, business owners who revamp their office space may also enhance their employees’ inventiveness and performance.
Consider sound, temperature, lighting and color when looking to improve the office aesthetic. Some employees may produce their best work in quiet spaces, while others can stay productive with ambient noise. Altering the office set-up with private rooms and congregative worktables can set the stage for optimal creative stimulation.
Swapping out harsh lighting for natural daylight and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is another way to enhance the office for greater creativity. Meanwhile, programming the thermostat to a comfortable 70° Fahrenheit will ensure that employees are neither too cold nor too warm to perform well.
Of course, a pop of color can also stimulate creative thinking. Traditional office color palettes are often uninspiring and oppressive. After hours spent staring at a computer screen, white walls can further hurt employees’ eyes.
Instead, business owners might consider painting the walls in pastel shades for greater relaxation, while bright yellow may enhance workplace happiness and office energy. Conference rooms, cafeterias, and break rooms are the perfect rooms to use bold colors for a more lively office.
3. Add a Hint of Green
Research on color psychology has proven that green boosts creativity. While some find the color green relaxing, others find it motivates them, increasing their drive toward achievement.
Green is typical of our daily lives — green lights usually represent proceeding, such as in a car, while some people use the phrase “give the green light” to indicate approval.
Other studies have also indicated that green in nature is associated with heightened creativity. For example, natural elements have restorative tendencies that enable recovery from focused attention. This frees up the mind for more extraordinary imagination.
Adding different plants throughout an office is an excellent way to bring nature indoors. Employees surrounded by greenery can then recover faster after tasks and make room for new conceptions.
4. Implement Anonymous Suggestion Boxes
Although business owners can encourage creativity by creating a safe, collaborative office, not all employees will feel confident to share their ideas.
Therefore, leaders should implement anonymous suggestion boxes so that everyone has an opportunity to participate and contribute their talents.
Anonymous suggestion boxes will also ensure companies can take advantage of an extraordinary innovation from someone who may otherwise not have felt brave enough to speak up. This is a great way to involve the more introverted members of one’s team.
5. Act on the Best Ideas
Employees may be less apt to make suggestions if their employer rarely acts on them. Business owners who hope to foster workplace creativity should take action on the best, most creative ideas their employees develop.
In a survey by Fast Company, half of the respondents didn’t believe their bosses would take their ideas seriously, which is why they rarely shared. Another 56% worried they wouldn’t receive credit.
Creative employees want to know their contributions make a difference for the company, further boosting their sense of purpose and worth at work.
Business owners should be listening to teams’ ideas and implementing them. Additionally, asking for feedback, providing feedback and placing value on others’ work are critical.
6. Offer Ongoing Training
Finally, many employees feel they have a ways to go in skill-building before making sound contributions. Leaders who hope to maximize their teams’ creativity should provide ongoing skills development to bring employees up to speed.
The American Staffing Association reports that nearly 80% of employees want professional development when looking for a job — yet only 39% of employers offer these training programs.
When asked to share their ideas, lacking the appropriate skills plays into employees’ confidence. It’s essential for business owners to keep critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation skills in mind when developing professional training programs for teams, especially since many of these soft skills aren’t always innate.
If leaders want to foster a creative workforce capable of identifying new methods and generating original product ideas and solutions, their employees must have the proper training under their belts.
Workplace Creativity Delivers Better Business
Nowadays, businesses have little chance of survival without innovation. Of course, innovation requires a determined team of creative individuals to produce an ever-flowing system of ideas and solutions. Leadership must lean into creativity and cultivate a workspace conducive to building this essential skill. From rethinking one’s approach to team meetings to delivering a vibrant and stimulating office aesthetic, there are numerous ways business owners can set their companies up for success through ingenuity.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.