Building a Culture of Workplace Creativity & Innovation
The demand for workplace creativity and innovation is at an all-time high today thank to the technology boom. A classic example can be seen when even multinational giants such as Google sets up their famed 20 percent policy where developers at Google get to invest 20% of their working hours per day on personal pet projects. This was an attempt to give its employees a sort of breather by giving them time and space to don their innovative caps. It seemed to work amazingly well as some of Google’s best outputs originated as an outcome of this program.
We seem to have this limited notion or belief that creativity is an inborn trait and it is not something that can be learned and developed. While it may be partly true, but if you do not try and provide a favourable working environment to your employees to express their creativity, how do you expect them to think out of the box and get a chance to view their creative ideas? This article is an attempt to help you think of ways which you can adopt at the workplace and encourage your employees to project their innovative side in their work.
1. Reward Creativity
Merely expecting your employees to think out of the box is not enough. You need to keep them motivated by offering them with some or the other form of incentives or rewards. You must also consider any suggestions made by members of your organisation or team so that even they feel encouraged to come up with creative ways of improving the workplace. If you do not give importance to these suggestions coming from your team members or employees, it makes them feel that they are wasting their time by offering creative suggestions, since they are anyways not going to be implemented.
To kick-start this initiative, you can start by setting goals for your employees by asking them to think of ways by which they can make the existing work processes more efficient. You can ask each employee to come up with one suggestion by the end of every week and then you need to assess and select the best idea. After selecting the best idea, you can reward the employee and most important of all implement his or her suggestion. The rewards may be of various kinds such as offering monetary incentives, giving away trophies and certificates, or any form of mass or public recognition at a company or team level.
2. Make it safe to be creative
There may be a circumstance or situation internally within your organisation where your employees may be motivated to display their creativity, but they have no medium to voice out their wonderful and creative ideas. The outspoken ones will still manage to reach out to the management and share their suggestions, but there may be other employees who may be timid and shy and are not comfortable to reach out to the management directly. To help such employees voice their creative suggestions, it would be a great idea to ask them to anonymously post their suggestions in the Suggestions Box and assure them of complete confidentiality. By doing so, you will be keeping their creative spirit alive and instil a certain level of confidence within them.
Many times most of the creative ideas spurt out of brainstorming sessions where a group of individual or team members discuss and debate about feasible solutions to a particular issue or problem. However, not every employee may be comfortable of voicing their opinions in a public forum. So you need to ensure that you provide a balanced mix of both private and public medium to your employees to share their suggestions.
3. Set up Innovation Teams
Another way to promote creativity at the workplace is to set up teams for innovation. Ask each team to come up with an each on how to improve the working process of a particular aspect. Ensure to set deadlines so that the teams feel competitive and enthusiastic to present their ideas and bag rewards for their excellent creative ideas. If this idea of setting up innovation teams is done properly, it is an indication to all the employees across the organisation that the company values their creative work.
4. Supporting Creativity from the top down
Most of the times employees are not willing to take risks because they are not sure of the fact if the organisation is likely to support their creativity. This is the time for you to intervene and guide your organisation to support creativity by showing an attitude of receptiveness towards receiving ideas and implementing them at an organisational level, to be known as a company which promotes creativity.
Another reason why employees hesitate to come up with creative solutions or do not think out of the box is because they are scared of the repercussions of making errors or mistakes. As an organisation, you must promote taking tasks so that it seems as an organisational norm and not something out of the blue. Also, the organisation needs to be less judgmental and more open-minded towards the suggestion of employees and understand the fact that developing a creative culture takes some time.
5. Embrace Diversity
In order for creative ideas to flourish, it is beneficial to have a homogeneous working environment, because an agreeable crowd leaves restricted room for creative ideas to flourish. Hence, while recruiting, ensure that you hire staff with varied knowledge and background level and build your respective teams with such a homogenous mix. Set up an informal forum between such mix of individuals so that employees with varied profiles get the opportunity to exchange their experiences and thoughts and promote creativity.
6. Create a Positive Working Environment
Promoting a fun filled environment allows employees to stay relaxed and a relaxed mind is a good foundation for generating or germinating creative ideas. On the contrary, a stressful or negative work environment takes away the zeal of thinking and doing things differently. Such a stressed employee only looks forward to the day to end at work. Research has proved that a positive environment gives birth to creativity. When an individual is in a positive frame of mind, he or she is automatically quite relaxed, and a relaxed mind is highly flexible in thinking, as perspectives are widened. Hence, you need to promote and incorporate fun into work by encouraging team bonding activities or team outings once in a while, so that you can keep the creative minds and ideas alive at work.